BLUES BUSTERS (1950) – A Review
Full (and possibly shameful) disclosure: I have seen every single Bowery Boys movie made – all 48 of ‘em. So, with each film running a little over an hour, that’s at least two full days of my life given over to the Boys. Given, mind you, though most of their movies are, to be kind, pretty terrible.
But this entry in the series may well be their shining hour, or, more accurately, their shining 67 minutes. (Thus it’s one of a handful I’ve seen more than once.) The plot - one of the few they didn’t endlessly recycle – goes like this: Sach (Huntz Hall) has his tonsils removed, and after the operation, he can “sing like Bing” (courtesy of John Laurenz, who dubbed Hall’s singing voice). His pal Slip (Leo Gorcey) sees dollar signs at this development, and sets out to exploit the situation, promoting Sach as “The Bowery Thrush.” Comedy ensues – and for once, it’s often actually funny.
Though Hall was often the focal point of various plots in various Bowery Boys movies (remember, there were 48 of them), this is one of the few chances he had to really and truly shine as a comic performer. Despite the totally accidental nature of his new talent, it doesn’t take long for The Bowery Thrush to become an insufferable prima donna, which allows Hall to fuss, preen and pose to good effect. The short running time is his best friend in this, in that the slim plot is over and done before it has a chance to run out of steam.
Though many of the usual Bowery Boys suspects are in place here (director William “One Shot” Beaudine, screenwriter Charles R. Marion, producer Jan Grippo), for whatever reason the stars aligned in favor of this particular episode. I well realize that the juvenile antics and low-budget bonhomie of the Bowery Boys will not appeal to everyone. But, if you’re a fan, or are just looking for a fun way to kill an hour (well, 67 minutes), then you could do a lot worse than this.
Related notes: After making his film debut with Gorcey and Hall in Dead End (1937), and continuing on with “the gang” in some fashion through various incarnations as the Dead End Kids, the Little Tough Guys, the Junior G-Men, the East Side Kids, and finally the Bowery Boys, this was Gabriel Dell’s final film with them. William “Billy” benedict, on the other hand, had several more Bowery Boys outings to go before he left, but here he already looks old enough to be collecting his pension. (All the “boys” were in their 30s by this point…)
Final personal disclosure: I am at a loss to fully explain my fondness for the Bowery Boys. I just accept that it is part of who I am.