Friday, November 6, 2015

The Bowery Boys

TCM showed the last of the Bulldog Drummond movies the week before last, and since last Saturday was Halloween they didn't run either the Batman and Robin serial or any of the movie series they've been running in the 10:30 AM Saturday slot. So they're starting a new series this week, which is the Bowery Boys. I don't know if they'll be running all of the Bowery Boys movies, but if they do, you'll be seeing the boys for ages.

What became the Bowery Boys actually started off back in 1937 is the Dead End Kids, from their memorable roles in the movie Dead End. they were such a hit in that movie that Warner Bros. snapped them up, putting them in relatively prestigious movies like Angels With Dirty Faces and They Made Me a Criminal. Eventually, they would morph into the "East Side Kids", but ended in 1945 when their contract wasn't renewed. So they struck out on their own, rechristened themselves as the Bowery Boys, and made a long series of films, of which Live Wires, tomorrow at 10:30 AM, was the first.

I haven't seen too many of the Bowery Boys movies, but the ones I've seen are all reasonably pleasant B movies, the sort of thing that would be threatened by episodic television once that became a hit a few short years later. There's nothing spectacular here, and the production values are certainly a lot lower than what the major studios were doing.

One thing of note about Live Wires is that it was directed by Phil Karlson very early in his career. Karlson would go on to direct some of the more interesting lower-budget films of the 1950s, notably the noirs Kansas City Confidential and 99 River Street, as well as the docudrama The Phenix City Story.

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