East Side Kids: Pride of The Bowery [6 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Spooks Run Wild
In their first of two Monogram spook comedies, the East Side Kids and Bela Lugosi square off in yet another haunted house. On their way to summer camp, the malapropism dependant East Siders are warned of a "monster killer" loose in the area, and, sure enough, almost immediately encounter Nardo (Lugosi) and his weird little helper Luigi (Angelo Rossitto). Nardo does very little to repudiate the Kids' impression of him as a vampire (the Kids say "vulture" lest Monogram should get in trouble with Universal, who held the rights to Dracula), but is he really the monster killer? Perhaps Doctor Von Grosch (Dennis Moore) knows, the famed mystery writer and "monster hunter" having arrived like clockwork at the creepy Billings mansion with camp nurse Linda Mason (Dorothy Short) in tow. Although Peewee (David Gorcey) is at one point feared to have become the victim of the "vulture," the smart aleck turns up safe and sound, and Muggs (Leo Gorcey) and the Kids decide to trap the killer. And so they do, ably assisted by young attorney Jeff Dixon (Dave O'Brien), who, for reasons not immediately clear, has a vested interest in the well being of the East Side Kids. O'Brien and leading lady Dorothy Short were married in real life. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Million Dollar Kid
The East Side Kids were betwixt and between their earlier roughneck characterizations and their later Bowery Boys buffoonery when Million Dollar Kid came out early in 1944. Vowing to rid the East Side of hoods and holdup men, Muggs McGinniss (Leo Gorcey) and his gang rescue wealthy John Cortland (Herbert Heyes) from a band of young thugs. When it turns out that one of Cortland's assailants was his own son Roy (Johnny Duncan), Muggs and his pals set about to reform the boy. Roy resists the gang's efforts until he receives word that his older brother has been killed in the war. Intending to confess all to the cops, Roy is abducted by his hoodlum friends, obliging Muggs, Glimpy (Huntz Hall) and the other East Side Kids to come to the rescue. The more serious aspects of Million Dollar Kid are leavened by moments of earthy humor, with some of the gags dating as far back as the Fatty Arbuckle era. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Smart Alecks
Short of funds to buy baseball uniforms, the East Side Kids are forced to go to work for their crooked ex-pal Hank (Gabriel Dell). When Hank's fugitive mentor Butch Brocalli (Max Rosenbloom) shows up to make trouble, gang member Danny (Bobby Jordan) is instrumental in Butch's arrest, earning a big reward in the process. Danny intends to suprise his pals by buying the uniforms himself, but Mugs (Leo Gorcey) wrongly assumes Danny wants to hoard all the money for himself. Mugs and the rest of the gang force Danny to turn over the dough, whereupon they buy a beat-up car. But when Danny is seriously injured by the escaping Brocalli, the kids offer to sell the car to pay for an operation. Kindly brain surgeon Dr. Ornsby (Walter Woolf King) sizes up the situation and straightens things out to the satisfaction of everyone. The East Side Kids are at their most contentious and least appealing in this second-rate entry, while Maxie Rosenbloom, usually a comic actor, is sorely miscast as the villain. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Bowery Blitzkrieg
Former Dead End Kid Huntz Hall made his first appearance with the East Side Kids in 1941's Bowery Blitzkrieg. The plotline concentrates on Danny Breslin (Bobby Jordan), a good kid in danger of going bad thanks to the influence of two-bit crook Monk Martin (Bobby Stone). When Danny is disqualified from the upcoming Golden Gloves boxing championship, his pal Mugs (Leo Gorcey) takes his place. Thanks to the chicanery of Monk and his gambling cronies, the public becomes convinced that Mugs intends to throw the fight. Nothing could be further from the truth, but for a while it looks as though both Mugs and Danny will be kayoed permanently by the villains. As "Limpy", Huntz Hall doesn't have much to do except act as Mugs' dimwitted stooge; Hall's unique comic gifts wouldn't fully blossom until the next East Side Kids entry, Spooks Run Wild. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Kid Dynamite
Amateur fighter and all-around bully Muggs McGinniss (Leo Gorcey) tries to cheat in a pool game with hustler Harry Wycoff (Gabriel Dell). He is thwarted by his own friend Danny Lyons (Bobby Jordan), who has some strong ideas about right and wrong and wants to keep his friend honest. Muggs has to knock Wycoff down with his fists to avoid paying off, and promises to get even with Danny and criticizing him as a coward, without the "killer instinct" it takes to win, in boxing or anything else, as far as Muggs is concerned. In revenge for his pummeling, Wycoff, who works for a local bookmaker, arranges to have Muggs kidnapped ahead of the amateur boxing match in which he's supposed to fight. Danny goes into the ring in his place and wins, but Muggs is convinced that Danny arranged the kidnapping. They clash over and over throughout the movie, in an amateur dance contest and as rivals for a job at a local garage, and over Danny's wish to marry Muggs' sister, and then Muggs finds out that he was all wrong -- that Danny had nothing to do with thekidnapping. But by then he's jealous of Danny, and continues riding him mercilessly, and Danny can't fight back because he's promised his mother never to fight in the street like a common hooligan. Muggs gets even more fierce in his resentment when Danny joins the army showing himself to be more of a man than Muggs and becoming a hero to the neighborhood in the bargain. Finally, Danny realizes that if Muggs is ever to grow up, someone is going to have to stand up to him. The two agree to settle their differences with their fists. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

Pride of the Bowery
Muggs Maloney (Leo Gorcey) is supposed to be preparing for the Golden Gloves competition but he doesn't want to train anymore in a stuffy slum building. His friend Danny (Bobby Jordan) lures him upstate to what he thinks is going to be a training camp, but instead turns out to be a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, where young men sign up to do land reclamation in exchange for support for their families -- Muggs feels cheated, but his mother can use the money and the labor is keeping him in shape, so he sticks it out, even saving the life of another boy, though his pugnacious, self-centered attitude quickly alienates most of the camp from him. When Willie (Bobby Stone), one of the few friends he has, tells Muggs that he stole $100 from the captain's office to send to his mother, Muggs decides to help him out by taking up a local fight promoter (Carleton Young) on his offer of a prize fight; he wins and tries to replace the money, but gets caught by the captain. Muggs won't squeal on Willie and is dismissed from the camp, but Danny won't let the issue go and forces Willie to confess his role in the crime. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

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