Dig That Uranium will go down on my list of all-time faves, for so many reasons, none of which are because it's a good movie. In fact, this should have been the swan song. It's never been more glaringly apparent that there was nothing left to say. I watched Leo like a hawk, and he was only truly blitzed once. In Hall's long, over the top soliloquy in the hotel room, after which Gorcey came in too early with the line, "What time do they give out the awards?" and then cracked up laughing looking at his Dad.
There were moments in his performance that the booze actually worked for me. His eyes looked sleepy, but his slowed down delivery resulted in some great expressions and takes. Some of his frustrated eye rolling takes had me laughing out loud. If he hadn't had the boozer rep, it would have been chalked up to age.
He personally wheeled that car in some pretty tricky maneuvers, including the one where they almost sideswipe the Jeep. I studied it closely. That was not one of the long-shot doubles they used in the chase.
Also, as a child of the '50's, it was so heavily influenced by the spate of TV westerns hitting television, that the atmosphere felt just right. Admittedly, that's a "you had to be there" feeling.
I've now seen them perform under almost every circumstance. When they didn't care, and phoned it in. With lousy material they pushed over the top by sheer energy. Drunk, sober, stoned and in between. This one had an air of a comfortable old shoe, and although one that had been worn way too many times, it was the camaraderie this time, that pushed it over. Especially between Leo and Huntz. As I said, this should have been the Bowery Boys swan song.
P.S. Carl Switzer so successfully erased that Alfalfa image, and was SO good, it's a wonder it didn't lead to more decent roles for him in the ensuing years.
How's that for a review first thing on a Sunday? - DTS
A SACH IN TIME
"Go ahead and faint, Louie! There's a soft rock!"
NOTES BY JB: Throughout this film, Leo Gorcey looks alternately healthy and ill, most likely due to alcohol abuse. The next film, Crashing Las Vegas, would show him even even worse shape. Before the release of Dig That Uranium, Bernard Gorcey died from complications of an automobile accident. A devastated Leo Gorcey, who increased his drinking and caused trouble on and off the set, quit the series after Crashing Las Vegas.
In this final Bowery Boys film to star Leo Gorcey, Sach gains the ability to predict numbers, and coincidentally, the boys win a trip to Las Vegas where predicting numbers comes in handy at the roulette table. Naturally, there are some crooked people hanging around the casino who want to take advantage of Sach's power, or at least steal all of the money Sach has won.
That's your basic plot, and it makes for a decent Bowery Boys flick. Watching Gorcey, it is obvious to see that he is in various stages of inebriation or post-inebriation in just about every scene of the movie. The death of his father Bernard hit him hard, and he caused much trouble on the set during filming. Yet, his performance is full of energy and fun. He's like your favorite drunk uncle at a party. It might not be the way you want to remember Leo Gorcey, but it is the way Leo chose to leave the series.
Once in a while, the writers come up with a creative and memorable sight gag, and Crashing Las Vegas contains one of the best when Slip puts a coin into the slot machine in the boys' hotel room, and comes up with triple lemons. Guess what the machine rewards him with!
Many fans would prefer to remember Crashing Las Vegas as the last real Bowery Boys flick. I certainly would. The last seven films are a mixed bag and can almost be considered Huntz Hall solo films.
The trailer for Fighting Trouble called them "The Bowery Boys" but don't let that fool you. These aren't The Bowery Boys. This is Huntz Hall, David Gorcey, and two other guys. No Slip. No Louie. No Sweet Shop. I re-utterate: these are not The Bowery Boys.
Only... they were, officially. With Leo Gorcey now out of the series but still pulling strings behind the scenes, Stanley Clements, known to Gorcey and Hall from his sporadic appearances in the East Side Kids series, was called upon to play Stanley "Duke" Kovaleski, new leader of the group. The group, such as it was, consisted of Hall, David Gorcey and newcomer - and quick new-leaver - Danny Welton.
To his credit, Huntz Hall threw himself into the film with gusto. With his name now appearing as the sole credit above The Bowery Boys, Hall must have felt some sense of pride, paired with the necessity to make this a decent picture if the Bowery Boys had any chance to continue. So if you like Huntz Hall (and if you don't, you wouldn't have made it this far into the series), Fighting Fools is an enjoyable picture, as Hall plays his usual Sach character, a French interior decorator, and a hypochondriac gangster. Yes, there are gangsters, of course, one of which Sach and Duke must find evidence on while working for a local newspaper. To say that Fighting Trouble is a rehash of several other Bowery Boys films is hardly a criticism, as this group had been recycling the same five or six plots since the East Side comedies.
The biggest problem with Fighting Trouble is not the plot, nor is it Stanley Clements, who does a decent job as a fast-talking if not terribly funny wiseguy. The biggest problem is that without Leo Gorcey and his dad around, Huntz Hall has nobody to play off of, so the film is not so much a Bowery Boys picture as it is a Huntz Hall picture. Viewed as such, it is entertaining, but you might not be able to shake the feeling that hangs over this picture of the powers that be trying to squeeze the last few drops of juice out of a ten-year old orange.
In my review of 1947's Bowery
Bombshell, I mention how far
the boys could carry a film on personality alone. Hots Shots
an example of the opposite - how little even a halfway decent script
means when the boys aren't trying. It doesn't even
Sach on screen, but rather Huntz Hall going through the motions; no
ad-libbing, just saying whatever lines are in the script.
does recite a good line, Leo Gorcey is no longer there for a
reaction. So far, Stanley Clements has been given unending
variations of "Shut up!" as replies to Sach's nonsense. David
Gorcey has never shown any propensity as a comic, and I honestly can't
recall what the latest Bowery Boy, Jimmy Murphy as "Myron",
like. So, as with Fighting
we still have only one funny member of the cast to carry things, and
the difference is that in Fighting
Trouble, Huntz Hall was still
The story and script themselves are not bad. A child television star befriends Sach and Duke, preferring to hang out with the boys rather than spend time on the set of his daily TV show. The show's producers hire Sach and Duke as vice-presidents whose only job is to keep the kid happy. When the boy is kidnapped, the boys swing into action and save the day. Robert Shayne (Inspector Henderson from The Adventures of Superman) and Joi Lansing offer decent support, and the kid, Philip Phillips, works well with the boys.
But without a fully committed Huntz Hall, it's just not all that interesting.