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Spook Busters

Spook Busters(1946)

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teaser Spook Busters (1946)

Forty years before the Bill Murray/Dan Aykroyd blockbuster, there was another Ghostbusters. This one starred The Bowery Boys and was retitled Spook Busters before its release in 1946. Billed in this film as "Leo Gorcey and The Bowery Boys," Gorcey (Slip), Huntz Hall (Sach), Bobby Jordan (Bobby), William Benedict (Whitey), and Gabriel Dell (Gabie) had been known as "The Dead End Kids" after appearing in the Humphrey Bogart film Dead End (1937) and in Sidney Kingsley's original 1935 Broadway production (in which future director Sidney Lumet played one of the kids). The troupe also appeared in several "B" series under the names Little Tough Guys and The East Side Kids, and appeared in "A" pictures like They Made Me a Criminal (1939) with John Garfield, and Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) with James Cagney and Pat O'Brien.

After working at the Samuel Goldwyn Company, Warner Bros. and Universal, the troupe moved to the much lower budget Monogram Pictures. Leo Gorcey's agent, Jan Grippo, became producer of the series and renamed them "The Bowery Boys." Not surprisingly, he put Gorcey out front as the leader, with Hall as lead supporting actor. Spook Busters was the fourth film in the series. Also in the cast were famed character actor Douglass Dumbrille (Dr. Coslow), and two members of Leo Gorcey's family - his brother, David Gorcey (who often worked under the name David Condon) as Chuck, and his father, noted Broadway actor Bernard Gorcey (Louie Dumbrowski).

"Danger - Spooks Ahead! But you can't scare The Bowery Boys!" warned the trailer for Spook Busters. The film had the boys (now working as exterminators) hired to get rid of some ghosts that have plagued a spooky run-down mansion. There are just about every scary house clich in this film, like disappearing cabinets, secret passageways, mad scientists, and, yes, that most bizarre element of a 1940's wacky comedy - a guy in a gorilla suit.

Released on August 24, 1946, the film was popular with audiences, as J.B. Stine, a theater owner in Terre Haute, Indiana told a reporter. "[M]aybe the whole outfits is nuts, including the director. Our patrons go for [Spook Busters] in a big way. It is silly, noisy and insane, but thirty-four long years in show business has taught me that giving the customers what they want is the surest way to success." The Bowery Boys would continue to give the customers what they wanted for another forty-four films before the series ended for good in 1958.

SOURCES:

The Internet Movie Database
Marshall, Wendy L. William Beaudine; From Silents to Television
http://movies.msn.com/movies/movie-synopsis/spook-busters/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPvQI-2kAP8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkoNoGtI5LY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvKbls33qfU

By Lorraine LoBianco

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