Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall and several other young actors fashioned a full career from their debut as a gang of tenement kids in the 1935 Broadway play Dead End
. After William Wyler's classic film version two years later, and appearing as similar characters in popular films like Angels with Dirty Faces
(1938), several of the original Dead End kids migrated to Universal's "Little Tough Guys" series, followed in 1939 by Monogram's "East Side Kids" series. Leo Gorcey led a salary revolt in 1945 that resulted in the reformulation of the franchise as "The Bowery Boys", a name that stuck for 48 separate films and lasted until 1958. The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters
(1954) finds the boys with their final cast lineup: Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Bennie Bartlett and Leo's brother David Condon. The Gorceys' father Bernard is also present as sweet shop proprietor Louie Dumbrowsky. The story sees the Boys, still neighborhood slackers, seeking a vacant lot to serve a ball field for slum kids. Inquiring at the spooky Gravesend Mansion, Slip Mahoney (Gorcey) and Sach (Hall) are seized by mad doctors Anton (Lloyd Corrigan) and Derek (John Dehner), who want to transplant their brains into a Gorilla named Cosmos and a remote-controlled robot that answers to the name Gorog. Complicating matters are sister Amelia (favorite Ellen Corby), who can't wait to feed Slip to her man-eating tree. Drifting in and out is niece Francine (Laura Mason), who behaves like a vampire. The boys are naturally fast with the malapropisms and low-grade slapstick, and the action is fairly lively for a movie barely over an hour long, restricted mostly to three rooms and a busy hallway. The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters
didn't rate high in the series, but its monster-oriented theme made it a popular title in reissue and on Television. And who wouldn't appreciate the perfectly silly conclusion? The ape-monster Cosmos plays ball with the neighborhood kids, and is scouted by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
By Glenn Erickson
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