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Sunday, November 4, 2012

BLOODHOUNDS OF BROADWAY (1952)

This Damon Runyon adaptation was trying to hitch a ride on the GUYS AND DOLLS bandwagon. (The film version of the hit B’way musical wouldn’t come out till ‘55.) But there’s little Runyon flavor to be had in this tale of a backwoods gal (Mitzi Gaynor) who reforms Scott Brady’s Times Square wiseguy. In fact, little flavor of any kind. What a colorless crew of lowlifes, hangers-on, sharpies & book-makers the guy runs around with! To say nothing of the forgettable dames & coppers. Five or six musical numbers get shoe-horned in, but only a trio for Gaynor, Mitzi Green & dancer Richard Allan (‘I’ve Got a Feelin’ You’re Foolin’‘) puts out a bit of larky energy. And we get two (count ‘em, 2!) hayseed 'numbos.' Credit dance director Robert Sidney rather than helmer Harmon Jones for the lift & the corn.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Mitzi Gaynor had it all: looks, voice, legs, steps . . the works. Yet, frustratingly, she makes almost no impression other than cheery ultra-competence. She’s a flawless Ms. Efficient when we want Ms. Memorable, flaws & all. An interview with her in the Extras (she's remarkably well-preserved, sharp & funny), lets her review her incredibly smooth career-track. Maybe the lack of obstacles partially explains what’s missing on screen.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Frank Capra's LADY FOR A DAY/'33 is the great Damon Runyon film; and Lucille Ball had a couple of winners with THE BIG STREET/’42 and SORROWFUL JONES/’49. (Check out the latter to imagine the Adelaide & Nathan Detroit that Ball & Bob Hope might have made in a dream version of GUYS AND DOLLS.)

CONTEST: Spot the uncredited future star seen here as one of Brady’s gang, and name the other film he made in ‘52 playing a comic gangster to win a MAKSQUIBS Write-Up of any NetFlix DVD. As always, no Googling or IMDb, please. What would Runyon have said?

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