Random Film of the Week Quickie: DEAD END

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“I hear the marinara sauce is good in this joint…”

Dead End 1937 MPI love Dead End for a few reasons. It’s a great film based off a stage play that yep, both looks and feels stagey, but that works highly in its favor. It’s a classic Old New York City film just for the location it presents and the feeling that, staging aside, that place actually existed. It also marked the debut of The Dead End Kids who’d later morph into The Little Tough Guys, then The East Side Kids and then into The Bowery Boys with a total of close to 50 audience-pleasing fluff comedies made between 1937 and 1958. To some non-fans of the Boys, this only proves the law of diminishing returns should have been more strictly obeyed and enforced (ha and ha). But, I digress.

It also has Humphrey Bogart in an early knockout role as a slickly dressed but menacing thug who returns to his old stomping grounds with a brand new facelift for mixed results. Finally, it’s a nicely directed “message” film by the great William Wyler that works on many levels, some of which soak in only after a second or third viewing. Go grab your popcorn, pal. I’ll wait. Oh, you’re making it on the stove the old-fashioned way? Good. I’ll go get a bowl and meet you back here in five.

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Bogie lets McCrea know he can’t wear a hat AND a bucket at the same time.

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Random Film of the Week: History Is Made At Night

(Thanks, jolaysius!)

History Is Made At Night_MPUp until I saw all of Frank Borzage’s wonderful History Is Made At Night, the only part I’d seen was a hilarious clip that had me laughing a wee bit too hard because I’d taken it way out of context (it’s not hard to do, people). That “Cleo” gag is used again in the film, but by that time you’re probably going to be caught up in the blend of comedy and melodrama on display that adds a slight dip into disaster movie territory and tosses in a suicide for good measure. Borzage’s film isn’t your run of the mill funny flick at all and that’s exactly what makes it worth tracking down.

The plot is a bit loopy for sure, but the cast makes it work as things move from silly to serious and back again. If you’ve yet to see it, you can walk in on this film at a few different points and think you’re watching two or three different movies. It’s got some screwball elements for sure, but it’s also deeply romantic and suddenly serious as it ping-pongs about the emotional spectrum. Then again, real life is just like that at many times (which is why I like this oldie so much)…
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