The Bowery (1933)

Bowery (1) The Bowery (1933)

Run time: 92 min
Rating: 7.0
Genres: Comedy | Drama
Director: Raoul Walsh
Writers: Michael L. Simmons, Bessie Roth Solomon
Stars: Wallace Beery, George Raft, Jackie Cooper
Storyline
A still controversial and disturbing pre-Code treatment of racial prejudice and sexism in New York’s Lower East Side around the turn of the century.
Details:
Release Date: 7 October 1933 (USA)
Box Office
Budget: $421,496 (estimated)

4 responses to “The Bowery (1933)”

  1. rgkeenan says:

    "The Bowery", along with "Me and My Gal"(1932), is probably director Raoul Walsh’s best film at Fox. This is a one Walsh picture that will appeal to all kinds of audiences and perhaps turn you into a devoted Walsh enthusiast. I’ve always been a big Walsh fanatic and "Bowery" is one of few of his pictures that has eluded for quite some time. I finally saw it and was blown away by it.

    "Bowery" is also Walsh’s best film of 1933, easily eclipsing the ponderous "Going Hollywood". Inspired by Mae West’s hugely successful comedy-riot "She Done Him Wrong", Walsh rightfully turned this pre-Code frolic into his own. All the Walsh touches are here in full bloom: the rousing ebullience & energy, the portrait of everyday life, the sheer innocence of its characters, the nostalgic evocation of the Gay 90s (Walsh’s own impressionable years), and the unsophisticated resort to ribald humor, brawls, and jocularity. It also features John L. Sullavan, Errol Flynn’s famous opponent in Walsh’s 1942 boxing classic "Gentleman Jim".

    George Raft and Wallace Beery are excellent as the two rivals in New York’s Bowery of the 1890s. They are fighting for the love of Fay Wray (always a welcome sight). Jackie Cooper, playing the streetwise rascal, reunites with Beery after their successful teaming in Vidor’s "The Champ" and it is great to watch them again.

    Ultimately, though, it is Walsh’s sheer exuberance that counts the most. "Bowery" is one of my all-time favorite films, the kind of picture that you would like to watch again and again. A must if you get a chance to see it.

  2. rgkeenan says:

    A favourite of mine,this movie tells of two feuding New York "characters", Steve Brodie(Raft) and "Chuck" Connors(Beery),who both strive to be the "Main Guy" in the Bowery in the late Nineteenth Century.

    Brodie(1863-1901) and Connors(1852-1913),were real people,though this is a heavily fictionalized account of their antics(based on a play).Brodie’s legendary(did he do it?- it’s still a cause of argument!),jump from the Brooklyn bridge(1886),for which he became famous,is shown here as happening around the same time as the Spanish-American war(1898).Director Walsh clearly had a great affection for the period,so beautifully recreated here,and it includes a wild rumbustious ragtime number from saloon singer Trixie Odbray(a young Pert Kelton).Raft is at his slickest as Brodie,and Beery shows again what a clever actor he was,as tough, big hearted, and at times quite touching Connors.Pretty Fay Wray is the love interest both the boys are pursuing.

    Full of life and energy,"The Bowery" moves at a fast pace(unlike many early "talkies").It is not an easy movie to find,but is well worth looking out for.

  3. rgkeenan says:

    Culled from the real life exploits of Chuck Connors and Steve Brodie in 1890s New York, "The Bowery" is high energy and good natured.

    But be warned: Casual racial epithets flow off the tongues of Wallace Beery and little Jackie Cooper. The very first shot might be startling. This is true to the time it was set and the time it was made. And it also speaks to the diversity of population in that neck of the woods. It certainly adds to the gritty flavor of the atmosphere.

    Beery as Connors is the blustering thunder at the center of the action, a loud-mouth saloon keeper with his own fire brigade. And he has a soft spot for ornery orphan Cooper. Raft as Brodie is Connors' slicker, better looking rival in almost every endeavor. Brodie could never turn down a dare and loved attention, leading up to a jump off the Brooklyn Bridge (it is still debated whether he actually jumped or used a dummy).

    Beery is as bombastic as ever with a put-on Irish-American accent. He is just the gruff sort of character to draw children, cats and ladies in distress. This is possibly the most boisterous character Raft ever played, and he even gets to throw in a little dancing (as well as a show of leg). And again he mistakes the leading lady (lovely Fay Wray) for a prostitute. Cooper is as tough as either of them, though he gets a chance to turn on the tears.

    The highlight isn't the jump off the bridge but a no-holds-barred fistfight between Connors and Brodie that in closeup looks like a real brawl between the principals. It's sure someone bruised more than an ego.

  4. rgkeenan says:

    George Raft as Steve Brodie, the carefree, dancing gambler who can never refuse a dare, is pitted against the lumbering, sentimental, Chuck Connors (Wallace Beery).A soft touch for every panhandler, Connors impulsively adopts waifs and strays, notably runaway orphan "Swipes" (Jackie Cooper, complete with kittens!) and the homeless Lucy Calhoun, an out-of-town innocent with ambitions to become a writer.

    In this male-dominated culture, communication takes place mostly in the form of violence (one sees why THE BOWERY is a Martin Scorsese favorite). Exploding cigars provide a running gag. "Swipes" enjoys throwing rocks through windows in Chinatown, on one occasion setting a laundry alight. (The simultaneous arrival of both Brodie’s and Beery’s volunteer fire companies leads to a brawl, during which the building burns to the ground.) Beery casually saps a troublesome girl, and thumps anyone who disagrees with him, including Brodie, whom he defeats, in a night-time fist fight on a moored barge, to regain control of his saloon, lost on a bet that Brodie wouldn’t have the courage to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. (Brodie does make the leap, but only because a subterfuge with a dummy fails at the last moment.)

    As usual, Walsh fills the frame with detail, illustrating with relish the daily life of the tenderloin; singing waiters, bullying barmen, whores from Suicide Hall being hustled into the Black Maria, tailors collaring hapless hicks off the street and forcing them to buy suits they don’t want. A minor but admirable little film.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.