"In the Gay Nineties New York had grown up into bustles and balloon Sleeves ... but The Bowery had grown younger, louder and more rowdy until it was known as the 'Livest Mile on the face of... See full summary »
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"In the Gay Nineties New York had grown up into bustles and balloon Sleeves ... but The Bowery had grown younger, louder and more rowdy until it was known as the 'Livest Mile on the face of the globe' ... the cradle of men who were later to be famous." The scene opens in a saloon named "Nigger Joe's" ... Written by
Michael Crew <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My summary is NOT meant to be hostile, but an accurate summation of my feelings about the film. While the plot is very silly and the film has many strikes against it, there is a certain likability about the film that made it enjoyable. The biggest deficits were the amazingly racist nature of the first portion of the film and the other was that the people in the film seemed more like caricatures instead of real people.
As for the racism, while usually I hate politically correct types who dismiss a film entirely, this time they would have a good point. In the first 15 minutes, you hear just about every racial slur you can imagine (even the unthinkable "N-bomb"--a word which, in recent years, is worse to mutter than any previous word uttered by mankind or ever to be uttered). Plus the whole throwing rocks at the Chinese bit is pretty sick. For kicks, young Jackie Cooper likes to throw rocks through windows belonging to Chinese immigrants. In one instance, the rock smashes a lamp and burns down a building. During this raging fire, you see lots of Chinese men on the top floor screaming for help--yet this scene, believe it or not, is played for laughs!! Apparently back in the 1930s, roasting Chinese people was a real laugh riot (see the Wikipedia entry on "Nanking" for more on this).
The main characters in the film are Chuck Conners (Wallace Beery) and Steve Brodie (George Raft)--two rivals who spend almost the entire film at each other's throats. These two gamblers are determined to be THE biggest and most beloved resident of the Bowery and are constantly trying to one-up each other. Most of this is pretty funny and there is a certain stupid likability about their antics. In many ways, it's all like a cartoon and you know you'd NEVER see people like this in real life--but still an endearing and cute cartoon. Plus, having Cooper and Pert Kelton along for the ride just added to the silly charm of this cartoony version of Gay 90s New York.
Overall, very watchable and fun--but also ridiculously unbelievable and racist. Worth seeing but far from a must-see.
3 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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