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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>
Check political correctness at the door when entering the Bowery
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.
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