Sometimes it's hard to tell one Bowery Boys movie from another. They tend to have similar plots, similar settings and interchangeable titles. This 1944 movie is named 'Block Busters', but the plot of this movie doesn't fit that title any more aptly than the plots of half a dozen other Bowery Boys movies.
The new kid on the block has come here all the way from France. His name is Jean, with the French pronunciation 'Zhawn'. He's played by an American teenager with a French accent that sounds supiciously faux, but we can tell he's French because he constantly wears a beret. At least this lad is a genuine teenager, unlike Mugs and Glimpy and Butch, who are all pushing thirty and look it. This movie was made in 1944: Jean is a wartime refugee, which raises the question of why Mugs and Glimpy and Butch aren't in the army.
SPOILERS COMING. Of course, Jean doesn't fit in ... and of course it's up to the Bowery Boys to set things right. Mugs tells Jean to get rid of his beret, and also suggests that Zhawn should change his French name to the more American pronunciation 'Jeen'. (Yeah, but ain't dat a goil's name?) Eventually Mugs and Gimpy teach the beret-boy to play baseball, and everybody gets along toot sweet.
The most interesting thing about 'Block Busters' is the supporting cast. Not the French kid, played by an untalented actor. 'Block Busters' features the only appearance in the entire Bowery Boys canon of silent-film comedian Harry Langdon, in a supporting role as a local meddler. Unfortunately, Langdon has nothing funny to do here, and he plays an unsympathetic character. This was Langdon's last film to be released during his lifetime. Minerva Urecal, a harridan who worked with Lou Costello and other major comedians, is prominently featured here. The baseball game features an appearance by Charles Murray Jnr, son of one of the most beloved silent-film comedians, who had a long career at the Keystone studio. (Murray Senior was extremely popular among his peers in the industry.) Unfortunately, the son didn't inherit his father's talent or his father's naturally funny physical appearance.
'Block Busters' is one of the more realistic Bowery Boys movies (if you can ignore the ages of the 'teenage' actors), but it's not especially funny and its plot falls short of a gripping narrative. I'll rate this movie 3 points out of 10.
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