Slip gets fired from his job at a construction company for decking his boss. His sister, who got him a job at the company, is angry with him. Slip manages to get a job with the District ... See full summary »
During the Civil War Confederate soldiers escape from a Union prison and head for the Mexican border. Along the way they kill a Union courier who has a message that the war is over. Keeping... See full summary »
Slip gets fired from his job at a construction company for decking his boss. His sister, who got him a job at the company, is angry with him. Slip manages to get a job with the District Attorney serving warrants, as does Sach. Through his job, Slip finds out that all is not quite kosher at his old construction company, and that his sister may be in danger. Written by
The first of 48 Bowery Boys movies. In 1945, when East Side Kids producer Sam Katzman refused to grant Leo Gorcey's request to double his weekly salary, Gorcey quit the series, formed his own production company (owning 40% of it) with his agent Jan Grippo called Jan Grippo Productions, revamped the format including getting rid of the teenaged stories and rechristened the series The Bowery Boys (i.e., "Leo Gorcey and The Bowery Boys"). See more »
The East Side Kids, knockoffs of the Dead End Kids, appeared in 21 films at Monogram Pictures from 1940-45. They became the Bowery Boys in a new series, also at Monogram, starting with LIVE WIRES (1946) and destined to last until 1958. Of the six actors who made up the original Dead End Kids, only Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, and Bobby Jordan appear in LIVE WIRES. (Jordan left the Bowery series in 1947 after eight films. Gabe Dell, another former Dead End/East Side Kid, joined the Bowery Boys for the fourth film in the series, but stayed only through the end of 1950.) The East Side Kids films tended to have a gritty, urban feel to them, with dramatic plots, bursts of violence, and characters who looked, sounded and behaved like they hung out on the street 24 hours a day, amidst settings built to replicate familiar slum spaces like cramped tenement apartments, basement clubhouses, alleys, storefronts, warehouses, soda counters, cheap dives, bookie joints, etc. The Bowery Boys films tended to specialize in lowbrow comedy and slapstick hijinks, often sending the Boys on not-so-exotic adventures far from the Bowery.
LIVE WIRES has some comedy and familiar schtick, including Gorcey's patented mangling of big words ("why, they'll put me up on a pedestrian") and lots of slapping each other with hats, but it's much more interested in a routine crime tale that gets unnecessarily convoluted as more characters pile on. Slip Mahoney (Gorcey) has trouble holding a job and is seen failing at one thing after another (including a long, tiresome routine involving the sidewalk peddling of a phony stain remover) until he joins Sach (Hall) as a "skip tracer," basically repo men assigned to track down deadbeats and repossess merchandise that hasn't been fully paid for. It's an unlikely profession for these two and not something we'll ever see them do again. Slip does, however, prove quite efficient and, in one clever scene, manages to trick an unlucky nightclub chanteuse out of her coveted convertible. Eventually, the boys are recruited to track down and serve summonses to the ringleaders of a citywide car theft ring. This leads to a comical encounter in the film's final 15 minutes with a childlike but physically aggressive mountain-sized gangster who effortlessly (and "playfully") bounces the hapless Slip off the walls of a well-appointed lounge with a fully-stocked bar. (The gangster is played by third-billed Mike Mazurki as a take-off on Moose Malloy, the not-so-gentle giant he played in the Philip Marlowe film noir classic, MURDER, MY SWEET, 1944, a connection referenced in the ads for LIVE WIRES.)
Too much of the film takes place in spacious offices, apartments, stores and a fancy club. You'd think the film actually had a budget. There's very little East Side or Bowery flavor on view. When addresses are given, they're not recognizable Manhattan addresses. (I'm sorry, but there are no "Walnut and 3rd" or "4th and Main" in Manhattan.) Slip's sister Mary (Pamela Blake), who plays the mother figure in his life, has far more screen time than any of the other Bowery Boys, aside from Sach. There's a Louie's Ice Cream Parlor, but no Louie Dumbrowsky. The actor who later played Louie, Bernard Gorcey (Leo's dad), shows up at the parlor here, but as a bookie named Jack Kane. Of the five Bowery Boys, in addition to Slip, Sach and Bobby (Jordan), there are Whitey (Billy Benedict, also a regular in the East Side Kids) and the wildly unfamiliar Homer (played by William Frambes in his only Bowery Boys movie), a farm boy who seems to have wandered off the set of one of Universal's Ma and Pa Kettle films.
LIVE WIRES was the fifth film directed by Phil Karlson, who is better known for his violent, hard-hitting crime thrillers from the 1950s (KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL, 99 RIVER STREET, FIVE AGAINST THE HOUSE, THE PHENIX CITY STORY, THE BROTHERS RICO) and '70s (WALKING TALL, FRAMED). He keeps things moving when he can and throws in a couple of action scenes, including a brawl started by Slip at a nightclub, but the script gives him little opportunity to craft anything particularly memorable out of this. Later films in the series would perfect the formula by placing Gorcey and Hall in center stage as a comedy team and putting them in all manner of slapstick situations and crimefighting shenanigans, sometimes keeping them at home in the Bowery and sometimes sending them off to such not-so-very-convincing locations as Paris, London, Bagdad, Las Vegas, the Wild West, the Ozarks, and assorted military bases.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?