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|Index||11 reviews in total|
I've always have liked this Bowery Boys outing "Master Minds". True, it does steal from the Bowery Boys film "Spook Busters" (where a mad scientist wants to give Huntz Hall's brain to an ape), but this film works, anyway. Here, we get to see Satch's (Huntz Hall) brain and an ape-ish monster's (Glenn Strange) brain swapped and the results are hilarious. Strange is a riot when he speaks in Hall's voice and uses Hall's campy mannerisms. Gabriel Dell and Bernard Gorcey show up at the house too, to rescue the boys. The exterior of the house and its front yard are filmed on extremely creepy looking sets. Kudos to Monogram for this splendid production and wonderful addition to the Bowery Boys series.
I have to chime in with the other two users in singling out Glenn
Strange's performance as the high point of this movie. Sure there are
lots of the usual Bowery Boys hi-jinks to keep their fans amused, but
it's when the hulking Strange shows up in full monster make-up doing a
dead-on Huntz Hall impression that this movie really takes off. Who
knew the one time Frankenstein monster had this kind of comedy talent
in him? Probably my favorite of the series for just that reason.
(I need three more lines to get this posted, which is really a shame because it would be nice to be able to compliment an actor's performance without having to resort to padding --- although since I'm not padding this with "junk words" I hope it will be considered a valid submission. If not, forgive me. I did my best. I myself think brevity is an asset and would like to see it encouraged.)
I usually watch the Dead End kids out of nostalgia. I must have seen many of their films in first run showings as a kid, since I still think "Whitey" whenever I see Billy Benedict in any movie. This movie has to be one of my "guilty pleasures" since it's pretty silly stuff, yet I couldn't help laughing throughout. The plot has Glenn Strange and Huntz Hall exchanging brain contents because of experiments conducted by mad scientist Alan Napier. Hall's voice is used whenever Strange talks, but Strange's movements and mannerisms are his, and they are perfect imitations of Hall's. If you have watched a few of the Bowery Boys series and get to know Hall's antics, you will enjoy this movie. There are other pleasures, the best of which is Leo Gorcey's fracturing of the English language, but the reason to see this movie is Glenn Strange.
No doubt inspired by the success of Abbott&Costello Meet Frankenstein,
the folks at Monogram Pictures did a nice reworking of the plot at
albeit a lower budget for the Bowery Boys in Master Minds.
Although with the rest of the human race eating too much sugar is a guarantee of diabetes, with Horace DeBussy Jones it gives psychic powers that are positively diabolic. They intrigue Alan Napier who is conducting the usual mad scientist experiments and he manages to electrically transfer Huntz Hall's brain into the body of Frankenstein creature Glenn Strange and vice versa.
If I were unkind I'd say that Universal Pictures and A&C were ripped off by the Bowery Boys. That doesn't mean this particular comedy wasn't good in fact seeing Glenn Strange with Huntz Hall mannerisms imitated and Huntz Hall voice coming from him is positively hilarious. Added to the rest of the Bowery Boy monkeyshines, Master Minds is one of the best of the series.
You wouldn't know by its title, but this Bowery Boys comedy is of
interest to old horror film fans like me, with a "mad doctor" plot and
a cast featuring various monster movie personalities. Here we have the
dimwitted Sach (Huntz Hall) amazingly endowed with special powers each
time he aggravates a nagging toothache by chomping on candy. He gains
the uncanny ability to accurately predict future happenings a la
Nostradamus, and is quickly exploited as a sideshow attraction by his
greedy partner Slip Mahoney (Leo Gorcey). Meanwhile, an eccentric
scientist (Alan Napier) decides that Sach's mind is the perfect one to
transfer to his growling man/ape Atlas (Glenn Strange), and sets out to
The main attraction here is getting to watch the usually limited Glenn Strange (who played Frankenstein's stumbling Monster in some of Universal's classics like the previous year's ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN) do some of his most notable work. Strange is a marvel to behold when he switches minds with the prissy and childlike Sach, impersonating Huntz Hall's effeminate mannerisms and miming to his voice-overs. Among the familiar cast are Jane Adams and Skelton Knaggs (both also appeared with Glenn Strange in Universal's "House Of Dracula"), who play assistants to the doctor. Alan Napier is not quite right for this type of "mad doctor" part ... too bad they couldn't have gotten Bela Lugosi or John Carradine. The funniest part of the movie is an early scene where Sach is on stage predicting unpleasant outcomes for a few frazzled audience members, but the second half could have been tighter. The brain-swapping shenanigans are cute enough, but are all over the place. Still, a standout entry in the '40s Bowery Boys series. **1/2 out of ****
This is definitely one of the better entries in the Bowery Boys movies,
full of clever plot devices which seem to be borrowed heavily from
other even scarier Abbot and Costello movies like A & C MEET
FRANKENSTEIN. In this one, Huntz Hall and Glenn Strange are forced to
switch brains (and personalities) by mad doctor Alan Napier.
The result is some really hilarious acting from Hall and Strange. Glenn has much more to do than he usually did in those Universal horror films he often appeared in. When he apes the mannerisms of Huntz Hall (with Hall's high pitched voice and giggle), he's hilarious.
The other Bowery Boys go through their usual paces, but it's a fun film from start to finish with Glenn Strange really given a chance to show what a good character actor he was.
If you're a fan of the Boys, this is of their best.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well I consider myself as big a Bowery Boys fan as the next guy, but
this is a pretty brainless episode. Not that all their other adventures
were high spots in the realm of dramatic cinema, but at least they had
a bit of continuity. I'll get to that in a minute.
For starters though, I couldn't get over that opening scene. The story begins with Sach (Huntz Hall) reading 'Famous Predictions of Nostradamus'! Holy cow - Nostradamus! This was over sixty years ago, and some of Nostradamus' predictions didn't even happen yet - like the assassination of John F. Kennedy! I've studied Nostradamus off and on for a number of years now, and he would never have predicted the Bowery Boys - I'd bet on it.
Of course, Nostradamus is only the prop that's used to introduce Sach to a new found power he possesses, but only while experiencing the pain of a toothache. Going into a trance, Sach has the uncanny ability to predict the future. It doesn't take long for Slip (Leo Gorcey) and Gabe (Gabriel Dell) to swing into action to capitalize on the gimmick. Instantly, Sach becomes Ali Ben Sachmo, The Bowery Prophet. Had this story gone in a different direction, Huntz Hall might have been paired with Louis Armstrong as the bi-racial Sachmo Brothers. Yeah, I'm stretching here, but when I get these ideas I have to commit them to writing.
What makes the story fun is the goofy personality transfer that Sach undergoes when he's kidnapped by a mad scientist (Alan Napier) for the purpose of turning his brutish half-ape discovery into a genius. If you like these era pictures, you've probably seen Glenn Strange in any number of genres, though Westerns were his specialty. But he did take a turn as Frankenstein a few times in his career (1944's "House of Frankenstein", 1945's "House of Dracula", 1948's "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein"). He also has a role as a brutish lab assistant in the 1944 flick "The Monster Maker". The great thing about Strange here is his uncanny ability to channel Huntz Hall with all of Sach's mannerisms and the dubbed voice that just cracks you up when you see it.
But here's the thing, relative to my earlier comment. The personality of Sach is evident in both Sach himself and the Atlas character at the same time, and more than once! Huh? How does that work? I don't want to seem too picky here, but I think the story could have done a better job of keeping those personalities separate while the gang was trying to sort things out. Maybe that's why Slip opined with "This is a very interesting piece of bric and brats"!
Before concluding, I have to pose a couple of questions, because I can't figure them out for myself. For starters, why does Constable Hoskins wear a badge on his pajamas? And secondly - is Louie Dumbrowski (Bernard Gorcey) shrinking with each successive Bowery Boys flick he appears in?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When the constant chewing of candy brings on a cavity causes a
tooth-ache and leaves Sach (Huntz Hall) with the ability to see into
the future, you know that silliness is about to take over the screen
for an hour. Slip (Leo Gorcey) utilizes Sach's powers to create a tent
show where under the influence of his toothache, Sach predicts various
things, such as the unending presence of a mother-in-law at one of the
audience member's homes, as well as the fact that a soon to be
millionaire will be broke within a year. His phenomenon makes him front
page news, causing a mad doctor (Alan Napier, "Batman's" Alfred) to
kidnap him (Sach even predicts that!) to combine his brain with that of
a Neanderthal (Glenn Strange)! It certainly is strange to see Strange
flitting around the screen in Sach like mannerisms with Hall's voice
coming out of his mouth, while Hall saunters around like Frankenstein's
monster, violently grunting and attacking others with super-human
strength. It's up to Slip, Gabriel Dell ("Gabe") and others from the
gang, and even crotchety Louie (Bernard Gorcey), to rescue Sach from a
fate worse than a brain transplant.
With Leo Gorcey, there's malapropisms galore, and as usual, they just seem sillier and sillier, but often, they are very funny. If Hall's actions as Sach made him appear to be rather effeminate, just imagine how it looks with Glenn Strange doing it. Obviously, Hall was straight in real life, but as the series expanded from Dead End to East End to Bowery Boys, the character's mannerisms became more exaggerated. Jane Adams is the attractive nurse seemingly blackmailed by Napier into staying in his employee. Napier seems to have been cast simply based upon his resemblance to Boris Karloff. While Bela Lugosi did several of the East End Kids films, Karloff was obviously not going to accept. Look for a short appearance by occasional "East End"/"Bowery Boys" guest star Minerva Urecal whose characters varied from spooky housekeepers to even judges. This entry is fun, if nothing exceptional; Sometimes their films were so funny that I felt I had to rate them higher even though on the whole they weren't all that great.
Reading "Famous Predictions of Nostradamus" and eating too much candy
helps give gluttonous Huntz Hall (as Sach) the power to see into the
future, after "The Bowery Boys" entrepreneurial leader Leo Gorcey (as
Slip Mahoney) hits him on the head. Since it only happens when the
cavity-stricken Mr. Hall has a toothache, Mr. Gorcey keeps his pal
filled with candy. Gorcey, with help from cohorts Gabriel Dell (as
Gabe), William "Billy" Benedict (as Whitey), Benny "Bennie" Bartlett
(as Butch), and David Gorcey (as Chuck) hawks Hall as "Ali Ben Sachmo"
aka "The Bowery Prophet." Unfortunately, Hall's ability to predict
startling events of the future attracts the attention of mad doctor
Alan Napier (as Druzik), who wants to transport Hall's superior brain
into his hairy creation, Glenn Strange (as Atlas the Monster). Hall and
Mr. Strange are this rushed-looking entry's greatest strengths.
***** Master Minds (11/20/49) Jean Yarbrough ~ Huntz Hall, Leo Gorcey, Glenn Strange, Gabriel Dell
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**SPOILERS** With Sach, through a toothache, developing psychic powers
in him being able to see the future he becomes an overnight sensation
in him being billed as the great Ali Ben Sachmo the modern day
successor to Nostradamus. It's at the creepy and haunted Forsythe
Mansion outside city limits that mad scientist Dr. Druzik read about
Sachmo in the local papers and decides that it's Sach's brain that he
needs to finish his experiment to create the perfect human being.
Having created a perfect body, that he calls Atlas, all Dr. Druzik now
needs is a perfect brain for it. And Sach's brain in Dr. Druzik's
learned opinion is the perfect brain to put or install in it!
After kidnapping Sach out of Louie Dumbrowski's Sweet Shop Dr. Druzik and his two goons Hugo & Otto get him ready for a brain transportation operation with the Neanderthal Atlas that succeeds in switching his primitive brain into Sach's skull. Thus making the sweet nutty and inoffensive Sach into a wild beast and Atlas, despite his tremendous size & strength, into a wimpy and afraid of his own shadow sissy!
The Bowery Boys lead by Slip and Gabe track down Sach to the Forsythe Mansion after he as Atlas, who didn't know his own strength, wrecked Louie's Sweet Shop. It's at the mansion that the boys run into Sach who's brain is now that of the brutish Atlas who would like nothing better then to rip hem apart. Like in a Three card Monte game both Sach and Atlas' brains keep switching during the entire movie where it's hard to tell which, body that is, is which which makes things, for Slip and the boys, even more difficult then they already are! It's isn't that long until help finally arrives in the person of the local Constable Isiah Hoskins and his family who get the goods Dr. Druzik not on his inhuman experiments but the one crime that he, as well as Al Capone, never figured that he was guilty of: Tax Evasion!
***SPOILERS*** It was good for once to see Sach not getting smacked around by his good friend Slip Mahoney with him, as Atlas, doing the smacking. Watching Sach in action I had the distinct feeling that he was really enjoying the fact that this was his big chance to get even with everyone, especially Slip, who've been slapping and kicking him around all these years. But sadly, for Sach, it wasn't to last that long with him losing, by swallowing it, his magic wisdom tooth that gave him the power of prophecy and thus becoming the same old klutzy Sach that we all know & love as well, as in the case of his good friend Slip, slap around!
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