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Thursday, May 26, 2016

My Guiltiest Pleasure Yet.

For the first time in many weeks TCM is not showing a "Bowery Boys" movie this Saturday morning.
I find this emotionally disturbing.
I am, and have always been a major fan of the "Bowery Boys" saga.
I can't get enough of them.
From the late 30's, when they showed up as the very serious "Dead End Kids", usually in prison, with John Garfield, or Ronald Reagan,
or Cagney, through the early 40's when they were the lighter-hearted "East-Side Kids", usually fighting Nazis.
This is when they made the move from Warner Brothers where money was spent on their movies, to Monogram, where nobody spent money on anything.
The lack of ensuing production values meant nothing to me. And certainly not to them.
To me, they were all just as entertaining.
But the balance of their work began in 1947 when they became "The Bowery Boys", where cheapness reached rock-bottom.
Not that there was any difference in who they portrayed.
Leo Gorcey was always some variation of the group's leader.
Usually named Muggs (real name: Ethelbert McGuiness} or Slip (Real name: Francis Aloysius Mahoney)
See a pattern?
Slip, er, Muggs was a master of malapropism that would put Norm Crosby to shame.
No one was more damaged than Gorcey as the series went on.
He aged far worse than any of the others.
They schlepped in Gorcey's father to play Louie, the soda shoppe proprietor, probably to make Gorcey look younger.
But they were playing out-and-out comedy now, to a fare-thee-well.
Huntz Hall, the eternal clown, seemed to never age.
The others were all interchangeable.
I don't think that there was one instance in any of their films where Gorcey didn't hit Hall with his hat.
And it was always funny.
I know that a lot of people look down their noses at "The Bowery Boys"
And TCM certainly gives them a lot of imprimatur.
I really hope it doesn't stop.


My books, "Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
They are all compilations of blog entries that have since been removed from the blog.
So this is the only way you can find them.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not e-books.
But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at

And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.



  1. I've always found Gorcey and Hall funny, low-budget or not.

  2. The first Bowery Boys movie I ever saw, when I was a kid, was "Hard-Boiled Mahoney." I loved it -- I thought Huntz Hall was a comedy genius, and I probably went on to watch at least most of the Bowery Boys movies. (A local station ran one every weekend.)

    Although these days I probably wouldn't go out of my way to watch a Bowery Boys movie, I share your respect for them. (Actually, I think I watched one a year or two ago.) And you're right about Gorcey -- no comedy performer ever handled (or mishandled?) malapropisms as well as he did.

    By the way, some months ago I heard (or maybe read) the following story about Huntz Hall; I'm pretty sure he's the one who told it.

    When they were casting for the original stage version of "Dead End," Hall tried out for the part that Gorcey eventually got. Having been turned down, Hall left the theater.

    Some time later, a guy approached Hall and said he'd been trying to find him to audition for the play. Hall said he already had been turned down.

    No, wait, the guy said, there's another part for you. So Hall went and tried out and won the role of the character that years later evolved into Sach. (Or is it Satch?)

    Anyway, the guy who tracked Hall down was Martin Gabel -- yep, the Martin Gabel of stage, screen and "What's My Line?" and the husband of Arlene Francis.

  3. The usual TCM weekend hijinks are on hiatus due to Memorial Day...but on June 4th at 10:30am, the Boys are back in "Crazy Over Horses"!

  4. "Hard-Boiled Mahoney" was the second Bowery Boys movie I saw; "Angels In Disguise" was the first.
    The Chicago station was running them twice a week, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
    Between the Bowery Boys, Bomba the Jungle Boy, and late-period Charlie Chan, my adolescence gave me a major appreciation for the work of Monogram Pictures.
    From an early age, I was a credit reader. When I noticed that most of the BB movies were directed by either William Beaudine (who at this point - 1963 - was the regular director of LASSIE) or Jean Yarbrough (who did the Abbott & Costello TV show), a lifetime of making connections began in earnest.

    Names always got my attention, especially if they were names I wouldn't see or hear in my Catholic school.
    The early Bowery Boys films were produced by Jan Grippo - a name that you'd notice.
    I learned many years later that Jan Grippo was Leo Gorcey's agent - and that the two of them were essentially partners in the production.
    So it was Leo Gorcey who cast his father Bernard (and his brother David) in the BB movies; at the least, that was a perk for him.

    Some unexpected highlights would be "Smuggler's Cove", where Leo met his second wife Amelita Ward; "Bowery To Bagdad", with Eric Blore as a drunk genie; "High Society", which was nominated for an Oscar by mistake (it's a short but silly story; you can look it up).

    I'm cribbing most of this from The Films Of The Bowery Boys, by David Hayes and Brent Walker; this is one of those Citadel Press film books that tells you most of what you want to know about any film subject.
    Recently, I've also acquired biographies of Leo Gorcey (written by his son Leo Junior) and Huntz Hall (introduced by his son, the Very Reverend Gary Hall). The DVDs are on order.

    Circa 1968, Huntz Hall appeared on Johnny Carson's Tonight show in New York; I believe he was appearing in an off-Broadway play at the time.
    On the Carson show, Hall was well-dressed, well-groomed, and very well-spoken.
    Several weeks later, when Carson brought Tonight to Hollywood for a sweeps week visit, Leo Gorcey came on as a guest (the story goes that Huntz Hall brokered the appearance).
    Gorcey came out reeling and grinning, plainly feeling no pain; his clothes looked like he slept in them, and his conversation sounded much the same.
    Gorcey only made a handful of appearances after this, always with Huntz Hall supporting him (in several senses of that word).

    "More Than You Wanted To Know" will return.

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."