Bowery, The (1933)
“Remember what I always tells ya: this is a man’s world.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
… while volunteer firemen brigades engage in a street brawl rather than putting out the fire — and to know that the fire itself was caused by Cooper being given “permission” by Beery to “throw just a tiny rock in the Chinks’ window” (naturally, not a shred of guilt is expressed by either party). Regardless of these hideously uncomfortable scenes, however, Connor and Brodie’s lifelong rivalry simply doesn’t sustain a narrative; the “high point” of the story occurs when Brodie jumps off the Brooklyn Bridge on a dare:
… and Connor loses his saloon as a result — but who really cares about these louts anyway? Fay Wray is sympathetic but wasted as Brodie’s love interest:
while Cooper seems to be simply reprising his earlier role opposite Beery in The Champ (1931).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
One thought on “Bowery, The (1933)”
First viewing. Not a must; in agreement with the assessment.
What was probably meant as broad, commercial entertainment at the time now looks wrong-headed for reasons stated. Though director Walsh does an efficient-enough job, the whole thing plods along from episode to episode – with the stringing, running gag of an exploding cigar, meant to symbolize (I suppose) the fact that Raft maintains the upper hand over Beery, even though – gosh, darnit – they’ll always be pals no matter what. The racial slurs are so rampant here that one saloon actually boasts the name ‘Nigger Joe’s’.
Oddly enough, the fetching Fay Wray lends a little class and walks off with the picture in her thankless role.
The Beery/Cooper combo and elements of films of this sort were parodied in the Coen Brothers’ film ‘Barton Fink’ (a must and a personal fave).