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Keep 'Em Slugging

USA 1943
produced by
Ben Pivar (associate) for Universal
directed by Christy Cabanne
starring Dead End Kids/Little Tough Guys (= Huntz Hall, Bobby Jordan, Gabriel Dell, Norman Abbott), Evelyn Ankers, Elyse Knox, Frank Albertson, Don Porter, Shemp Howard, Samuel S. Hinds, Mary Gordon, Milburn Stone, Joan Marsh, Ernie Adams, Dick Chandlee, Cliff Clark, Jimmie Dodd, David Durand, Ben Erway, Jane Frazee, Arthur Hoyt, Lew Kelly, Milton Kibbee, Joe King, Paul McVey, Robert Paige, Robert Spencer, Minerva Urecal, Dorothy Vaughan
story by Edward Handler, Robert Gordon, screenplay by Brenda Weisberg, music by Hans J. Salter, Frank Skinner

Dead End Kids, later East Side Kids, then Bowery Boys, Little Tough Guys

review by
Mike Haberfelner

In normal years, Tommy (Bobby Jordan), Pig (Huntz Hall), String (Gabriel Dell) and Ape (Norman Abbott) are up to no good over the summer holidays, but this year, as the war is going on overseas, Tommy has decided to pay tribute to the fighting men abroad, do the responisble thing and get a job, and he convinces his friends to do the same. After many failed attempts, Tommy actually finds a job at the department store his sister Sheila (Evelyn Ankers) works at, thanks to her boyfriend and colleague Jerry (Don Porter), and somehow he manages for his friends to get jobs at the store as well. And after several rather expected hijinks, Tommy proves to be a good worker. Thing is, Tommy's boss Moulton (Frank Albertson) is secretly working for gangster Duke Redman (Milburn Stone), and he tells Redman that Tommy would be a good asset for the gang. So Duke sends out sexy singer Lola Laverne (Joan Marsh) to work her charms on Tommy and pretty much seduce him into the gang - but Tommy turns down a lucrative offer. As a result, Moulton sees to it that some stolen jewelry is found with Tommy, and he's sent to jail, his friends are fired. Sheila quits her job in protest, so Jerry, who'll eventually turn out to be the son of the store owner, bails Tommy out - but at first, Tommy's less than happy that everyone still believes him to be a criminal and acts defiantly towards everyone who even tries to show compassion - until he figures the only way to redeem himself is to prove Moulton and Redman guilty. So he gets the gang together, they spy them out, and when Redman and gang are trying to steal one of the department store's trucks with Moulton's help, Tommy and company strike ...

 

Frankly not a very good film as it seems to be indecisive to the end whether it wants to be a cautionary tale or an irreverent teen comedy - and as a result comedy and drama seem to stand in the way of one another. But taking the drama aspects of the film on their own merits, the picture doesn't get much better since the whole film and especially its message are just too incredibly on-your-nose, there's no subtlety involved here, no nuances, everything's just as-is. The same goes also for the direction though which is rather on the bloodless side. And unfortunately, Bobby Jordan doesn't make too good a lead here, and in their scenes together, he's almost routinely upstaged by Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell and Norman Abbott. Now from a nostalgia point of view, this film might still be some fun, but not necessarily for all the right reasons.

 

By the way, last of Universal's Little Tough Guys-series, itself spun off from and later merged with the Dead End Kids-series (that had its home at many studios), and ultimately many members of both teams found their place in Monogram's East Side Kids.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Vimeo

 

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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