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  • "May the best gladiator submerge victorious!"

    A solid Bowery Boys entry, directed by Reginald LeBorg. The gang try to stop a crooked fight-fixing racket with the aid of a boxer whose brother met with tragedy in the ring. Many of these comedies utilized drama to help them along, especially back when the boys were called The Eastside Kids. This one's an interesting blend of comedy and drama with some funny dialogue and some unconventionally serious acting (for this period) from Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcey.

    Recommended for BB newbies.

    *** out of ****
  • Frankie Darro, a child actor who reached screen prominence a few years before the Dead End Kids playing their kind of roles, joins with the Bowery Boys in this more serious entry in the Bowery Boys series.

    The guys go into the fight managing business, especially after the middle brother of three Higgins brothers gets killed in the ring. Eldest brother Darro who was a former top ranked contender decides to make a comeback in the ring with Leo Gorcey as his manager.

    The champion is managed by a crook played by Lyle Talbot who is not too squeamish about what tactics he uses to win a bout. But he can't seem to hire good help which is why the Bowery Boys outwit him in the end.

    Huntz Hall gets a chance to shine in this one. The gullible and guileless Satch actually gets a chance to outwit two of Talbot's henchmen. Now can you imagine Satch outwitting anybody? What does that say about the help Talbot was hiring? You have to see the film to find out how Satch does it.

    This is definitely one of the best Bowery Boys films, fans of the eternal slum kids should love it.
  • Fighting Fools (1949)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    Decent entry in the Bowery Boys series has former boxer Johnny Higgins (Frankie Darro) trying to make a comeback after his kid brother was killed in the ring. Along with the help of Slip (Leo Gorcey) and Sach (Huntz Hall), Higgins tries to shine the spotlight on a criminal (Lyle Talbot) who is fixing matches. The thirteenth film in the series isn't a great one but it's mildly entertaining and features some nice drama and a couple good laughs. Once again I think the film benefits greatly from director Le Borg as he makes for a lot better pacing and gives the film an overall better look. This is still a low-budget movie but Le Borg at least makes it seem like they spent more money on it. The film has a good pace from start to finish and the director also manages to make for some good dramatics. This includes the early boxing scene where the kid guys and Slip must deliver the news to his mother. Even better is the final fight, which contains a lot of great drama as we get a side plot with the boxer's other brother being held captive by the gangsters. Gorcey is his typical self here as he shouts out one mangled word after another. Hall doesn't come off quite as good here as some of his humor happens at times where laughs weren't needed. Gabriel Dell pretty much gets overlooked this time out as he stays in the background as a sports writer. Former child star Darro delivers a fine performance as he's quite believable as the boxer trying to make a comeback. His early scenes as a drunk didn't work too well but I think enjoyed watching him here and thought he added a great deal of entertainment. Talbot can play a bad guy like no other and even though the performance isn't Oscar worthy he's at least fun to watch. The biggest problem is that the laughs really aren't that good here. Sure, we get a few funny moments but not enough to carry the film. Another problem is that we've seen the corrupt boxing stuff countless times before and nothing new is added here. With that said, this is a decent entry for fans of the series.
  • Thirteenth movie in Monogram's Bowery Boys series is another one with boxing as part of the plot. The last one was Mr. Hex, which saw Sach hypnotized into becoming a great prizefighter. This time none of the Boys enter the ring, but rather they help out a friend whose brother was killed in the boxing ring in a fight rigged up by racketeers. The friend is played by Frankie Darro, who returns for the second Bowery Boys movie in a row (playing a different character). The Boys help Darro train to fight and get vengeance for his brother. The regular cast is enjoyable in this entry that's a little heavier than the typical film in this series. Gabriel Dell plays a reporter in one of his more likable Bowery Boys appearances. Lyle Talbot is the gangster villain and he's solid as usual. Bernard Gorcey is fun as Louie ("Long live Louie's Sweet Shop!"). But this one really belongs to Frankie Darro, who turns in one of his better performances since his 1930s classics like "Wild Boys of the Road" and "The Mayor of Hell." The dramatics here work well but I will admit to being disappointed that there wasn't more comedy. I watch the Bowery Boys for laughs, after all. Also, the boxing backdrop is pretty played out even by 1949 standards. Still, I can't imagine many fans of the series hating this one.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    IT WAS REALLY interesting to us what the movie info blurb on the cable service. It read in part, "NOTHING NEW." Well, we take exception to this phrase's being applied here. After all, dealing with a death of a boxer in the ring being the central theme is a most unusual, pathos filled and serious of any a film; let alone being an entry into our favourite BOWERY BOYS series.

    ADDITIONALLY, THAT SERIOUS element tweaked the emotional content ever so slightly into the category of a minor dramatic story; at least as far as the first half of the movie is concerned. This in turn enabled us to see some of the heretofore unappreciated dramatic talents of the "Boys."

    IN PARTICULAR, THIS put the spotlight on both Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall. Rather than having "Slip" spouting malaprop while smacking the child-like and eternally mugging of "Sach"; we see the two being dead serious and even moving. (While they relate the death of boxer Johnny Higgins' (guest star Frankie Darro) little brother in the prize ring.

    ONE CHARACTERISTIC THAT this Bowery Boy entry has is a definite connection to the past. If not a total throwback,. it may at least be a reminder of from where the series sprung. It brings recollections of DEAD END (on stage & screen), the Dead End Kids. Little Tough Guys and the East Side Kids; all giving ancestry and characteristics to the breed.

    BUT THE FINAL observation about FIGHTING FOOLS (Monogram, 1949) is concerning its story & screenplay. It seems to be much like the sort of story that we saw done over at Warner Brothers in the early 1930's. That would be the sort of "B" movie Pot Boiler done before that studio really hit its stride.

    AND IT WOULD most likely star Cagney, Pat O'Brien and Mae Clarke. (Schultz says that Frankie Darro would surely have a part in it as somebody's little brother).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I never get tired of catching a Bowery Boys flick but film makers of the era did carry the boxing themed pictures to the limit. Counting their 1939 film when they were still the Dead End Kids in "They Made Me a Criminal", I've seen at least three other East Side Kids boxing pictures, all with Leo Gorcey as his character Muggs McGinnis doing the fighting - 1940's "Pride of the Bowery", 1941's "Bowery Blitzkrieg" and 1943's "Kid Dynamite". This time out, the Bowery Boys get behind Frankie Darro's character, a former fighter fallen on hard times after he refused to throw a bout. The story is made even more somber with the death of Johnny Higgins' (Darro) younger brother, the result of a ring casualty which makes it even rougher for his family when he decides to give it a go once more.

    Frankie Darro was no stranger to boxing themed pictures either. However with the passage of a decade since his films "Born to Fight" (1936) and "Devil Diamond" (1937), Darro managed to get better coordinated in the ring so his fighting scenes here looked a bit more realistic. In the pictures mentioned, he looked off balance, taking wild swings and in the case of the earlier movie, had this weird looking hop whenever he threw a punch. In short, he didn't even look like he belonged in a ring.

    Besides Gorcey and Darro, Huntz Hall gets in some decent screen time as Johnny's younger brother Boomer is kidnapped by henchmen of boxing manager Blinky Harris (Lyle Talbot), who's maneuvering a build up for Johnny so he can have him take a fall in a match for the Light Heavyweight Championship. I don't know how he pulled it off, but Sach (Hall) got the better of the two thugs who were supposed to be guarding Boomer. I guess if this picture were in color, you'd know why the Bowery Boys' colors were black and blue.

    The film does have it's light spots as fans of the Bowery Boys are accustomed to, but you have to get past the early going when Slip (Mahoney) and Sach have to deliver the bad news of Jimmy Higgins' death to Mrs. Higgins (Dorothy Vaughan). The speakeasy scene with Frankie Darro on the skids with a no account floozy is also a little hard to take, while the background music tries to fit but falls flat. The picture redeems itself with the final fight scene as Johnny rises to the occasion to beat the champ, though it's done more in the spirit of good guys defeating the bad guys than with any realistic appreciation that Johnny could have pulled it off for real.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Long before "Dead End" and "Angels With Dirty Faces", Frankie Darro was a tough kid of the streets in "The Mayor of Hell" and "Wild Boys of the Road", sort of the Leo Gorcey of his day before Leo found that comedy mixed with street smarts could bring humanity into the aging character he was playing. Darro went on to appear in dozens of "B" movies, mostly Monogram programmers with Mantan Moreland at his side, and in the late 40's, he joined up with the Bowery Boys for several films as totally different characters.

    This is one of the best of the series. It's actually a drama that starts off tragically, with Darro's younger brother being killed after a fight and the boys going out to search for him to help out his struggling mother (Dorothy Vaughan) who is taking care of a pre-teen she desperately wants to keep from going into the ring. Darro's past fighting experience left him sour, but thanks to Slip and the gang, he gets back into it, this time with mom's blessing. His talent in the ring takes him close to the championship but the mob wants him to take a dive. With Slip as his manager, this is not going to happen, at least if the gang can help it.

    While there are still some very funny moments (Sach taking the place of the kidnapped younger brother in order to allow Frankie to fight without worry), it is still more intense because of the tragedy which leads to Darro coming home. He is first seen totally drunk in a dive bar, waking up slowly as the reality of his brother's death hits him. That makes this a bit more interesting than the normal poverty row programmers that viewers were used to either before or after the main feature and one which they may have remembered even more when they left the theater. Still, the writers couldn't help but put some silly moments in, particularly poor Louie (Bernard Gorcey) dealing with falling plaster as the boxers practice above his ice cream parlor and the phone call of a dumb lug of a heavyweight calling his mother to tell her he's doing O.K. The mixture of comedy and pathos works well and the result is something different for the oldest street gang ever in America.
  • sol12186 June 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    (Some Spoilers) With Jimmy Higgins taking a merciless beating from his opponent lightweight Joey Price he later fell into a coma in his dressing room and expires before the night was over. With now Jimmy dead and his older brother the former top lightweight contender Johnny Higgins who, after refusing to throw a fight, is now a member of skid row it's up to the Higgin's good friend Slip to get the news to Momma Higgins that her son Jimmy will never come home again.

    Traking down Johnny in his favorite Bowery gin-mill with his floozy girlfriend Bunny Slip & Sach get's him to go to momma and his kid brother Boomer to help the Higgins family out in being its only bread winner. Even though at first Momma is dead set against Johnny returning to the ring she's finally convinced by Slip that's the only work, boxing, that he knows and grudgingly goes along with him.

    Getting into tip top shape by working out in sweet shop owner Louie Dumbrowski's Gym Johnny is now ready to go on his way to became the next lightweight champion of the world and not just the Bowery. With a 12 fight winning streak under his belt Johnny is to be matched against Joey Price, the boxer who killed his brother Jimmy in the ring, with the winner meeting lightweight champ Dynamite Carson for the title. In the fight Price, after Johnny just tapped him, porously throws in the towel by faking he's been knocked out by Johnny with nothing more then a cream puff of a punch to the midsection. This causes Johnny Higgins to be suspected by the boxing commissioner in being part of the obvious boxing fix that caused him to win the match against Price. What really happened was that crooked promoter Blinky Harris had Price throw the fight to make Johnny look bad and keep him from getting his long awaited match with champ Dynamite Carson which he's both sure to win as well as keep Harris from controlling him! That's in Harris getting Johnny to throw fights in the future that he and his goons can bet against him.

    ***SPOILERS*** With Johnny finally getting his chance to fight the champ Harris has Johnny's kid brother Boomer kidnapped in order to get Johnny throw the fight. That's when both Slip & Sach go into action tracking down where Harris is holding Bloomer and rescuing him from his kidnappers. The rest of the movie is history in the good guys always winning in the end as a charged up Johnny who was on the verge of being knocked out got up off the mat after being clobbered, with a hidden piece of steel under his glove, by Carson. In no time at all a battered and bleeding Johnny Higgins put Carson away with a buzz-saw like combination of lefts and rights with Harris and his boys ending up arrested and put behind bars for both kidnapping and fight fixing. As for the Higgins family their now the toast of the town and the Bowery in having a son, Johnny, who's not only the lightweight champ of the world but who overcame a far bigger opponent then he ever faced in the ring: Doubt in his abilities as a boxer in the fear they had long deserted him .
  • "The Bowery Boys" are hanging around the ring again, with chief Leo Gorcey (as Slip Mahoney) passing out boxing programs. Hot dog vendor Huntz Hall (as Sach), ice cream dispenser William "Billy" Benedict (as Whitey), ice cold drink holder David Gorcey (as Chuck), and popcorn salesman Benny "Bennie" Bartlett (as Butch) are also on hand. The plot involves Gorcey and the gang helping semi-regular Frankie Darro (as Johnny Higgins) crawl out of the gutter and back into the boxing ring, after his star brother suffers a terminal knockout.

    With its recycling plot and characters, "Fighting Fools" is comfortable if not special. Mr. Darro does nicely with an uncommon (by this time) amount of story focus and screen time. Director Reginald Le Borg did very well with his short stint guiding the Bowery series; his just released "Trouble Makers" was good, and the forthcoming "Hold That Baby!" would be even better.

    ***** Fighting Fools (3/17/49) Reginald Le Borg ~ Frankie Darro, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Teddy Infuhr
  • I have watched a few Bowry Boys films here or there, but I am hardly someone you would call a fan. For every decent one of their films I've seen, I've probably seen two others that were rather poor. But I do have to give them credit where credit's due, as "Fighting Fools" is actually pretty good. Sure, it has a bunch of boxing clichés but the overall effort is very watchable.

    Slip and the gang are horrified when one of their friends is beaten to death in a boxing match. They promise to try to help the guy's mother and little brother and so they stage a boxing match, on the level, to raise money for them. At the same time, Slip announces that the dead guy's brother, Johnny (Frankie Darro), will come out of retirement and he'll eventually be battling for the title. Considering he never asked Johnny, this IS a rather bold announcement. Eventually, however, he convinces Johnny and Johnny's mother and Slip and the gang manage the fighter. However, a evil jerk and his 'associates' are determined to control the fight industry and are not above cheating to hang on to the ill-gotten title.

    Slip and the gang are exactly what you'd expect in the film...though (fortunately) a bit restrained. The acting aside from them is good and the story, while familiar, is well handled. Entertaining and a nice time-passer.