The Bowery (1933)

90 or 92 mins | Comedy-drama | 13 October 1933

Director:

Raoul Walsh

Cinematographer:

Barney McGill

Editor:

Allen McNeil

Production Designer:

Richard Day

Production Company:

20th Century Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Screenwriter Howard Estabrook's name is incorrectly spelled "Esterbrook" in the onscreen credits. This was the first film produced by Twentieth Century Pictures, which Time called "the first important new producing company formed in Hollywood in four years." The company, which in 1935 merged with Fox to form Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., was established in late Apr 1933 by Darryl Zanuck, who became vice-president in charge of production, and Joseph Schenck, who became president. Zanuck, who had been in charge of production at Warner Bros., resigned from that company effective 15 Apr 1933, according to news items, following a dispute concerning the studio's refusal to back up his promise to employees to restore their salaries to their full amount following a fifty percent cut due to the industry's financial crisis. The announcement to the press of the formation of the company stated that they would produce stories of the "modern headline type." HR wrote that this film marked "probably the most auspicious start any motion picture company ever received." According to news items, the film broke attendance records in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
       According to material in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the unpublished novel was originally submitted to Zanuck at Warner Bros. in 1932. At that time, Zanuck's associates did not think the material would be worth producing. Raymond Griffith, who subsequently was an associate producer of the film, commented in an inter-office memo to Zanuck, "This is the life story of Chuck Connors. Why it was written I don't know because he was of no importance. He was ... More Less

Screenwriter Howard Estabrook's name is incorrectly spelled "Esterbrook" in the onscreen credits. This was the first film produced by Twentieth Century Pictures, which Time called "the first important new producing company formed in Hollywood in four years." The company, which in 1935 merged with Fox to form Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., was established in late Apr 1933 by Darryl Zanuck, who became vice-president in charge of production, and Joseph Schenck, who became president. Zanuck, who had been in charge of production at Warner Bros., resigned from that company effective 15 Apr 1933, according to news items, following a dispute concerning the studio's refusal to back up his promise to employees to restore their salaries to their full amount following a fifty percent cut due to the industry's financial crisis. The announcement to the press of the formation of the company stated that they would produce stories of the "modern headline type." HR wrote that this film marked "probably the most auspicious start any motion picture company ever received." According to news items, the film broke attendance records in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
       According to material in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the unpublished novel was originally submitted to Zanuck at Warner Bros. in 1932. At that time, Zanuck's associates did not think the material would be worth producing. Raymond Griffith, who subsequently was an associate producer of the film, commented in an inter-office memo to Zanuck, "This is the life story of Chuck Connors. Why it was written I don't know because he was of no importance. He was merely an illiterate fool that wore a ridiculous costume and was a guide through Chinatown. He was connected with nothing of importance in his period; he wasn't even an important hoodlum of the day. I do not see anything of consequence in this at all." Lucien Hubbard, a producer at Warner Bros., commented, "Considered as a story, this is pretty bad....I consider this offers nothing but the chance to write an original story about a character." Production executive Hal B. Wallis noted, "It would be a very expensive picture to make." According to information in the Produced Scripts Collection, "Swipes" was really not as young as he is in the film; the suspicion that Steve Brody used a dummy to fake the jump off the bridge was a legend on the Bowery; Brody owned a bar in which hung a painting of his jump, as in the film; and Chuck Connors never did own a saloon.
       According to news items, Paramount was going to withdraw Raft, whom they loaned for the film, because of a conflict in schedule. M-G-M then loaned Clark Gable for the role of Brody, but Raft eventually acted the role. LAT noted, "It is reported that a dicker is on for Clara Bow to play [the role of Carmencita]," a dancer, whom LAT noted was one of the first personalities ever to be seen in a motion picture. That role either was changed in the final film or removed completely. According to material in the Produced Scripts Collection, some scenes were shot at the pier at Playa del Rey, CA. According to news items, in Oct 1933, Chuck Connors, Jr. filed a libel suit to have the film's exhibition stopped because of the portrayal of Connors. Subsequently, a HR news item reported that Connors, Jr. "most likely is not the son of Chuck Connors," and that the judge in the case encouraged the defendant to bring charges of perjury against him. In Nov 1933, Mrs. Elizabeth Clark, really a daughter of Connors, intimated that she would file suit. No further information about her court action has been located. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Sep 33
p. 3.
Film Daily
15 Apr 33
p. 1.
Film Daily
28 Apr 33
p. 1, 6
Film Daily
19 Jun 33
p. 2.
Film Daily
7 Oct 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 33
p. 1, 3
Hollywood Reporter
6-Oct-33
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
19-Oct-33
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 33
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 33
p. 4.
Illustrated Daily News
19-Oct-33
---
International Photographer
1 Aug 33
p. 34.
Los Angeles Times
8-Jun-33
---
Los Angeles Times
11-Oct-33
---
Motion Picture Daily
26 Sep 33
p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily
28 Sep 33
p. 2, 6
Motion Picture Herald
5 Aug 33
p. 36.
Motion Picture Herald
7 Oct 33
p. 35.
New York Times
5 Oct 33
p. 24.
Time
9 Oct 33
p. 32.
Variety
10 Oct 33
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Darryl F. Zanuck Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
2d cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Cutter
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Asst sd
Asst sd
DANCE
Dances staged by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Chief elec
Chief grip
Props
Asst props
Still photog
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the unpublished novel Chuck Connors by Michael L. Simmons and Bessie Roth Solomon.
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 October 1933
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 4 October 1933
Production Date:
10 July--9 August 1933
Copyright Claimant:
20th Century Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 October 1933
Copyright Number:
LP4338
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90 or 92
Length(in feet):
8,526
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In the Gay Nineties, on New York's Bowery, known as the "livest mile on the face of the globe," Chuck Connors, the owner of a saloon which boasts the "largest schooner of beer," finds that his rival, Steve Brody, has thrown a mushmelon at his window. After the happy-go-lucky Steve explains that he threw the melon on a dare, Chuck is about to fight him when they learn of a fire in Chinatown. Both men call upon their volunteer fire brigades, and they wager $100 on which will be the first to throw water on the fire. Although Steve gets there first, he finds Chuck's young pal, Swipes McGurk, sitting on a barrel over the fire hydrant so that Chuck's brigade can use it first. The rival fire fighters get into a tremendous fight and soon lie scattered in the street and gutters as the fire reduces the building to a smoldering ruin. Steve vows to get even, but when two hoodlums, Slick and Googy from Jersey City, offer to kill Chuck for $500, Steve fights them. When Chuck becomes the manager of heavyweight prizefighter Bloody Butch, Steve bets Chuck $500 that his own fighter, whom he calls "The Masked Marvel," can beat him. After the "Marvel" knocks out Bloody Butch with one punch, he is revealed to be boxing legend John L. Sullivan. When Chuck sees a naïve girl, Lucy Calhoun, about to accept a proposition from Slick and Googy, he warns them not to "hawk" girls in his place. Lucy thanks Chuck and explains that she is homeless and looking for work. Chuck takes her to his apartment, where he lives ... +


In the Gay Nineties, on New York's Bowery, known as the "livest mile on the face of the globe," Chuck Connors, the owner of a saloon which boasts the "largest schooner of beer," finds that his rival, Steve Brody, has thrown a mushmelon at his window. After the happy-go-lucky Steve explains that he threw the melon on a dare, Chuck is about to fight him when they learn of a fire in Chinatown. Both men call upon their volunteer fire brigades, and they wager $100 on which will be the first to throw water on the fire. Although Steve gets there first, he finds Chuck's young pal, Swipes McGurk, sitting on a barrel over the fire hydrant so that Chuck's brigade can use it first. The rival fire fighters get into a tremendous fight and soon lie scattered in the street and gutters as the fire reduces the building to a smoldering ruin. Steve vows to get even, but when two hoodlums, Slick and Googy from Jersey City, offer to kill Chuck for $500, Steve fights them. When Chuck becomes the manager of heavyweight prizefighter Bloody Butch, Steve bets Chuck $500 that his own fighter, whom he calls "The Masked Marvel," can beat him. After the "Marvel" knocks out Bloody Butch with one punch, he is revealed to be boxing legend John L. Sullivan. When Chuck sees a naïve girl, Lucy Calhoun, about to accept a proposition from Slick and Googy, he warns them not to "hawk" girls in his place. Lucy thanks Chuck and explains that she is homeless and looking for work. Chuck takes her to his apartment, where he lives with Swipes, and lets her sleep there. In the morning, he is pleasantly surprised, while Swipes is annoyed, to find that Lucy has cleaned up the place and cooked breakfast. Later, Chuck finds that Swipes has locked Lucy in a closet and spanks him. Humiliated before Lucy, Swipes packs and leaves. That night, Steve invites Swipes to move in with him. Steve then tries to make love with Lucy, thinking she is Chuck's mistress. She bites his hand, drawing blood, and after he apologizes, he asks if he can call on her. They soon fall in love, and Steve reveals his ambition to run a saloon bigger than Chuck's. When two brewers offer to back him if he can bring his name into prominence, Steve decides to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge as a stunt. After Chuck bets his saloon against a free burial that Steve won't make it alive, Steve gets a life-sized dummy made up to look like him and arranges for Swipes to throw it off the bridge at the time of the jump. As an estimated crowd of 100,000 gathers at the bridge, Swipes finds the dummy missing. Despite Swipes's pleas, Steve vows to make the jump anyway, so that no one can say he didn't take a dare. Meanwhile, Chuck tries to calm down Carrie Nation and her band of women, who have come to tear down his saloon with axes and hatchets. When he sees Steve lifted in a parade after making the jump, however, Chuck encourages the reformers to destroy the saloon, which they do. Steve soon opens the saloon again, and when war is declared against Spain, Chuck enlists to get away from the Bowery, where he is no longer a big shot. When he returns to his apartment to pack, he finds that Swipes has moved back. After Slick and Googy tell Chuck that Steve did not jump from the bridge and show him the dummy, Chuck demands his saloon back. Steve denies using the dummy, and they have a long fight on a barge in the river to settle their differences. After Chuck returns victorious, he is arrested for assault and battery with intent to kill. Steve, however, refuses to implicate him. In Steve's hospital room, he and Chuck begin another fight, but Swipes stops them and urges them to become friends. After they shake hands, Chuck dares Steve to join him in Cuba. At a parade for departing soldiers, Chuck tells Lucy to kiss Steve goodbye, and after she does, she also kisses Chuck. The men lament not being able to say goodbye to Swipes, but they soon see, to their delight, that he is hiding in an artillery box on the supply wagon just ahead of them. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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