Bowery Rhapsody

Bowery Rhapsody: the Rise and Redemption of Hollywood’s Original ‘Brat Pack’

A group of pugnacious yet talented Broadway actors arrive on the doorsteps of 1930s Hollywood and find themselves thrust into the limelight. Flush with fame but haunted by misfortune, this is the tale behind one of Hollywood’s most unlikely success stories… a tale filled with drama, laughter and ultimately redemption.
This feature length documentary examines the lives of six actors who end up forever type-cast both on-screen and off, caught up in the throes of an unforgiving Hollywood system that took as much as it gave. In a stroke of irony that was dark even by Hollywood standards, their very name, The Dead End Kids said it all. Each with a unique and colorful journey, this film allows us inside their successful, and somewhat tumultuously private lives, poignantly described through their family’s eyes. Closely resembling the triumphs and trials of today’s young actors, this film explores the famous movie team’s fame and fortune, and, for a few fallen angels, the slow decline into alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, illness, bankruptcy, and early death. This film begins in 1937 following their phenomenal success on Broadway in the play Dead End. Film mogul Samuel Goldwyn cast The Dead End Kids to reprise their Broadway roles in the film adaptation of Dead End starring Humphrey Bogart, and Joel McCrea. Thrust onto Goldwyn’s studio lot, the original “Brat Pack” unhesitatingly made Hollywood their own. Their larcenous behavior not limited to scene “stealing,” the overnight stars wreaked havoc on sound stages, throwing fire crackers into dressing rooms, setting fire to sets, flooding the wardrobe department, and playing endless practical jokes on the Hollywood elite. Off-camera they lived the high life, chasing girls, racing cars in broad daylight on Sunset Boulevard, and, consequently serving jail time. It wasn’t all tragedy however. Just as the more dramatic, crime-themed Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys films gave way to the more lighthearted and humorous East Side Kids and Bowery Boys entries, so too did some of the key players enjoy both personal and professional triumphs before the final “fadeout.”
How each of the actors ended up later in life will astonish audiences, as this documentary sets out to reveal the men behind the “boys.” What were they like off-camera? Were they good friends, soldiers, husbands and fathers, or merely an enigma of their own minds? What were the long-term effects of being a child actor in the 1930s? Could they continue to have fulfilling stage and screen careers as solo stars once the venerable Bowery Boys series ended? Within this film, the audience will enjoy a snapshot of the 20th century, including the role The Great Depression and Prohibition played in entertainment, the pop culture connection between the Bowery Boys and The Beatles and baseball legend Jackie Robinson’s lifelong friendship with the “Kids.” Peppered throughout are entertaining, compelling, and informative interviews with family related to The Dead End Kids, along with the foremost Bowery Boy fans including actors, authors and celebrities like Larry King, Joe Mantegna, Scott Baio and more! Many decades after the first Dead End Kids feature, their films still resonate within the hearts of their families and fans, with future generations sure to follow. As with the best of The Dead End Kids, Little Tough Guys, East Side Kids and Bowery Boys films, this documentary presents a message of hope, forgiveness, closure, and redemption… even for a pack of unruly teens from the Lower East Side!
Copyright Handshake Away Productions