Damon Runyon’s Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952) – reviewed by George

This movie is apparently generally known as simply “Bloodhounds of Broadway”, but I always try to get most of my information from the movie itself, and the title on the screen is “Damon Runyon’s Bloodhounds of Broadway”. So, hah.
The music behind the credits is very reminiscent of “Guys and Dolls”, which had premiered on Broadway in 1950, and you get some sense of what’s coming. The cast mostly consists of Damon-Runyon-gangsters, and the people around them.
Robert “Numbers” Foster (Scott Brady) is a nightclub owner with ties to the mob, but he is, in the overall scheme of illegal betting, a small catch. He’s a bookie with rare mathematical powers, and he can figure odds and such in his head. His right-hand man is Harry “Poorly” Sammis (Wally Vernon). When they hear that New York State is starting up a new investigation they know they will be pulled in first, because the rationale is always to get the smaller fish to rat out the big guys, so they leave town, leaving behind Numbers’s girlfriend, the beautiful chanteuse who sings at his club, Yvonne Dugan (Marguerite Chapman), and Poorly’s wife, 52nd Street Tessie (Mitzi Green).
If only Numbers realized that NYC Inspector McNamara (Michael O’Shea) is working hard to get Numbers’s penalty reduced to only one year, if he will only tell what he knows about the organization.
Anyway, our two heroes go to Florida until the heat is off, then get lost on the way back and end up in Georgia. Here they meet Emily Ann Stackerlee (Mitzi Gaynor), who saves them from some rifle-toting hillbillies, so they take her back with them to keep her from getting killed by the boys, and Numbers has her trained in dancing and singing by one of his hoods, Curtaintime Charlie (Richard Allan) so she can entertain in his nightclub. Guess how happy that makes Yvonne.
Now, the title of the movie comes from the fact that Emily Ann has two actual bloodhounds, Nip and Tuck, that she takes to New York with her. Before I saw the picture I thought the bloodhounds would be detectives.
Some of Numbers’s other employees with typical Runyon names are Ropes McGonigle (George E. Stone), Lookout Louie (Edwin Max), Dave the Dude (Henry Slate), and Phil Green or Pittsburg Phil-o (an uncredited Charles Bronson)
The musical numbers are pretty good, all are entertaining but not especially memorable. One song stands out though, and that is Yvonne’s solo before Numbers and Poorly leave town. But there is one number near the beginning that is a super-standout, where Emily Ann dances with a six-year-old, Little Elida. This kid is absolutely sensational. If ever in my life I had had that much energy, I coulda been a contendah. She is uncredited, but there is a special feature called “Dancing as Fast as She Can: Sharon Baird”. So yes, it is Sharon from “The Mickey Mouse Club”! Whether the film sounds interesting to you or not, you should definitely rent it just to see Sharon and Mitzi dance together.
And Nip and Tuck get to do their bloodhound-tracking schtick as well, so there is a reason for bloodhounds in the movie.
NOTE: A special feature, all in writing, details the restoration process for this movie. and in listing the things eliminated, like blips and scratches, they also list Cue Marks. Great gobs! I had completely forgotten Cue Marks! In the days before digital projection, not really that long ago, movies arrived at the theater in boxes containing the reels of film. I’m not sure, but I think a reel is usually about 30 minutes long. Obviously one movie could require three or four reels, so two projectors were required. Since the projectionist could not very well be expected to sit there and watch the movie up to 7 times a day, there were cue marks printed on the film, in the right upper corner of the screen, where the audience was basically unaware of them. The first one told the projectionist to get ready, and the second meant switch projectors NOW. Theater history that has nothing to do with the movie itself!

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