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Films: B is for...

Bloodhounds of Broadway

This comic mish-mash of various Damon Runyan ’20s underworld stories was a fair-to-middling comedy hit in the ’50s, but this remake fell pray to the ’80s tendency to camp up anything notionally set before the Beatles’ first LP into a gauche, garish cross between the opening scene of Absolute Beginners and the Crunch Bunch Golden Delicious apple ads. And so it proved here. Lashings of speakeasy doorway/violin case/arse-wiggling flappers/hats in the streetlamps cliche shots, reminiscent of that Bananarama video Paul Heiney directed. Rutger Hauer as a criminal mastermind in a pencil tache. Madonna as a showgirl in Janet Ellis bob. Julie ‘Airplane!’ Hagerty in ‘ditzy’ mode, with a comedy parrot that gets shot in an hilarious mess of feathers. Nothing intrinsically wrong with any of that, but what a mess this PBS-headed special turned into – so much so that, according to legend, it was first shown across the nation with an entire reel missing… and no-one noticed.

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