Thursday, April 13, 2017

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! THE GAS HOUSE KIDS GO WEST starring Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer, Vince Barnett, Bennie Bartlett and Tommy Bond (PRC, 1947)

Can't get enough of the Bowery Boys? Well in that case why dontcha try the Gas House Kids, PRC's cheap-o swipe that not only has that great teen gang (no, make that twentysome guys pretending to be teenagers gang!) film look and feeling, but enough film cheapness to make you miss the glory days of Sunday afternoon and late-night tee-vee viewing back when low budget mooms like this really fit in with your general low budget lifestyles!

It's a good 'un too, where the gang (which includes former LITTLE RASCALS real-life pals Carl Switzer and Tommy Bond), after winning a basketball game against a team who has a revenge-seeking ballet dancer as a ringer, go to California in an unknown-to-them pilfered vehicle and get mixed up with a stolen car ring. The leader of the ring just happens to be engaged to the daughter of the ranch owner where the cars are being hidden, and of course its gonna be a tough case for the Kids to solve before the lass makes the dastardly decision to hitch up with the typically zilch-film Lothario in a role that was custom made for Douglas Fowley! Somehow I get the feeling that a flick like this would have even been too low class for him!

Alfalfa steals the show proving that he was a pretty good comedy actor who shoulda been put to more use in mooms and tee-vee as the years rolled on. I guess his reputation as a trouble maker had really gotten around by this time and given his real life exploits maybe this is why he wasn't working in mooms as much as he did. Tommy Bond plays it more like a doof (somehow I thought he woulda been Leo Gorcey to Switzer's Huntz Hall) and perennial child actor (and one-time Bowery Boy himself) Benny Bartlett ain't too bad either as the Gas House kid who has to uncover the scam while the rest of the gang's out partying with the badskis.

Of special note is Vince Barnett's appearance (he no stranger to the EAST SIDE KIDS/BOWERY BOYS filmography) as the local car dealer handling the stolen booty, he giving a performance with even more comic relief to a moom that already has more'n enough of it. This guy's acting has always been the highlight of many a good filck 'n tee-vee show, and who amongst us can forget his appearances in everything from a variety of Educational Pictures shorts to THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW and GREEN ACRES. Heck, I'm that much of a Vince Barnett fan that I'd even wanna watch his appearances in mainstream Hollywood films like A STAR IS BORN the same way I like to watch GONE WITH THE WIND for George Reeves before flicking to a more exhilarating program. Heck, I wouldn't even mind seeing Barnett in those sleazy drive-in nudie type films he ended his career with like SUMMER SCHOOL TEACHERS...well, at least he didn't appear in any of the nude scenes!

It's films like GAS HOUSE KIDS GO WEST that reaffirm my faith in life, and if you have to see just one low budget low grade funtime film this year, this should be it! And did I mention that it was directed by the infamous William Beaudine, another alumni of the EAST SIDE KIDS/BOWERY BOYS line of fine mooms?

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