1928, New Years Eve, Broadway

1928, New Years Eve, Broadway

Static Mass Rating: 4/5

Release date: December 27th 2004
Certificate (UK): PG
Running time: 87 minutes
Year of production: 1988

Director: Howard Brookner

Cast: Madonna, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Grey, Julie Hagerty, Rutger Hauer, Esai Morales, Anita Morris, Randy Quaid

This rather charming 1989 film is based on four Damon Runyon stories and is directed by Howard Brookner who died on April 27th 1989, a few months before the film’s release on November 3rd 1989. It was originally intended as television mini series but ended up being edited as a feature film.

Produced by the American Playhouse, it’s not to be confused with the 1952 release of the same name which is also based on a story by Damon Runyon.

With an impressive all star line-up including Matt Dillon, Jennifer Grey, Julie Hagerty, Rutger Hauer, Randy Quaid and Madonna, Bloodhounds of Broadway contains multiple plots all set around one short period of time; New Years Eve 1928.

Madonna plays Hortense Hathaway, a small town showgirl who is in love with hopeless gambler Feet Samuels (Randy Quaid) who wants to buy her the moon and the stars but she’s keen to show him that she’s not a material girl after all.

Feet however has run himself into debt and finds not the cleverest but the fastest way to settle up his finances; to sell his oversized feet! When he realises Hortense is madly in love with him, he tries to back out of the deal.

Gordon Clifford by Harry Barris, 1931

We played the game
Of stay away
But it cost more
Than I can take

Without you
I can’t make my way
I surrender, dear

Now I must seem proud
I may act gay
But it’s just a pose
I’m not that way

‘Cause deep down
Deep down in my heart
I say, I surrender, dear

Little mean things
We were doing
Must have been
Part of the game

Lending a spice to the wooing
Oh, but I don’t care
Who’s to blame, blame

When stars appear
And shadows fall
Why didn’t you hear
My poor heart call

To you, my love
My life, my all
I surrender, dear

Meanwhile, high society girl Harriet MacKyle (Julie Hagerty) is hosting a party when an accident prone gunman shots her beloved parrot.

Bad boy Regret (Matt Dillon) is having an affair behind his girlfriend Lovey Lou’s (Jennifer Grey) back and is trying to beat a murder rap.

Big time gangster, “The Brain” (Rutger Hauer), is bleeding profusely after being shot and searches high and low for someone willing to donate blood to save his life.

The film comes to life with its all-star cast. The hustle and bustle of the night’s events and champagne toasting to the New Year ahead is somewhat bittersweet. The year ahead is 1929; the year of the stock market crash and the Great Depression.

1929 would also be the year of great breakthroughs in filmmaking over in Germany where Expressionist films such as Diary of Lost Girl and Pandora’s Box would launch the career of Louise Brooks whose image is paid homage to here with Madonna’s bobbed haircut.

One of the songs performed in the film is a duet with Madonna and Jennifer Grey, “I Surrender, Dear”. With lyrics written by Gordon Clifford and music composed by Harry Barris, the song was first performed by Bing Crosby in the film I Surrender Dear (1931) and went on to become Crosby’s first solo hit single when he recorded it with the Gus Arnheim Orchestra, helping him to secure his first radio show contract.

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Since then it has been covered by many artists including Louis Armstrong (1931), Nat King Cole (1952), Ray Charles (1957), Aretha Franklin (1962) and Ella Fitzgerald (1972).

Here it is covered beautifully, although it’s very short, it’s very sweet. Their voices raise higher and higher toward the song’s climax, showcasing not only Madonna’s early vocal range but also Grey’s.

Other songs which can be heard in the film include “Big Bucks” (1934) written by Horace Henderson & Lorraine Feather which Madonna does backing vocals on and “The Mooche” (1928) written by Duke Ellington & Irving Mills that Madonna does an Egyptian style striptease too.

Bloodhounds Of Broadway had a limited theatrical run in America and was released direct-to-video in UK. It’s been available on DVD for a while but is unlikely to receive a Blu-ray release any time in the future, but it would great to see the full uncut version with complete songs and original arrangements.

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  1. Nice discovery! Thank you, I do not know at all

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