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Bloodhounds Of Broadway

Bloodhounds Of Broadway

By Patrick Samuel • December 31st, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
BLOODHOUNDS OF BROADWAY (MOVIE)
Columbia Pictures

Release date: November 3, 1989
Running time: 87 minutes

Director: Howard Brookner
Writers: Howard Brookner, Colman deKay, Randy Quaid
Composer: Jonathan Sheffer

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

Bloodhounds Of Broadway

On New Years Eve there are only two films I really enjoying watching. One of them is the disaster epic, The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and the other is this one, Bloodhounds of Broadway. It’s a charming film based on four Damon Runyon stories and 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. Of her character, she says:

“Although Hortense can be viewed as a gold digger, what she really wants more than money is to be loved for who she is and not because of how she looks, or what she appears to be. She’s very true to herself and falls in love with Samuels because she’s at a point in her life when she realizes true love is something money can’t buy.”

Bloodhounds Of Broadway

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. 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 A Lost Girl (1929) and Pandora’s Box (1929) would launch the career of Louise Brooks whose image is paid homage to here with Madonna’s bobbed haircut.

“I made suggestions about Hortense’s clothes and hair. Since my hair was growing out and changing back to it’s original color, I thought a dark red “Louise Brooks” bobbed style would ‘work well for the’ character and period.”

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 Bloodhounds Of BroadwayI 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.

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 escalate toward the song’s climax, showcasing not only Madonna’s early vocal range but also Jennifer Grey’s. Of the music featured in the film and how she prepared for performing them, Madonna says:

“I listened to tapes of songs from the 20’s to give me a better idea of the way they were performed in those days. Female singers voices sounded tinier then, so in order to keep from sounding too full bodied, I held my voice back a little.”

Other songs that 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. The first time I saw it was in 1991 when it played on Sky Movies during the holiday season. Since then I’ve always enjoyed watching it around this time of year. There’s something very special about it, particularly its setting and knowing what would follow in the year 1929. It’s the same way I look at it now, wondering if we’re all enjoying what’s left of 2012, not knowing what will come in 2013.

Bloodhounds Of Broadway

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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