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THE BLOODHOUNDS OF BROADWAY
1989

poster

Film

Director:

Howard Brookner

Language:
English

Running Time: 88'

Main Cast:
Rutger Hauer - The Brain
Josef Sommer - Waldo Winchester
Madonna - Hortense Hathaway
Tony Azito - Waiter
Jennifer Grey - Lovey Lou
Tony Longo - Crunch Sweeney
Matt Dillon - Regret
Stephen McHattie - Red Henry
Anita Morris - Miss Missouri Martin
Ethan Phillips - Basil Valentine
Alan Ruck - John Wangle
Dinah Manoff - Maud Milligan
David Youse - Busboy
Randy Quaid - Feet Samuels
Julie Hagerty - Harriet MacKyle
Esai Morales - Handsome Jack
Gerry Bamman - Police Inspector McNamara
John Rothman - Marvin Clay

Screenplay:
Howard Brookner and Colman deKay from short stories by Demon Runyon

Plot:
It's New Year's Eve 1928, and Broadway's colorful characters are celebrating the coming year in grand style with clandestine crap games, bootleg hooch, femmes fatales and raucous parties in deco palaces. Romance and intrigue mark the final hours preceding the dawn as the citizens of the Great White Way enjoy the last big blowout of the jazz era.

Rich society dame Harriet MacKyle is throwing a holiday soiree the likes of which not even Broadway has ever seen. Not only are the posh friends of the socialite going to attend, but also, as MacKyle is so quick to point out, a medley of "marvellous types with splendid nicknames".

All the regulars from Broadway's most popular restaurant, Mindy's, are also expected, including Feet Samuels, an honorable and therefore perpetually broke gentleman named after his prodigious feet. This may well turn out to be his best but last night, for Samuels has recently become well-heeled from the sale of his feet to science -- a transaction which unfortunately must be executed first thing in the morning. Samuels has put his life, and his feet, on the line for one reason: the beautiful showgirl, Hortense Hathaway. However Hathaway dreams of more important things than the jeweled trinkets that Samuels believes she desires.

Also attending the party is Broadway's lousiest pony player, Regret, named for the first and only horse he ever won on. Regret's luck with love rivals his luck with the ponies. That's because his girl -- the angel-faced showstopper, Lovey Lou -- is sure that Regret would rather take up with horses and other women than with her.

The overconfident but handsome bootlegger, Handsome Jack, is providing the night's booze, but he is having more than his usual share of trouble with tonight's hostess. Even his mild-mannered sidekick, Basil Valentine, is gearing up to give Handsome Jack an unwelcome surprise.

Of course, newspaper scribe and gossip Waldo Winchester plans to attend -- pen in hand -- taking note of each sordid detail of the night's events. An appearance is also planned by the savvy Miss Missouri "Mizzoo" Martin, who has her own celebration set for later in the evening at her speakeasy, the 300 Club.

Sadly, Broadway's most powerful and well-dressed gambling operator, The Brain, has his plans to attend cut short by an unfortunate encounter with a knife-wielding hood bringing an unfriendly holiday message from the Brooklyn competition.

Police inspector McNamara is spending the night hunting down the villain who left doll-chasing swell Marvin Clay belly-up on his apartment floor with a very suspicious-looking hole in his chest. With the aid of two half-starved, man-tracking Georgia bloodhounds, McNamara will pursue the culprit throughout the night and the whole of Broadway.

By sunrise 1929, both he and all the citizens of the Great White Way will discover that things are no longer what they appeared to be. During the last few hours before sunrise, fortunes are lost and gained, infidelties are revealed, jealousies erupt, crimes are committed and romance blooms.

Notes:
Rutger portrays the powerful and impeccably dressed gambling operator "The Brain".

Howard Brookner died just after the shooting, three days before his 35th birthday. "The Bloodhounds of Broadway" was his feature film debut as a producer/director. He also co-wrote the script with associate producer Colman deKay.

"Bloodhounds of Broadway" amalgamates four of Damon Runyon's short stories - "The Bloodhounds of Broadway", "A Very Honorable Guy", "Social Error" and "The Brain Goes Home". The author's real-life experiences with the Broadway populace served as the inspiration for his "Broadway" short stories, which were written between 1929 and 1945.

To further perpetuate the feeling of the period, the filmmakers turned to New York choreographer Diane Martel, who worked on the five dance numbers, and Roma Baran, who supervised the music, which included such songs as Duke Ellington's "The Mooch", performed by Madonna; Cab Calloway's "The Man From Broadway" (which was originally known as "The Man From Harlem"), performed by Anita Morris; "I Surrender, Dear", performed by Madonna and Jennifer Grey, and the singing waiter number "Big Bucks".

Damon Runyon (1884-1946) is known as a legendary reporter who gained fame with his tales of the gambling, racing and criminal world. Among Runyon's best-known works is "Guys and Dolls" (1932), written in the regional slang. Runyon's style was based on Broadway slang, outrageous metaphors, and the constant use of the present tense. Runyon was born in Manhattan, Kansas, but grew up in Pueblo, Colorado.

At an early age Runyon had followed his father into the newspaper business. He worked for the Pueblo "Evening Press", and gained the status of a full-fledged news reporter. When a typographical slip rendered his name 'Runyon' he decided to keep it that way. He enlisted in 1898 for the Spanish-American war and was sent to the Philippines, where he wrote for army papers. After leaving the army he worked as a journalist in small dailies. In 1908 he became a director of the Denver Press Club and published verses and short stories in such national forums as "McClure's" and "Harper's Weekly". His first book, "The Tents of Trouble", a collection of poems, appeared in 1911. He also served as a Hearst foreign correspondent in Mexico in 1912 and 1916 and in Europe during World War I. In the 1920s Runyon's had developed his recognizable personal style, narrating in the 'historical present', which was his stylistic peculiarity. He was especially adept at describing small details and angles that other reporters did not come to think. Runyon's underworld stories became very popular and his feature 'As I See It' was syndicated in the Hearst newspapers across the country. Runyon had at best a daily readership of over ten millions, and he was called America's premier journalist. In 1932 Runyon's collection "Guys and Dolls" gained commercial success.

The archetype of tough, cynical reporter, who mingled with gangster and show people, become part of Runyon's public image. His characters, Lemon Drop Kid, Dave the Dude, Harry the Horse, Dream Street Rose, Izzy Cheesecake reflected the colorful side of the city life. Runyon's fiction was natural for the big screen: sixteen stories and one play were turned into movies, including "Little Miss Marker", starring Shirley Temple. In the early 1940s he also worked in Hollywood as a writer and producer. In 1938 Runyon developed throat cancer and in 1944 an operation left him unable to speak. He died two years later on December 10, 1946. Runyon's ashes were scattered out of a plane over Broadway, by the First World War air ace Eddie Rickenbacker.

Runyon in 1905

Set Shots:


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