Bowery at Midnight (1942) reviews and overview

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[Total: 5   Average: 2.2/5]

Bowery at Midnight is a 1942 American crime/horror thriller feature film about seemingly kindly soup kitchen operator and professor of criminology Karl Wagner (Bela Lugosi) who uses his soup kitchen as a front for a criminal gang who commit a series of daring robberies and murders. When things get out of hand, Wagner kills his henchmen, who wind up as zombies in the cellar of the soup kitchen…

Directed by Wallace Fox (Pillow of Death; The Corpse Vanishes) from a screenplay written by Gerald Schnitzer (A Scream in the Dark; The Corpse Vanishes), the Banner production stars Bela Lugosi, John Archer (I Saw What You Did; She Devil; King of the Zombies), Wanda McKay (Voodoo Man; The Monster Maker; The Mad Doctor) and Tom Neal (The Brute Man). The movie was produced by Jack Dietz and Sam Katzman.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Its ambitions are modest but always within the abilities of its cast and crew, and the dual role of Wagner and Brenner is one that Lugosi could do in his sleep. The story also has that appealing mix of down and dirty thriller mixed with outlandish horror to give it a certain uniqueness that helps it to overcome the limitations of the script.” 20/20 Movie Reviews

“The cast handles its cheesy chores in typical fashion, with the exception of Lugosi, who manages to rise above the material, even while playing down to its baser instincts. He makes even the most ludicrous moments enjoyable, and frequently fascinating. Again, Bowery is not anything like a good movie — but it’s much more entertaining than other films that are technically much better.” All Movie

“Gerald Schnitzer’s chiller story is tolerable if derivative and predictable. But the eerie and intriguing film is worth a look for its weird tone and Lugosi’s lively performance.” Derek Winnert

“Simply stated, Bowery at Midnight is one of the best of the poverty row pics made by Monogram studios with Bela Lugosi in the forties. Really more of a crime story with an occasional dash of horror as an added condiment, this is a tasty 62 minutes of absurd fun done on the cheap.” DVD Drive-In

“Yes, I know there are many problems. Cardboard sets, horror elements shoehorned into what is largely a crime picture and an awful handsome hero in Richard Dennison (John Archer) who doesn’t even have a real part in the movie until about halfway through. Still, it is lots of fun.” Expelled Grey Matter

“There is at least one very fantastic aspect of the movie which involves the experiments that the doctor whom Lugosi keeps in the basement performs on the dead bodies of the victims; however, to reveal that would give away far too much. The movie is a little dull now and then, but overall it is a pleasant surprise.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

Bowery at Midnight fails to live up to a lot of things even its own title, as most of the movie is set at daytime. It’s not awful though, and I still recommend it if you’re a fan of its illustrious lead. It’s mostly inoffensive…” Not This Time, Nayland Smith

“The underpinnings of this chintzy scrapper are super cynical. Lugosi is fun to watch per usual, and the supporting cast is full of familiar faces for cult movie buffs (Tom Neal from Detour, Dave O’Brien from Reefer Madness).” Teenage Frankenstein

“It’s true that Bowery might be accused of attempting the plot mechanics of an overworked Russian novel, but what this Monogram cheapie bites off, it spits out in a simplified, unsentimental fashion. Lugosi is wonderful as both the scholarly Brenner and his alter ego Wagner…” The Terror Trap

Choice dialogue:

Stratton: “Doctor, my eye. I wouldn’t let you treat a good case of dandruff.”

Karl Wagner: “Yes, each day brings its little surprises.”

Cast and characters:

  • Bela Lugosi … Professor Brenner aka Karl Wagner
  • John Archer … Richard Dennison
  • Wanda McKay … Judy Malvern
  • Tom Neal … Frankie Mills
  • Vince Barnett … Charley
  • Anna Hope … Mrs Brenner
  • John Berkes … Fingers Dolan
  • J. Farrell MacDonald … Captain Mitchell
  • Dave O’Brien … Pete Crawford
  • Lucille Vance … Mrs Malvern
  • Lew Kelly … Doc Brooks
  • Wheeler Oakman … Stratton
  • Ray Miller … Big Man
  • Victor Adamson … Tramp (uncredited)
  • Willy Castello … Jeweller (uncredited)
  • Pat Costello … Tramp Questioned by Richard (uncredited)
  • George Eldredge … Detective Thompson (uncredited)
  • Bernard Gorcey … Shopkeeper (uncredited)
  • Eddie Hall … Tramp Playing Checkers at Friendly Mission (uncredited)
  • Eddie Kane … Police Chief Martin (uncredited)
  • Jack Kenney … Usher (uncredited)
  • Ralph Littlefield … Big Man’s Friend (uncredited)
  • Theodore Lorch … Tramp Playing Checkers at Friendly Mission (uncredited)
  • Walter McGrail … Coroner (uncredited)
  • ‘Snub’ Pollard … Motorist (uncredited)
  • Bob Reeves … Henchman (uncredited)
  • Bobby Stone … Newsboy (uncredited)

Technical details:

  • 61 minutes
  • Black and white
  • Aspect ratio: 1.37: 1
  • Audio: Mono

Working title:

Burial at Midnight

  

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