Bloodhounds of Broadway
October 6th, 2014
- Movie begins
- Waldo Winchester (Josef Sommer): People ask me why I hang around with gangsters, bootleggers, and killers. I tell 'em, for the laughs.
Todd: Spoilers: there's not gonna be any laughs in this movie.
- Waldo: Who was seen at whose party last night while his wife was out of town? Stick with me, and I'll tell ya.
Todd: Who could possibly give a crap?
- Waldo: ...I'm always asked, what's the most exciting night I've written about. The answer is easy—it was the night...
Todd (VO): This man is about to tell you the most useless, boring story you will ever hear.
Todd: Get out now.
- Cinemadonna intro
- Clip of "Express Yourself"
- Madonna: Come on, girls
- Do you believe in love
Todd (VO): In 1989, Madonna released her Like a Prayer album—the record that turned Madonna from merely ludicrously famous to "beyond the world's capacity to even fathom" famous. And for the next three or four years, she would be utterly inescapable. [Clip of interview] And yet at the same time, her film career became much more decidedly minor, and she would only do supporting roles in ensemble films during that time period. And it doesn't get any more minor than the 1989 obscurity, Bloodhounds of Broadway.
- Back to the movie
Bloodhounds of Broadway is not the worst of Madonna's movies, but it is certainly the least of Madonna's movies—the least watched, the least known, the least successful, the least remembered.
Todd: And also, honestly, maybe it is the worst.
Todd (VO): But you wouldn't think, because this baby has a pretty solid pedigree on paper. First off, it features a whole host of fairly major actors—Matt Dillon, Rutger Hauer, Randy Quaid, uh...Neelix, and Jennifer Grey from Dirty Dancing, who would become [picture of Grey with Madonna] one of Madonna's celebrity BFFs for a while. [covers of original book...] And it's based on the stories of Damon Runyon, [...The Best of Damon Runyon...] a very popular writer from the '20s and '30s who wrote about guys, dolls, [...and Guys and Dolls] sometimes both. You know, gamblers, speakeasies, that kind of thing. Which is why all the characters in this movie have silly gangster names like Feet, the Brain [Pinky appears briefly], Regret—I think that's what Cameron Diaz calls Matt Dillon in real life—Lovey, because Jennifer Grey always has to play characters with demeaning names.
- That clip from Dirty Dancing
- Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze): Nobody puts Baby in a corner.
Todd (VO): And then there's Madonna, who plays a showgirl named, yes, Hortense Hathaway, or, for short...
- Brief clips of characters saying, "Horty."
Todd (VO): Here, Madonna, in this movie...
Todd: ...your job will be basically to get called Horty a lot. Sign me up!
Todd (VO): Now like I said, on paper, you'd think this movie would at least be watchable, but it's really hard to get through. Every scene lands with a flat thud, pretty much nothing about it works, and the thing is, it's kinda hard to put my finger on why. It's not something you can point and laugh at how bad it is, it's...it's just...I don't know what it is. It seems like it should be working, but I feel nothing.
Todd: Let me go back in the different flavors of bad Madonna movies. [Posters for Shanghai Surprise (STUPID)...] No... [...Who's That Girl (OBNOXIOUS)...] I guess a tiny bit, but not really. [...Desperately Seeking Susan (BORING)...] Close, but that's not quite it. [...and Bloodhounds of Broadway...] Wait, wait, I think I got it. (POINTLESS) Bingo. It's pointless.
Todd (VO): At no point did I care about anything that was happening, and I think a large part of that is 'cause it's made from four separate short stories, these weren't written to be movies, and they certainly weren't meant to be mixed together as haphazardly as it is.
Todd: You go back and watch multiple-plot movies like [clips of the first and third of...] Love Actually or Magnolia or Crash, and even if you don't like 'em, there's a rhythm to them. They're made of scenes in a certain way that flow and add up to a bigger picture.
Todd (VO): Bloodhounds of Broadway, meanwhile, is spliced together as choppy and slapdash a manner as possible.
- Busboy (David Youse): [almost tripped by waiter] Warthogs belong in Ringlings.
- [Cross wipe to Feet Samuels (Randy Quaid)]
- (Wait, where are we now?)
Todd (VO): Now, let me try and convey what it's like watching this movie.
- Guy: I'm afraid the Brain meets with an incident at Mindy's.
- Waldo: Meanwhile...
- [Cuts away to...]
- Regret (Matt Dillon): Well, well, well, Feet my boy, this is like the start of...
- Waldo: [cutting off several scenes with...] Meanwhile.
Todd (VO): But even worse is the way it introduces all the characters.
- Waldo: It begins at Mindy's infamous restaurant, where, as luck would have it, our large cast of characters all seem to have a reservation.
Todd (VO): You could almost call it contrived. Look, there's no rhythm because it tries to introduce all the characters at once, including a bunch who won't matter until way later, (Starring Alan Ruck as Sir-Not-Appearing-in-the-Rest-of-the-Movie) and some of whom won't matter at all. The movie never recovers from this. Who's this guy? Beats me. Does he show up later? Nope.
Todd: Or maybe he does. I don't know.
Todd (VO): Everyone I inflicted this movie on had extreme difficulty figuring out who was who and what the hell was going on, even though the narrator tells us in excruciating detail what's happening on the screen.
- Waldo: Feet favors one hand, and blows right before he throws.
Todd (VO): You don't say.
- Waldo: The underhand toss, a flick of the wrist
Todd (VO): Yeah, I have eyes, jerk.
Todd: Why do I feel condescended to?
- Basil Valentine (Ethan Phillips): Inspector McNamara.
- Inspector McNamara (Gerry Bamman): I think I...
Todd (VO): Most of the movie seems to be relying on the time period to make it interesting. It's all just very stiff. Most of the acting is very stilted and phony.
- Miss Missouri Martin (Anita Morris): Lovey, don't barbecue your brains over that boll weevil.
Todd (VO): 23-skidoo, that hotsy-totsy flapper's the cat's pajamas!
Todd: Okay, what's it about? Ugh, Christ.
Todd (VO): Here are the plotlines, and I want you all to appreciate the multiple times I had to watch this so I could put it together. Okay, Matt Dillon wants to get back with his ex, Jennifer Grey, but she won't because he's a dirty, cheating gambler; Julie Hagerty gets tricked into thinking Neelix is a gangster and wants him to whack the guy who shot her parrot.
- Handsome Jack (Esai Morales) shoots a parrot
- Harriet MacKyle (Julie Hagerty): POLLY!
- John Cleese (dubbed over): This is an ex-parrot!
Todd (VO): Rutger Hauer is a mob boss who gets knifed in a mob hit and finds that no one cares enough about him to give him some comfort as he's dying; and there's a murder victim, and the cops try to find his killer. Oh yeah, by the way, Bloodhounds of Broadway is literal. There's no theatre involved, it just takes place in the actual street of Broadway, and also, there are actual bloodhounds. Yeah.
- Waldo: Now it does look like these hapless hounds...
Todd (VO): Shut up!
Todd: I can't deal with all these stories. Let me just focus on Madonna's.
Todd (VO): The main character of that storyline is Randy Quaid, a down-on-his-luck loser.
- Feet: I'm in love.
- Waldo: In love with who?
- Mindy (Louis Zorich): [to Hortense] Some customers like you I don't need. Out.
- Hortense: Hey!
Todd (VO): Good luck, buddy.
- Feet hands a man a wad of cash
- Waldo: Feet was the most notoriously honorable guy in town. Where did he suddenly get all that dough.
Todd (VO): Good question. Why is he suddenly so flush with cash? Well, wait 'til you hear the answer.
- Feet: So I remember that croakers pay for bodies to practice on, and I find me this doctor who wishes to buy mine.
Todd: Yeah. He...
Todd (VO): ...sold his body to science so he can be studied after he dies. And not, like, years down the line when he eventually kicks the bucket. That debt is getting called in...
Todd (VO): He's going to use his money to pay off his debts, then have one last night on the town, and then he's going to let a doctor kill him.
- Regret: This doesn't sound legitimate.
- Feet: Oh, it's very legitimate.
Todd (VO): I...I know the Prohibition Era was rife with murderers, gangsters, bootleggers, bank robbers.
Todd: This is the first time I've heard of it having [drawing of...] mad scientists!
Todd (VO): So he's gonna go out, enjoy his last night on Earth, including buying fancy things for Hortense, partying it up. Things are going well. Maybe too well.
- Big Shelley (Herschel Sparber): How many, Feet?
- Regret: This may be a choice moment to start a losing streak.
Todd (VO): Let the wookie win.
- Feet shows his hand: four aces and a five of diamonds. They run away from Big Shelley as "Yakety Sax" plays
Todd (VO): Ugh. Okay, so now we have a dilemma. He was planning to kill himself, but now he's turned his money into a whole lot more money, and Hortense seems pretty receptive to his newly rich self, Life kinda seems worth living now. What's he gonna do?
- Waldo: Just go to 'ol Whiskers, give him his dough back
- Feet: Of course! It's so simple. Now that I'm loaded, I can repurchase my life, and have plenty of potatoes left over to keep Hortense interested.
Todd: That seems reasonable.
- As "Yakety Sax" plays again, Feet gets chased out by the doctor.
That does not seem reasonable.
Todd (VO): Okay, what about Madonna? Well, it's not a huge role, but, you know, it's a fairly decent-sized part, she doesn't embarrass herself or anything. The thing is though, about the character, even though we clearly watch Randy Quaid buy his way into her heart, I think the movie is trying to make Hortense out to be a gold digger with a heart of gold.
- Hortense: I know a 24-hour chapel over in Hackensack; we don't even need a blood test.
Todd (VO): Like...I think we're supposed to buy that she's really in love with him.
- Waldo: You do love him, don't you?
Todd (VO): His schlubby looks, his dopey demeanor, his lifetime reputation of being broke. What's not to love?
So yes, I want to clarify that this is a movie where Madonna falls in love with [still image from Saturday Night Live intro] Randy Quaid. [Poster of a very sexy...] Madonna... [...and, as Cousin Eddie...] Randy Quaid. Hey, Madonna, in this script, you get called Horty a lot, and you make out with Randy Quaid.
Todd: I'm in!
Todd: That said, I do get why Madonna signed on, at least. You know, this old-school, Golden Age of showbiz stuff, that's...that's really her thing, you know. It's something she's always been drawn to and done well with. And get this. She even gets...
Todd: ...a show-stopping musical number.
- Hortense: Pride's that splendid liar
- Sworn enemy of love
- Lovey: Kept my lips from saying
- Things my heart was thinking of
- [Todd just taps his finger on the piano, clearly bored]
- Hortense: But now my pride you've humbled
- I've cast it to the winds
- Lovey: Broken, beaten, sick at heart
- Hortense and Lovey: Now our confession begins
Todd: No amount of illegal booze in the world could make this interesting.
Todd (VO): Whatever you want to say about Madonna as an actress, as a singer, she's one of the most dynamic stage presences to ever live. The camera loves her, she has proven that over and over again. To cast Madonna as a showgirl and give her a musical number, and have her not light up the screen...
Todd: ...takes a special level of incompetence.
- Songs ends
Todd (VO): And then, all the storylines kinda collapse in on each other, everything sorta climaxes at once. Oh no, she's shot. Turns out they really do love each other.
- Regret: Let her live, and I swear I'll never play the ponies again.
Todd (VO): Calm down, dude, I've had mosquito bites do more damage than that. Also, it turns out Jennifer Grey was the one who killed that guy. He had it coming, apparently. But the cops misidentify Matt Dillon as the killer instead. Oh no. And then what's this?! Turns out the dead guy wasn't even dead!
- Marvin Clay (John Rothman): For the love of God, who was it then. I do not wish to press charges.
Todd (VO): Ha ha, it's almost like nothing of importance has been accomplished at all! And then, Madonna saves Randy Quaid's life, I guess? I don't know, this is stupid. And everyone else, they all live happily ever after.
- Waldo: Regret and Lovey Lou, Horty and Feet, and even Basil and Harriet are all still enjoying their pieces of paradise.
Todd (VO): They've been living in hobo villages since the Depression happened, but at least they got each other.
Todd: It's just a failure all around.
Todd (VO): Except for that one movie that isn't even really a movie, I recommend Bloodhounds of Broadway the least of all the movies I've watched here. It's not the worst, but it is the hardest to watch. It's a deadening experience. Madonna, however, will rebound pretty hard, and her film career can only go up from here.
Todd: Because sooner or later, she always gets her man.
- Preview for Dick Tracy
- Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty): Whose side are you on?
- Breathless (Madonna): The side I'm always on—mine.
- Announcer: Warren Beatty is Dick Tracy.
Closing tag song: Madonna ft. Jennifer Grey - "I Surrender Dear"
"Bloodhounds of Broadway" is owned by American Playhouse Films
This video is owned by me