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Jail Busters

Jail Busters(1955)

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teaser Jail Busters (1955)

The Bowery Boys series couldn't be too picky with story material; the contract with Allied Artists required four finished feature films per year. For their 39th comedy, Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall take on the Big House genre, finding laughs where they can. When a reporter friend (David Gorcey, Leo's younger brother) is badly beaten in an attempt to investigate conditions behind the stone walls of the prison, Slip Mahoney (Gorcey), Sach Jones (Hall) and a third Bowery Boy (Benny Bartlett) decide to bust into prison to clean up the crooked situation, as special agents for the paper The Blade. They try to get arrested by leaving ample clues (including Sach's name) during a feigned burglary, but the cops are so clueless that they're obliged to ask a friend to turn them in. Acting blas about their prison terms, the boys are unaware that a mix-up has prevented The Blade from informing the prison of their secret mission. The boys' goofball hi-jinx earn them formidable reputations in the cellblock. They meet a convict who has been digging a tunnel for twenty years, and their crazy behavior drives a prison psychiatrist (Fritz Feld) batty. The boys then find what they're looking for: with bribes to the head guard Captain Jenkins (Barton MacLane), some big shot crooks including gangster Percival P. Lannigan (Anthony Caruso) are living in luxurious appointed cells. After the usual gauntlet of complications, the boys save the day. This series entry is unusual for having no women in the cast. Even in a slapstick comedy the Production Code mandates that a corrupt official institution will self-heal: the squeaky-voiced Warden Oswald (Percy Helton) eventually sees through the crooked lies of his head guard and believes the boys' claim of innocence.

By Glenn Erickson

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