The Gas House Kids in Hollywood (1947)

Article #1138 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-26-2004
Posting Date: 9-23-2004
Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Featuring Carl ‘Alfalfa’ Switzer, Rudy Wissler, Benny Bartlett

Four young men from New York en route to Hollywood stay at the home of a mad scientist, where they encounter all sorts of spooky goings-on.

You’re a former member of a famous all-child comedy team known as ‘Our Gang’. You’re too old to be a child star anymore. So what do you do? Well, you combine with a few other former child stars and form a new comedy team to engage in Bowery Boys-like slapstick. You then make a haunted house movie, with a cadaverous looking scientist experimenting with corpses to communicate with the dead a la THE DEVIL COMMANDS (the scientist is played by the instantly recognizable Milton Parsons), a gaggle of beautiful girls, a wise-cracking parrot who is mistaken for both Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Foster (and my rule that wise-cracking parrots are never funny still holds), some dumb cops, some gangsters, and an actor known for playing detectives who, despite being famous enough to have fan clubs across the country, isn’t earning enough money to make a living and so has become involved with the gangsters in order to search for a fortune hidden in the haunted house. Throw in lots of gags of dead bodies disappearing and reappearing, revolving doors and skeletons, mix thoroughly, and Voila! Instant comedy. If I were to say it was as good as it sounded, that would be no compliment; as it is, it’s worse than it sounds. How bad is it? Not only did it make me miss the Bowery Boys, but it made me miss the Lemon Grove Kids. Incidentally, Benny Bartlett would go on to become a legitimate Bowery Boy.

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