Master Minds (1949)

MASTER MINDS (1949)
Article #1592 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-24-2005
Posting Date: 12-21-2005
Directed by Jean Yarbrough
Featuring Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell

When Sach develops precognition as a result of a toothache, the Boys decide to cash in on this ability by having him make predictions for money. This catches the notice of a mad scientist, who decides that he must use Sach’s superior mental abilities by placing them in his monster, Atlas.

I would have to rank this as one of the best of the Bowery Boys movies. Here are the reasons.

1) Leo Gorcey is particularly inspired with the malaprops this time around.

2) Huntz Hall hits just the right note in his comic performance. Usually, he gives in to too much shameless mugging, but here he keeps it to a minimum.

3) It isn’t just the Leo and Huntz show; both Billy Benedict and Gabriel Dell are given real characters and a substantial part of the action.

4) The movie also features a fun cast, including Alan Napier doing his best John Carradine impersonation, Skelton Knaggs and a cameo from Minerva Urecal.

The story itself is somewhat similar to that of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN; I mean, what other movie features an attempt to place the mind of a member of a comedy team into a character played by Glenn Strange? This movie takes it one step further, though; the transfer actually happens. Which of course leads us to the best thing about this particular movie, namely –

5) Glenn Strange’s performance as Atlas the Monster with the mind of Sach (Huntz Hall). Yes, I know that Strange was dubbed by Hall for the part, but his physicalization of the role at this point (i.e. his body language and gestures) does such a fine job of capturing the mannerisms of Huntz Hall that it becomes drop-dead hilarious. It may well be Strange’s most inspired performance. It makes me wonder what it would have been like had the brain transplant in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN had taken place, and we had seen Strange’s performance of the Frankenstein monster as Lou Costello. That would have been something to see!

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