Two old Bowery characters, Steve Brodie and Chuck Connors, have been dramatized to a point where the only thing that’s recognizable from the record books about them are the jump from Brooklyn Bridge and Bowery lingo respectively.
This script [from the novel by Michael L. Simmons and Bessie Ruth Solomon] makes them rivals for mass leadership on the old street, but the important point is that as rewritten the two practically legendary characters make good entertainment.
The Connors-Brodie honest rivalry over everything, from gals to fighting ability, giving the tale a Flagg-Quirt glow, is the story. Brodie (George Raft) gets the girl. But he takes a licking from Connors (Wallace Beery) in their private finish fight on a river barge. The fight is an exciting interlude, and it comes in handy where it’s placed – under the finale. Previously, in the extremely well-staged Brodie bridge leap, the picture has reached its peak. It then stumbles until the fight arrives, but the latter brings home the bacon.
Beery is doing The Champ all over again to a great extent, with Jackie Cooper again as his foil. The Cooper kid, obviously outgrowing the baby type, is still a trouper and sends in another gem performance. Raft, much improved, is an okay choice as Brodie. The other meat parts are carried by Fay Wray, who plays straight to the boys, and Pert Kelton, who sings and dances as a Bowery soubrette in Connors’ joint.