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The Boys From Brooklyn

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Though sci-fi often has more in common with horror than comedy, "The Boys From Brooklyn" (1952) earns its cult status through an unwavering commitment to sheer silliness. Also billed as "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla", the film drops a pair of city boys in a South Sea jungle where one of them falls for the chief's daughter, Nona. Unfortunately, Bela Lugosi plays a scientist who doesn't like the competition—and he just so happens to have a formula to turn the handsome new guy into a gorilla.

At first glance, you might mistake the actors Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. If you do, it's not your fault. As a teenager, Sammy Petrillo began his comedic career with a role as Jerry Lewis's baby on "The Colgate Comedy Hour"—and in this film at least, he continued to depend on his ability mimic the successful comedian. He teamed up with nightclub singer Duke Mitchell for a Dean Martin-and-Jerry Lewis style act a year before "The Boys From Brooklyn" hit the screen.

Martin and Lewis were hot commodities at the time, headlining at countless nightclubs and starring in a string of films for Paramount Pictures. Martin, the smooth crooner, and Lewis, the loudmouthed goofball, were even rendered as comic books characters in a series by DC Comics that ran for a full five years until the pair broke up.

It's been reported that Christopher Guest (of "Spinal Tap" fame) and Leonard Maltin, the famous filmed critic, both count "The Boys From Brooklyn" among their favorites. In an interview with Monroe Mann, an adult Petrillo laughed. "There's something wrong with those people," Petrillo said. "My real claim to fame […] is that we're sitting here 50 some odd years later talking about it."

The Science

Tori Baker

Tori BakerTori Baker, Executive Director of the Salt Lake Film Society, discusses how technology has influenced the ways films are created and received since the time of the 1952 film “The Boys From Brooklyn.”


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Related Resources

Salt Lake Film Society

East Hollywood High School, Utah

Film & Media Arts - University of Utah

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