Wait, what the -- Tear Gas Squad? You mean you don't remember that? Neither do I, hardly, and I just watched it the other day. Not that I was planning on watching a musical. Not with that title and its 55-minute running time -- technically, five minutes shorter than what a feature was considered back then. Never was such a baldfaced bait-and-switch perpetrated on ticket buyers.
It must have taken the writers longer to watch the final product than to have written it. Small-time crooner Tommy McCabe becomes a cop to impress Jerry Sullivan (a woman, so don't get any ideas), who comes from a family of policemen. A hothead by nature, Tommy is soon canned when he punches out fellow cop and romantic rival Bill Morrisey. But he redeems himself by catching the gangsters who killed his brother Joe.
|Everybody sing! (If you're not too gasp-jammed.)|
Yeah, that has "musical" written all over it. Or at least it does with the four songs Morgan sings. But the numbers he's given here don't even count as forgettable. It's as if they didn't exist to begin with. (One of them, performed at the chintzy tavern where he works, is called, "I'm an Officer of the Law." It's funny because his character has always hated cops. Get it?) The low budget is betrayed by the seemingly-endless stock footage during police manhunts. (One sharp-eyed viewer over at imdb.com noticed the Warner Bros. water-tower, complete with logo, which gives you an idea of the care that went into this production.) Movies like Tear Gas Squad were made strictly to pump product into the studio-owned movie chains. Thank God the auto manufacturers didn't own repair shops -- the number of accidents caused by second-rate jalopies would have skyrocketed.
|Was John Hamilton ever young?|
|Hey! Superman don't need no gun!|
|"Stop! Or I'll shoot my|
baby blues at you!"
|The only time Buchanan|
appeared to have bathed.
|"What am I this time?"|
|"Who you callin' 'cro-magnon'?"|
|"I'll just have a wee|
drop o' the wee dram o' the
|She's the most masculine of the three.|
So if you have a thing for inane, schizophrenic, lower-case "e" entertainment, then by all means wallow in Tear Gas Squad's charms. If not, you can regard it as an audio-visual history lesson -- an example of a time when something had to be projected onto a screen for a couple of days. The strange thing is, if you added some new numbers and re-wrote the script, it would make for the next cult off-Broadway comedy -- Tear Gas Squad!: The Musical. Now that might be worth watching.
By the way, the tear gas doesn't show up until the final three minutes. Right before Dennis Morgan sings to Gloria Dickson while his horse looks away in utter boredom.
The original trailer for Tear Gas Squad. Everything about it is a lie. (The video may take 10 seconds to appear.)