KID MONK BARONI (1952) – It’s not Rocky, it’s Spocky! Leonard Nimoy made his film debut in this half-assed, cliche-filled and trope-ridden mess of a movie.
Nimoy plays Paul Baroni aka Kid Monk Baroni, a street-fighting tough guy whose belligerence stems from his mild deformity and the scorn that it brings him.
In lieu of prosthetic ears, Kid Monk Baroni finds Leonard sporting a prosthetic nose for a large part of the film, thus depicting the “ugliness” which drives his hostile urges. Paul Baroni has become a leader of sorts for his pack of juvenile delinquents called the Billy Goat Gang, an inferior imitation of Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall’s Bowery Boys/ Dead End Kids/ Little Tough Guys and all the other names they used over the years.
(One of Baroni’s cronies is Angelo, played by Jimmy Olsen himself, Jack Larson.)
Kindly Father Callahan (Richard Rober) catches the Billy Goat Gang in one of their acts of destruction and tries to channel the gang’s ample energies into pugilism. Nimoy’s character emerges as the only true contender from the bunch and we see his rise in the ring as he uses boxing to exorcise his demons and unleash his rage.
Soon called Kid Monk Baroni, Nimoy encounters gangsters who propel him ever-upward. Eventually, he uses some of his boxing purses for plastic surgery to fix his nose. Overly pleased with his new appearance, Paul loses his “old neighborhood” humility and turns to partying and cheap women.
Baroni leaves behind his “good” girlfriend Emily Brooks (Allene Roberts) and becomes led around by his smaller nose by bad girl June Travers (Mona Knox).
This movie isn’t about to demonstrate originality after wallowing in painful predictability for the bulk of its runtime. As you would guess, the future Vulcan regains his relatively wholesome values, returns to the good girl and uses some of his latest purse to pay for a new youth center for Father Callahan’s parrish.
Sadly, Kid Monk Baroni is pretty damn dull. Even the most devoted Star Trek fans seem to find this flick too bland to force themselves to watch. As of this writing there are only 10 reviews of this movie on IMDb.
The scenes in the ring are the highlight but even they disappoint. Nimoy just does not have the kind of physique that would make him convincing as a successful boxer. As for Richard Rober as Father Callahan, you can make a drinking game out of all the Irish Priest stereotypes he crams into his performance.
When I reviewed The Girl in the Kremlin in 2019 I pointed out how subdued that movie was, when it had the potential to become a cult classic of badfilm. It’s the same situation with Kid Monk Baroni, which, to its credit, never quite collapses into Golden Turkey material.
Unfortunately, that leaves it in a very boring state. It’s not worth enduring all the way through. At least not in its original form. An overdub with comical dialogue like with What’s Up Tiger Lily? or What’s Up Hideous Sun Demon? might breathe some life into this limp picture.
P.S. In the “Don’t Try This At Home” Department, this movie features Paul Baroni refusing to take a dive at the command of his gangster backers not just once, but TWICE. They’re pretty chill about it, though, and he suffers no adverse consequences for refusing to go down for the count.
FOR MY REVIEW OF JAMES BATMAN, AN UNAUTHORIZED BATMAN MOVIE WHICH TEAMS HIM UP WITH JAMES BOND CLICK HERE.
FOR MY LEO FONG MOVIE MARATHON CLICK HERE
FOR MY ROBERT GINTY MOVIE MARATHON CLICK HERE
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