The flashbulbs do have a distinctive look, and if that's what you're after, then that's what to use. Read Weegee's _Naked City_ for tips.
Given the expense of flashbulbs, you might consider converting something like an old Norman portable barebulb flash head to fit into the Graflite 3-cell housing, so that it will use the Graflite's reflector and produce a similar lighting effect. I've seen this done. The only downside is that you will need to carry a separate battery pack for the flash either over your shoulder or on your belt, but that's not such an unusual thing to do. Old 200B setups can be had for around $200, but be sure the battery is good and that it has the proper charger, because it can be costly to convert to the new Delta V batteries, which require a different charger than the old ones had.