Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

HOP HARRIGAN

William Bakewell as Hop Harrigan













HOP HARRIGAN 15 chapter Columbia serial. (1946). Director: Derwin Abrahams.

Hop Harrigan, "America's Ace of the Air Ways," was originally a comic book aviation hero in All-American Comics [where the more popular golden age Green Lantern also appeared] before becoming a radio series and then a serial. Hop (William Bakewell) and his buddy Tank Tinker (Sumner Getchell) are asked to do a job for a man named Arnold (Emmett Vogan), who heads a mysterious committee. This committee wants to prevent the inventions of a certain Dr. Tobor (John Merton) from falling into the wrong hands. In the meantime a shady character calling himself the Chief Pilot also has designs on Tobor's weapons. Unfortunately, Tobor is apparently a paranoid schizophrenic and winds up becoming a bigger menace than any of the bad guys. A bigger problem is that there is no attempt to work up any suspense over the identity of the Chief Pilot, who hardly ever appears and is utterly colorless. There are no memorable cliffhangers to speak of, a big problem in a cliffhanger serial, except maybe when little Jackie's (Robert "Buzz" Henry) parachute gets caught on the wing. The acting is efficient enough, with pretty Jennifer Holt good as Gail, who helps out the boys. Claire James is sexy as Arnold's ward Gwen, but she hasn't enough to do and her flirting with Hop goes nowhere. Bakewell started in silent pictures, appeared in everything from All Quiet on the Western Front to The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe to Radar Men from the Moon and had a very long career. At 38, he was quite a bit older than the character of the comic strips, but his was a recognizable name. Comments that he seemed tired in the serial [at only 38!] probably have to be chalked up to age discrimination, as he's perfectly lively throughout.

Verdict: Watchable, but not so hot. **.

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