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

Thursday, February 16, 2012


FEDERAL OPERATOR 99 (12 chapter Republic serial/1945). Directors: Spencer Bennett; Yakima Canutt.

Jerry Blake (Marten Lamont) -- AKA Operator 99 -- and assistant Joyce Kingston (Helen Talbot) vs. crime lord Jim Belmont (George J. Lewis) and his moll Rita Parker (Lorna Gray). At least Belmont appreciates some of the finer things in life, such as classical music. He plays the Moonlight Sonata as a henchman begins to torture a countess (Elaine Lange) with fire. Hal Taliaferro is distinctive as the gunsel Matt. Among other plots, Belmont tries to get his hands on some jewels and a prized Stradivarius. Joyce is almost cremated in chapter three, and strung up to face a giant propeller in chapter four. [There are a couple of recycled cliffhangers as well.] Federal Operator 99 has an interesting cast and characters, including Jay Novello as a diamond cutter and Tom Steele as several thugs and others. Lorna Gray was in many other serials, including Daughter of Don Q and The Perils of Nyoka.

Verdict: Fast-paced and with great fight choreography. ***.

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