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

Thursday, May 17, 2012


The big-faced gal is kidnapped

BRENDA STARR, REPORTER (13 chapter Columbia serial/1945). Director: Wallace Fox.

Based on the comic strip by Dale Messick, this has plucky reporter Brenda Starr (Joan Woodbury) involved with the assorted players in a quarter million payroll robbery. Lou Heller (Wheeler Oakman), just released from prison, refuses to tell anybody where the money is; after he's killed his twin brother turns up. Frank Smith (George Meeker) is the gang leader who reports to an unseen "Big Boss." Brenda alternately works with and gets in the way of Lt. Larry Farrell (Kane Richmond). Billy Benedict is the dizzy copy boy, Pesky; Lottie Harrison is Brendra's economy-sized roommate and cousin, Abretha, who is always either eating or preparing dinner; and Syd Saylor is the photographer, Chuck. An interesting aspect of the serial is that the cliffhangers aren't always resolved at the opening of the succeeding chapter but a few minutes into it. Richmond and Woodbury, a real big-faced gal, are fine, and most of the supporting players are competent, but Brenda Starr, Reporter is a very minor-league serial with standard cliffhangers, a pretty weak plot, and colorless antagonists. Not one of Columbia's gems.

Verdict: Quite a disappointment. **.

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