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

Thursday, August 8, 2013

RADIO PATROL

Rentschler, Hughes, and Withers
















RADIO PATROL (12 chapter Universal serial/1937). Directors: Ford Beebe; Clifford Smith.

"He acts like he knows something." -- Policeman Pat, referring to the dog

Scientist John Adams (Harry Davenport of Pardon My Past) has invented a formula for flexible steel which could make planes impervious to bullets and have other amazing uses. When Adams is murdered, the chase is on to not only find out who killed him, but keep the formula out of the hands of the bad guys. Cops Pat O'Hara (Grant Withers) and his partner Sam Maloney (Adrian Morris) join up with Adams' young son, Pinky (Mickey Rentschler); Molly Selkirk (Kay or Catherine Hughes), whose brother is at first accused of the Adams' murder; and Pinky's smart-as-a whip and spirited doggie, Irish (Silver Wolf). Bad guys include the sinister Egyptian, Tahata (Frank Lankteen), and slimy entrepreneur W. H. Harrison (Gordon Hart). Early on in the serial there are a couple of good cliffhangers -- Pat nearly winds up in a smelter furnace; and is almost smashed by a crushing door on a hydraulic hinge --  but other than that there's not much to recommend in this comparatively dull cliffhanger. Withers was in The Secret of Treasure Island, Jungle Jim, and other serials. Adrian Morris, sort of a Charles Laughton-lookalike, was the brother of Chester Morris. Beautiful Silver Wolf had only three film appearances. This serial was based on the comic strip of the same name; "Pinky," a youthful protagonist, came from "Pinkerton, Jr.," the original name of the strip. [In the the opening sequence a crime wave occurs and it is noted that the cops need radios in their cars to keep up with the bad guys; otherwise there is no real "radio patrol" in the storyline.] Withers and Morris also appeared together in the terrible serial Fighting Marines.

Verdict: When the dog is the most interesting character -- and actor -- and it isn't a Rin Tin Tin movie, you know you're in trouble. **.

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