Hop Harrigan (1946)

Article #1086 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-5-2004
Posting Date: 8-2-2004
Directed by Derwin Abrahams
Featuring William Bakewell, Jennifer Holt, Robert ‘Buzz’ Henry

A pilot is hired to deliver a scientist’s secret invention to the man who financed the experiment, but ends up running afoul of crooks who are also after the secret.

Every once in a while I run into a serial that helps me to identify why it is that I find many serials somewhat unsatisfying. Most serials are so geared towards nonstop action that all other considerations are thrown out the window, including character and plot development; generally, they do nothing more than establish the good guys, establish the bad guys, set up the McGuffin, and let them fight it out. I suspect those that love that type of structure will be somewhat disappointed by this one, which has more talk and less action than usual, but I really enjoyed this one because it added one element that made it work; namely, a sense of mystery. The mystery lies in the existence of certain characters who can’t be easily established as good guys or bad guys from square one. The scientist here is a loose cannon; he spends most of the serial being kidnapped and rescued, but he is such a paranoid, quick-to-anger, and resourceful personality, that you’re never sure who he will side with ultimately. Furthermore, the character of Ballard who is trying to cut a deal with the scientist for his invention is playing a game of his own that fits in with no other agenda. Both characters are mysterious and somewhat unpredictable, and trying to figure out how things would pan out in the end was actually more fun than obvious. I also found the characters likeable and interesting; even the little kid who is Hop’s fan isn’t merely a helpless pawn to be rescued; he is resourceful, smart and useful, and that’s also somewhat unusual for the child characters in these movies. The way the various elements of the plot unfold over the length of the serial also has a smoothness about it that I enjoyed; I never got the feeling they were continually rehashing the same situation repeatedly. I’m sure many serial fans will disagree, but I have to rank this one as one of my favorites.


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