Television Spy (1939)

Article #1241 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-7-2004
Posting Date: 1-4-2005
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Featuring William Collier Sr., William Henry, Judith Barrett

A cantankerous industrialist decides to give financial backing to an inventor intent on developing long-distance television, but has to deal with spies, both industrial and political.

This is my favorite movie of the thirties with the word “television” in the title. This in itself really isn’t saying much; TRAPPED BY TELEVISION was fairly humdrum, and MURDER BY TELEVISION was a sore waste of celluloid. This one is a lot of fun, though. Part of the fun is the hilarious performance by William Collier Sr., whose barking, opinionated, and cantankerous industrialist is highly entertaining. They also make a lot of use of the science fiction elements on this one; much of the plot revolves around unexpected transmissions from the television sets in use. The movie also includes early performances by Richard Denning and Anthony Quinn. It’s exciting and efficient, running just under an hour. It’s just a b-movie, but it shows how entertaining they can be when done right.

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