RADIO PATROL (1937)
Article 1957 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-24-2006
Posting Date: 12-21-2006
Directed by Ford Beebe and Clifford Smith
Featuring Grant Withers, Kay Hughes, Mickey Rentschler
A cop finds himself investigating the murder of noted scientist and the theft of his secret, the formula for a new flexible bulletproof steel.
If my theory that serials put their best foot forward in the opening episode holds any water, what does it say about this one that within ten hours of having seen the first episode of this one, I had totally forgotten the storyline? The prognosis is not good, I’m afraid, and this one turned out to be a rather listless and dull affair. Which is not to say that there aren’t points of interest here. The story is fairly elaborate; instead of your basic good guy versus villain plot, we have our good guy, two sets of bad guys (one headed by a company executive, the other an international crime syndicate headed by a man with hypnotic powers), and two wild cards, a brother (who was the johnny-on-the-spot when the inventor was killed) and sister (who works under an alias as the secretary to the executive) who could go either way. Naturally, it falls into the hands of two cops to solve the problem. No, make that one cop; his partner may be good in a fight, but he’s so busy solving crossword puzzles that he’s totally useless as a lookout. Is it any wonder that the cop recruits the help of associates any policeman would find essential; namely, a ten-year-old boy who lives in a junkyard and his dog (who steals the movie and isn’t in it near enough). He even lets the kid drive in a pinch, which wouldn’t seem so bad an idea if there hadn’t already been a full-grown woman also available to take the wheel. I will admit that the cliffhanger in episode eleven is pretty good, but, for the most part, I found it hard to believe that this one would actually keep the wide-eyed attention of that little boy reading a “Radio Patrol” comic book who appears after the opening credits; my wife theorized that he must actually be perusing a Bettie Page centerfold.