Dick Barton: Special Agent (1948)

Article 3279 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-12-2010
Posting Date: 8-6-2010
Directed by Alfred J. Goulding
Featuring Don Stannard, George Ford, Gillian Maude
Country: UK
What it is: Uneven spy melodrama

Dick Barton investigates a smuggling operation that actually seems to have a more sinister intent up its sleeve.

This movie was based on a popular British radio series. All I can say is that this series must have been really popular if this movie managed to spout two sequels. It’s half ineffectual comedy and half campy heroics. The script is a mess, and the combination of static direction and frantic but substandard editing makes for a confusing and unpleasant viewing experience; it feels somewhat like you’re listening to a song where one of the musicians is consistently off a half-beat throughout. The low budget really shows in the use of sound; several of the scenes feel like a redubbed silent movie with the words not matching the mouths, and when the foley artists decide to add fight sounds to the fight scenes (which they don’t always see fit to do), they don’t make any attempt to match the sounds up to the action. And as for the visual aspect of the fight scenes, I haven’t seen this many missed hits since the last time I saw a “Starman” movie. The fantastic content involves vials of super-germs, which never actually get used, so the movie remains pretty marginal overall. Reportedly, the movie is a lot more fun if you’re a kid. Also, I hear tell that the sequels are vast improvements over this one. Since I’ll eventually be watching them, I’ll find out for myself.

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