G-MEN NEVER FORGET (1948)
Article 5184 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Fred C. Brannon and Yakima Canutt
Featuring Clayton Moore, Roy Barcroft, Ramsay Ames
What it is: Action serial
An escaped gangster gets plastic surgery so he can imitate a police commissioner, thus getting access to information for his gangster activities. Can a government man see through the disguise and capture the gangster?
It seems like ages since I’ve covered a serial from the forties, but sadly, I have to admit this one didn’t impress me. Granted, I’ve always had a rocky relationship with the serial form. In theory, I love the idea – the episodic telling of a story over several weeks sounds like fun. However, in actual practice, I was disappointed, since most serials aren’t interested in telling a story as much as they are as using the bare bones of one from which to a hang and endless series of action sequences, and, not being an action fan, I get bored. What I most noticed about this one was how each episode seemed to be modeled on the same template. First, resolve the cliffhanger. Then, have an office scene where the heroes decide to investigate a place believed to be a haven of criminal activities. When they get there, they meet the main henchman and an assistant henchman. There is a fistfight, the main henchman gets away, and the assistant henchman is killed. Then there is another meeting, where another plan of action is discussed, and this leads us to the episode’s ending cliffhanger. In this serial, they hardly ever depart from this template. As a result, I felt it got rather dull and tired, and I was glad to put this one to rest. As for the fantastic content, one of my sources points to the operation that makes the criminal look like someone else, and I consider that to be very minor fantastic content. It does, however, delve into science fiction with a liquid that bursts into fire once it dries; this comes into play during a couple of episodes. This one is very ordinary at best.