Brenda Starr, Reporter
Special Edition Serial - 1945
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The hunt is on for a $250,000 payroll robbery. The police are looking for it, and mostly just to be annoying so is ace reporter Brenda Starr and sidekick relief photographer Chuck Allen. The main clue is a man named Joe Heller. As the serial begins, Heller is trapped in a burning building. Henchman Kruger guns him down and sticks Brenda in a closet so she'll burn. Lucky for her, her boyfriend Lt. Lawrence Farrell manages to rescue her. And we're off and running! Brenda has her usual knack for getting into tight situations exploding mines, burning buildings, and the like. Chuck bounces between useless and useful, thereby making it hard to hate the character like so many other comic relief characters. Lt. Farrell constantly ends up berating Brenda and Chuck and their editor. Bonus Features: Photo Gallery; Before & After Comparison of the Digital Restoration. DVD9; Dolby Digital 2.0; RT - 243 minutes; B&W; Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1 - 4x3; Year - 1945; SRP - $19.99
Top customer reviews
Joan Woodbury makes an attractive and very likeable Brenda Starr and she gets solid support (and a touch of romantic interest) from Kane Richmond as Police Lieutenant Farrell plus some amusing byplay from Syd Saylor and Joe Taylor and George Meeker and Wheeler Oakman make for better than usual bad guys. It's a routine plot and hardly "spine tingling" but still well done and good fun with fine use of obvious Columbia studio sets, tantalizing narration (who belonged to that voice that so well propelled these Sam Katzman serials?) and a repetitive music score by Edward Kay which works really well.
Luckily, I grew up to appreciate the great feature it was. And it was a greater thrill to finally view the classic serial. In true cliffhanger fashion, this movie has everything you'd expect...car chases, abductions, suspense, screaming (Lots of screaming) and of course plenty of action, action, ACTION!!!
Actress Joan Woodbury is perfectly cast as Brenda Starr. Most of the regulars of the strip especially her great love Basil, is not in this one. Still, the movie holds up and grabs your attention yearning for more.
Now you won't see much of Chapters 3 & 4 due to deterioration of the original print over time. But it being a serial you will be able to catch up on what you've missed, trust me.
So please get this serial. I think you'll be pleased. I sure was.
Racing to the scene of a fire, Brenda Starr (Joan Woodbury) and her photographer, Chuck Allen (Syd Saylor) arrive about the same time as police lieutenant Larry Farrell (Kane Richmond) and his partner Tim (Joe Devlin) who have a lead that fugitive Joe Heller (Wheeler Oakman) is in the area, and believed to have a stolen $250,000 payroll. Brenda spots Heller at a window of the burning building, and goes inside to investigte. But Kruger (Jack Ingram) finds Heller first, forces him to turn over a money satchel and then shoots him, just before Brenda arrives. Kruger then pushes Brenda into a closet, hoping she'll get burned to a crisp. But Farrell shows up and lets her out; she gets a note in some form of code from the wounded Heller but doesn't immediately tell the police, wanting to take a crack at decoding it first. Kruger's boss, Frank Smith (George Meeker) finds that the money-satchel contains only blank paper when it gets to his nightclub headquarters. So the search is on for the payroll money, and Smith says only he knows the identity of the "big boss" who communicates with him by radio.
Columbia only included Joan Woodbury and Kane Richmond in the on-screen credits. In addition to those listed above, Frank Smith's henchmen are Muller (Anthony Warde) and Schultz (John Merton). There's an underworld figure Charlie (Ernie Adams) and in short roles two female accomplices, Vera Harvey (Cay Forrester) and Zelda (Marion Burns). A fairly important role not identified in the lists I've seen is Brenda's boss, the Managing Editor of the Daily Flash, E. J. Walters, played by Frank Jaquet, whose size makes him a little hard to miss. In 1945 he was also in the second chapter of Republic's "Federal Operator 99" as lawyer Warren Hunter.
While the plot isn't anything special, it is handled well, and for a serial there are some unusual twists. It isn't likely that Brenda Starr will get into any fistfights, so the serial concentrates on other mayhem, and there is plenty of dirty work by the bad guys, not all of it against the forces of law and order. Watching Wheeler Oakman and Ernie Adams trying to outfox each other is a special delight. If there is a problem it is that the individual contributions are shorter than when one of these actors is in charge of all the skulduggery. The same issue affects the good guys; much of the screen time is devoted to the title character, so Kane Richmond is more of a "helper" and his partner, Joe Devlin, is competing with Syd Saylor, office boy Pesky (William Benedict) and Brenda's roommate Abretha (Lottie Harrison) for the "comic relief" which, for once, is fairly well-controlled. The plot maintains interest, and the action is supported by a fine musical score by Edward J. Kay.
VCI's edition, # 8575 is on a single disc, and they have done an amazing job with the parts of the serial that remain. One of the "extra" features shows before-and-after results of restoration, as split-screen images. The speckled original has been cleaned up to a remarkable degree, if with a slight loss of contrast, though a few blips remain, especially where there is movement. A few scenes use rather heavy "averaging" of frames, causing smearing of the image of moving objects and people. No attempts were made to restore the missing soundtrack on the second reel of Chapter Three, but the video is present. The video was gone on all of Chapter Four, and the audio, available for only the first reel, is accompanied by a few still pictures from the serial where appropriate, and otherwise by a view of a Philco console radio. A printed plot synopsis is also included. There is an option to bypass the two chapters, but you gotta find out if Brenda escapes the trap set for her in Chapter 2. The sound, where not affected by film degeneration has good fidelity, though the level is a little lower than most DVD's.
This is an enjoyable serial, and VCI deserves high praise for releasing it in an easily watchable edition. The missing chapter parts are unfortunate, but the story is easily followed and it is good to be able to see one of the better Columbia serials.
Most recent customer reviews
** THIS COPY** has some MISSING audio and video on Chapter 3 & 4 but STILL WORTH THE WATCH~ THIS IS IN...Read more