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Secret Agent X-9 (1937)

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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(Jan 23, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

When the crown jewels of Belgravia are stolen, Secret Agent X-9 (Scott Kolk) is sent to investigate. With the help of Shara Graustark (serial icon Jean Rogers) our hero soon discovers this to be no ordinary heist but the work of a mysterious master criminal known only as Blackstone. Bonus Features: Actor Biographies| Chapter Menu| Bonus Serial Trailers. Specs: 1-DVD9 + 1-DVD5; Dolby Digital Mono; 240 minutes; Color; 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA - NR; Year - 1937; SRP - $19.99.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Monte Blue, Henry Hunter, Scott Kolk, Jean Rogers, William Royle
  • Directors: Ford I. Beebe
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: VCI Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 23, 2003
  • Run Time: 235 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000087F1A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #106,590 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Secret Agent X-9 (1937)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is one of two serials of the same name, the second being in 1945 with a different plot and cast. "Secret X-9" was a popular comic strip of the day, based on characters created by the great writer of detective fiction Dashiell Hammett.

This was probably the best serial made as early as 1937 until William Witney came along at Republic Studios and raised the bar for the genre, and the best Universal serial until the 1940's. It has the look and feel of a "real" movie, not all stops and starts like so many other serials. It seems more like a typical mystery film of the 1930's, what "Gang Busters" could have been, perhaps. With the action usually continuing right on through the cliffhangers, it has a tight story and is well acted, with endless switcheroos as to who has the jewels or the paper that will lead to them. The sets are very good, especially the waterfront scenes and the pirate ship in the harbor. The fights, which are fairly short though not well choreographed, are less important than the plot, a welcome change from most serials. Unfortunately the chapter endings are not very remarkable, except for one which has a remarkably bad cheat: Chapter 5 ends with X-9 being shot by a hidden gun in a bookcase--he clutches his stomach and keels over to the floor. In Chapter 6 the gunshot misses him completely and instead knicks his pal Pidge.

Scott Kolk had been a Broadway actor who went to Hollywood with the advent of sound. He became a Universal contract player, and was elevated to a title role for the first time in this serial. But stardom eluded him, and not even a name change to Scott Colton could do the trick; he left films in 1938.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Leonard J. Kohl, in his book "Sinister Serials" (2000), declared that this serial "is officially considered lost". Well, thanks in large part to the great collector and preserver of old radio shows and movies, Fred Shay, we now have a clear, clean print of this "lost" serial.

"Secret Agent X-9" began as a newspaper comic strip drawn by Alex Raymond, who had also created "Flash Gordon". Although Dashiell Hammett was apparently hired to help with the plot, he ended up contributing very little. Too bad, because this is one very boring serial. (Universal was just not very good at producing effective stories for this very tricky genre.) The plot has to do with a mysterious jewel thief, the crown jewels of some imaginary country, examining paintings with a ray-beam device to find a bank receipt, boat chases, G-men, etc. It's all rather ho-hum, if you ask me. However, the serial gains in historical significance much of what it lacks in entertainment value, for one of the minor characters is a thug named Marconi who is played by none other than Lon Chaney, Jr. Two years after this serial was released, Chaney would portray Lennie in the movie and stage versions of Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men", and he would go on to become a very popular B-movie star who would also make some significant A-movies.

Each episode on this two-DVD set begins with the serial's titles and credits and, starting with episode 2, a comic strip that outlines what happened during the last episode. This is exactly the way serials were shown in theaters in the "old days", and the way they should be watched today.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Though this may not be on anyone's top 10 serial list this is certainly a top-notch serial by anyone's standards!
UNIVERSAL, a studio noted for overly-plotted serials trimmed down this one for fan consumption. Chapters 1-8 consist of finding a painting that holds the clue to a fortune in jewels! Needless to say, the painting switches back and forth throughout all 8 chapters. Then we get to the grist of things when chapters 9-12 deal with badguy Brenda trying to make his getaway with the booty, pirate booty, as much of the serial deals with a pirate ship attraction "THE JOLLY RODGER" as the hideout for the baddies.
This is not a great lost serial. Yes, it's lots of fun in the traditional serial fashion. VCI's edition is OUTSTANDING!!!!! by all standards! However, if it only had Kane Richmond or Ralph Byrd or even Herman Brix as the star... but, Scott Kolk???...He's not bad, actually he's pretty good, but rather...forgettable.
Monte Blue, Jean Rogers, Lon Chaney Jr., and especially Henry Brandon (who steals the show!!!)are all on hand throughout the UNIVERSAL stock footage and excellent location shooting!
This is not a serial to be missed.
A MUST-HAVE for fans of such things (like me) and a welcomed addition to the genre, especially in such a beautiful transfer!!!
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!!!!!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A great old 1937 'serial.' The only character that I readily recognize is the 'heroin' Jean Rodgers of "Flash Gordon" fame, a few years later. The 'film' IS action packed but I will have to say that these 'federal agents' are about as stooopid as they make 'em !! Every time they "get their man" these goofs make sure they are within arms reach of having their weapons taken away from them. Immediately a lengthy broo - ha - ha ensues to eat up a minute or two of filming. In reality, back then, you would shoot anyone of the 'bad guys' who have been that much trouble for you to at LEAST disable them. A good laugh though that can be viewed by the entire family.
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