Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Secret Service of the Air (1939) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

SECRET SERVICE OF THE AIR (1939) was the first film in the the Brass Bancroft series starring Ronald Reagan.

The movie is part of the four-film Brass Bancroft of the Secret Service Mysteries Collection, available from the Warner Archive.

SECRET SERVICE OF THE AIR precedes CODE OF THE SECRET SERVICE (1939), which I inadvertently watched out of order a few days ago. SECRET SERVICE OF THE AIR was released in March 1939, with CODE OF THE SECRET SERVICE following in May. The final two films came out in October 1939 and June 1940.

SECRET SERVICE OF THE AIR is an interesting little "B" in which the Secret Service tries to break up a ring smuggling illegal aliens over the border from Mexico via airplane. It's a story which still seems rather timely over 75 years later.

There's a rather shocking scene where a pilot, played by character fave John Ridgely, fears being caught and "dumps" all his passengers out of the plane. The mass killing, which was rather stunning for a movie of this type, reminded me of a scene in TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH (1948) in terms of sheer unexpected brutality.

After the bodies are found Agent Saxby (John Litel) recruits pilot Brass Bancroft (Reagan) to go undercover for the Secret Service to help solve the murders.

Eddie Foy Jr. plays Bancroft's sidekick, as he also did in CODE OF THE SECRET SERVICE. The cast also includes Ila Rhodes, Rosella Towne, James Stephenson, Frank Thomas, and Morgan Conway.

One of the more amusing moments in the film is a nightclub fight in which there are a couple of full-face shots of Reagan's stunt man, which makes things confusing, to say the least. I can only assume they were too cheap to do a reshoot!

"Valley Airport" in the movie was actually Glendale Airport, which appeared in numerous films of the era.

This film was directed by Noel M. Smith and filmed by Ted D. McCord and the uncredited Arthur Edeson. It runs 61 minutes.

The Warner Archive disc is a fine print. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


Blogger barrylane said...

And brass became a pretty good president. We hope the new guy will be just as strong.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

A double amen to that, barrylane :-)

10:07 AM  

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