Saturday, August 10, 2019

Tonight's Movie: The Daredevil Drivers (1938) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

THE DAREDEVIL DRIVERS (1938) is a Warner Bros. "B" film just released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

The plot, such as it is, concerns Bill (Dick Purcell), a race car driver who's been banned for reckless driving.

Bill resents a bus company owned by Jerry (Beverly Roberts) because their driver's carelessness wrecked the race car he was towing. Out of spite, Bill goes to work for a rival bus company run by Tommy Burnell (Donald Briggs) and arranges to sue Jerry's company, but then he finds himself falling for Jerry. Bill also realizes his employer runs a pretty shady operation.

Unfortunately this hour-long film is a real snoozer, other than a runaway bus sequence and the moments when perky Gloria Blondell pops on screen. Roberts and Purcell are charisma-free leads, and Charley Foy plays the type of obnoxious sidekick role which would be in better hands with someone like Allen Jenkins. Foy, incidentally, was the brother of the film's producer, Bryan Foy.

On the whole, the movie plays like a cut-rate edition of other "B" films like RKO's WILDCAT BUS (1940) and Warner Bros.' BUSSES ROAR (1942), but it's not nearly as interesting.

THE DAREDEVIL DRIVERS was directed by B. Reeves Eason, who specialized in "B" movies and shorts. The screenplay by Sherman L. Lowe was based on a story by Charles Condon. It was filmed in black and white by Ted McCord. According to IMDb, some of the exterior driving scenes were filmed in the Hollywood Hills.

The cast also includes Gordon Oliver and Cliff Clark. Look for William Hopper of PERRY MASON as one of Jerry's bus drivers.

The print is slightly soft and there are occasional jiggles and light scratches, plus a more persistent small scratch mid-screen in the last minutes of the film, but the print is generally good quality and entirely watchable. The sound is good. There are no extras on the disc.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

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