Tag Archives: Sam Katzman

Brenda Starr, Reporter (1945, Wallace Fox), Chapter 2: The Blazing Trap

The Blazing Trap opens with a lengthy lead-in to the cliffhanger resolve. Even though the resolve is pretty easy, it’s kind of cool how much context Brenda Starr gives its resolution. It doesn’t feel like a quick wrap up, it feels like a part of the story.

After it’s over, though, the chapter speeds headfirst into a boring finish. Joan Woodbury, once again, foolishly investigates something without letting the cops know. Last time there were tragic consequences. Who knows what will happen this time. Assuming Brenda Starr doesn’t die in the second chapter.

But that boring finish isn’t just because there’s a weak cliffhanger. It’s everything in the second half of the chapter. The first half hinges on Syd Saylor being funny as Woodbury’s meandering photographer. It doesn’t not work, but at least Blazing is trying.

Then the next scene, when Woodbury and Saylor check in with newspaper editor Frank Jaquet, has some snappy dialogue. It seems like Blazing might be headed somewhere. Somewhere good, not somewhere boring.

Woodbury interviews a night club singer (Cay Forester), who has some connection to the unseen villain–The Big Boss. Then Woodbury gets in trouble investigating a lead. Shouldn’t be boring, somehow manages to be boring.

Woodbury’s fine, she just isn’t compelling enough to save the serial.

CREDITS

Directed by Wallace Fox; screenplay by Ande Lamb and George H. Plympton, based on the comic strip by Dale Messick; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Charles Henkel Jr.; music by Edward J. Kay; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Joan Woodbury (Brenda Starr), Kane Richmond (Lt. Larry Farrell), Syd Saylor (Chuck Allen), George Meeker (Frank Smith), Wheeler Oakman (Heller), Cay Forester (Vera Harvey), Marion Burns (Zelda), Lottie Harrison (Abretha), Ernie Adams (Charlie), Jack Ingram (Kruger), Anthony Warde (Muller), John Merton (Joe Schultz), William ‘Billy’ Benedict (Pesky), and Joe Devlin (Sgt. Tim Brown).


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Brenda Starr, Reporter (1945, Wallace Fox), Chapter 1: Hot News!

Brenda Starr, Reporter is all action. Sure, there’s some scenes of lead Joan Woodbury sitting at her desk, but she’s just waiting to hear about more action.

The chapter starts with a building on fire. Woodbury and her photographer, Syd Saylor, drive out from the newspaper office, racing to get there faster than the cops. The cops are Kane Richmond and Joe Devlin. Richmond’s the good-looking one and Woodbury’s de facto love interest. Devlin’s the dopey comic relief. He and Saylor–Woodbury’s dopey comic relief–have a bet going on who gets to crime scenes faster, reporters or cops. It leads to some silliness around the burning building, which ought to be terrifying but isn’t.

Ande Lamb and George H. Plympton’s script has thin exposition and broad humor. About half the runtime is spent on mid-level villain George Meeker–there’s an unseen, unknown “Big Boss” who speaks to his thugs in paternal, private radio addresses. Woodbury and Richmond get the other half, with a little more time going to Woodbury.

Jack Ingram plays one of Meeker’s thugs. He doesn’t like Woodbury snooping.

Hot News moves pretty well. Woodbury keeps a straight-face through Saylor’s nonsense, which doesn’t work for the humor but does make Woodbury more sympathetic.

It’s okay. Nothing particularly great (or even good), but nothing concerning either.

Fox’s direction could be a bit more lively, however. And Ira H. Morgan’s photography is a bore.

CREDITS

Directed by Wallace Fox; screenplay by Ande Lamb and George H. Plympton, based on the comic strip by Dale Messick; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Charles Henkel Jr.; music by Edward J. Kay; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Joan Woodbury (Brenda Starr), Kane Richmond (Lt. Larry Farrell), Syd Saylor (Chuck Allen), George Meeker (Frank Smith), Wheeler Oakman (Heller), Cay Forester (Vera Harvey), Marion Burns (Zelda), Lottie Harrison (Abretha), Ernie Adams (Charlie), Jack Ingram (Kruger), Anthony Warde (Muller), John Merton (Joe Schultz), William ‘Billy’ Benedict (Pesky), and Joe Devlin (Sgt. Tim Brown).


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