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Daredevils of the Red Circle

USA 1939
produced by
Republic
directed by John English, William Witney
starring Charles Quigley, Herman Brix (= Bruce Bennett), David Sharpe, Carole Landis, Miles Mander, Charles Middleton, C. Montague Shaw, Ben Taggart, William Pagan, Corbet Morris, Raymond Bailey, Fred 'Snowflake' Toones, George Chesebro, Ray Miller, Robert Winkler
written by Barry Shipman, Franklin Adreon, Rex Taylor, Ronald Davidson, Sol Shor, music by William Lava, Cy Feuer, David Tamkin

serial

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A villain chiefly known by his prison number 39013 (Charles Middleton) has made it his mission to wreck, Granville (Miles Mander), the very man who had him thrown into prison. Granville is an eccentric millionaire with hands pretty much in every industry there is, so 39013 sabotages Granville's companies one after the other ...

The Three Daredevils Gene (Charles Quigley), Tiny (Herman Brix) and Bert (David Sharpe) perform some circus-style stunts at the opening of one of Granville's ventures, which is set on fire though, and this causes the death of Gene's little brother/the trio's mascot Sammy (Robert Winkler), and now the Daredevils want to track down 39013 to avenge their fallen friend - thus they seek employ with Granville's company as his amateur detectives so to speak, but are at first bruskly sent away by his second in command Dixon (Ben Taggart). However, they make friends with Granville's granddaughter Blanche (Carole Landis), and she sees to it that her granddad personally hires them - which sounds easier than it is, since Granville hides behind a glass wall since his stroke and won't let anybody but a selected few come near him ...

However, he also has another secret: Granville is secretly 39013 - well, not really really, but he has at one point abducted the real Granville and incarcerated him in his own home while assuming his role for the few who actually are allowed near him. And since he hides behind a glass wall these days, nobody is able to examine him too closely, not even Blanche.

At first, 39013 considers the Daredevils clueless fools only, but once they start to sabotage his sabotages, he grows wary and tries to somehow send them to death trap after death trap - but somebody in his evil organisation is apparently a snitch, and in the guise of the Red Circle, he or she tips off the Daredevils again and again. So either it's a chemical plant, a tunnle, a electro-therapeutical clinic, an oil pipeline or refinery or whatnot, the Daredevils always stop the vicious plans of 39013 just short and escape all death traps set on them, often using their acrobatic skills.

Besides the informations from the Red Circle, the Daredevils also receive the occasional notes from Granville directly, pinched into old newspapers, but it takes them quite some time to find the newspaper that tells them where he's hidden. And by then, 39013 has alread attached him to a timebomb. But the Daredevils are no fools, and eventually they unmask the fake Granville, save the real Granville just in time and ... well, almost die in another of 39013's deathtraps of course - but almost only, ultimately the villain and his cronies see themselves forced to make a hasty getaway during which 39013 is blown to smithereens by one of his own death devices.

But who is the Red Circle, you may ask. Well, actually it's Blanche, who has actually found out the fake Granville is not the real one but was forced into silence by the baddie threatening her grandpa's life ... but the notes she wrote did not give her away as the snitch ...

 

Daredevils of the Red Circle has pretty much everything a great serial needs: Almost nonstop action, circus-like stunts, over-the-top setpieces, perfectly staged and edited fight scenes, an old dark house, secret passageways, an (over-)convoluted mystery, great cliffhangers ... in other words, this is one very worthwhile and expertly staged serial, and probably one of the best of its era!

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
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directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD