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Secret Agent X-9

USA 1945
produced by
Morgan Cox for Universal
directed by Lewis D. Collins, Ray Taylor
starring Lloyd Bridges, Keye Luke, Victoria Horne, Jan Wiley, Cy Kendall, Samuel S.Hinds, Jack Overman, Benson Fong, Arno Frey, George Lynn, Clarence Lung, Ferdinand Munier, Ann Codee, Edward Howard, Mauritz Hugo
screenplay by Patricia Harper, Joseph O'Donnell, based on a story by Joseph O'Donnell, Harold Channing Wire, based on the comicstrip by Dashiell Hammett, Alex Raymond, published by King Features

serial
Secret Agent X-9, American World War II propaganda

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Shadow Island is an island in the Pacific, circa half way between the US and China, and it is privately owned by one crooked (but not too evil) American, Lucky Kamber (Cy Kendall). Shadow Island has managed to stay neutral in the Second World War so far, but as the war is progressing, it has increasingly become a meeting place for spies ... and Lucky Kamber is happy to accept everyone on his island who is able to pay enough ...

On Shadow Island, the Japanese, led by dragon lady Nabura (Victoria Horne) conduct experiments to create a scientific airplane fuel, which would decide the war in the Japanese' favour, and eventually, scientist Hakahima (Benson Fong) has come up with something, 7-22, an explosive that turned out to be a failure (as an explosive) but makes perfect airplane fuel ... too bad (for the Japanese) that 7-22 was developed by an American scientist, Professor Raymond (Mauritz Hugo), and the formula is still safely tucked away in his office in America, without him even knowing what it's worth. So Nabura, Hakahima and German bnattleship officer Captain Grut (Arno Frey) are looking for ways to get that formula from America ... and eventually decide to bring in a doppelganger ...

But the American secret service hasn't been idle neither, and they have sent their top agent X-9 (Lloyd Bridges) to Shadow Island to investigate the whoel affair ... even if the Americans don't have the slightest idea what those cryptic numbers, 7-22 could stand for ...

Anyways, X-9 soon teams up with two employees of Lucky Chamber's casino, the House of Shadows, who are really American agents, Chinaman Ah Fong (Keye Luke) and Australian Lynn (Jan Wiley) - who even runs an anti-American radioshow with the help of the Japanese to actually radio encoded messages to the Allied Forces ... ghardly ever was there a better camouflage.

Soon the usual series of chases, fights, death-traps, bluffs and double bluffs ensues while our hero and his helpers try to thwart the plans of those evil Japanese (and their German allies, of course), and all the while, X-9 doesn't have the faintest idea what it's all about or what 7-22 could actually stand for (he thinks it's some secret attack plan) ...

Eventually, Lucky Kamber gets tired of both X-9 and company and Nabura and her gang, so he lures all of them into an abandoned mine and has it blown up ... but only manages to kill Hakahima - which in turn makes Nabura so mad that she has Shadow Island invaded.by the Japanese. Somehow however, X-9, Ah Fong and Lynn escape arrest, and make it onto the German battleship Lorelei. Nabura meanwhile has retreated to a Japanese submarine and ordered Shadow Island bombed while she plans to make her getaway ... but X-9 and Ah Fong find a radio on board the Lorelei and give fake orders to the leader of the Japanese bomberplanes to bomb Nabura's submarine instead of the island ... and that't the end of Nabura and her evil plans and the free world is saved once more.

Samuel S.Hinds plays a man who does not much more than stand at the bar of the local casino (even after that casino is bombed) and comment on the goings-on, only to the end turn out to be a British Secret Service agent - and his role works out surprisingly well.

 

Obviously, this film is a piece of American World War 2-propaganda, and as such it should be viewed as a mirror of its times rather than a prime example of action cinema. That said though, Secret Agent X-9 still remains rather dull where other serials would come into their own despite their limitations (e.g. Adventures of Smilin' Jack). The main reason might be that Secret Agent X-9 seems to be content with an unimaginative and repetitive succession of standard situations instead of telling an even moderately inventive story. And Lloyd Bridges as the hero rather fails to convince.

That said, it's not all bad, it's standard serial fare and if you're into serials, you might even like it ... but don't have too high hopes, it's not really good, either.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD