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Helen Talbot  



Republic, 1945.  Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet.  Camera:  Bud Thackery.  With Marten Lamont, Helen Talbot, George J. Lewis, Adrian Booth, Hal Taliaferro, LeRoy Mason, William Stevens, Maurice Cass, Kernan Cripps, Elaine Lange, Frank Jaquet, Forrest Taylor, Jay Novello, Tom London, Jack Ingram, Ernie Adams, Curt Barrett, George Chesebro, Edmund Cobb, Michael Gaddis, Jack George.


Crime lord Jim Belmont escapes FBI custody and begins a reign of thievery that is thwarted at every turn by Jerry Blake, the FBI's Operator 99.

This wonderful serial is from the Republic Studios heyday, 1937-1947, full of director Spencer Gordon Bennet's fantastically designed fistfights, and imaginative chapter endings.  But the best things about this one are the excellent performances by everyone involved.  Marten Lamont, who portrays the title character, gets much "into" his role and gives a much more animated performance than a lot of other serial heroes.  I wish he had done more serials, but probably Republic decided that his charming British accent was too out of place.  Lamont can be seen in small roles in Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent and John Ford's How Green Was My Valley.

Helen Talbot, who played in hundreds of Republic B-Westerns opposite stars such as Don "Red" Barry and Allan "Rocky" Lane, is a very likeable heroine, and gets herself into a lot of nasty situations, although she is probably one of the only serial heroines to never get knocked unconscious in the course of the whole serial.

As for the bad guys, George J. Lewis gives his greatest serial performance as the suave, urbane, music-loving master criminal Jim Belmont.  Although Lewis did lots of other serials, this was his only part as a "brains" heavy, and he gives it everything he's got.

Equally impressive is the talented Lorna Gray, as Belmont's henchwoman, Rita Parker.  Miss Gray is almost as nasty in her portrayal of Rita as she was as Vultura in Nyoka and the Tigermen, three years earlier.  And yet, in several other serials, she played the heroine, and just recently I saw her in a old Three Stooges short on AMC, as the scatter-brained wife of a wealthy tycoon. Truly a versatile actress!

As for the supporting cast, Hal Taliaferro, as Belmont's chief gunman, is a typically tough and stupid "action" heavy.  Ernie Adams has an entertaining bit as a reporter, and all of Republic's stuntmen pop up as assorted hoods, more than once.  But the crowning performances are by Lamont and Lewis, both in brief moments of glory.



Chapter Titles

  01 - The Case of the Crown Jewels
02 - The Case of the Stolen Ransom
03 - The Case of the Lawful Counterfeit
04 - The Case of the Telephone Code
05 - The Case of the Missing Expert
06 - The Case of the Double Trap

07 - The Case of the Golden Car
08 - The Case of the Invulnerable Criminal
09 - The Case of the Torn Blueprint
10 - The Case of the Hidden Witness
11 - The Case of the Stradivarius
12 - The Case of the Musical Clue


Internet Movie Database

Poster artwork courtesy of Dieter