SERIES – Ace Drummond
DIRECTORS – Ford Beebe, Cliff Smith
WRITERS – Wyndham Gittens, Norman S. Hall, Ray Trampe
SIX DEGREES OF CAST AND CREW
- Actor Robert Warwick can be seen in the Joan Crawford thriller, “A Woman’s Face” (1941). Joan also starred in 1954′s “Johnny Guitar”, co-starring a young Royal Dano, star of the NARCs-reviewed “Spaced Invaders“!
- As a personal reminder to myself, I’m going to make a point of checking out this “Johnny Guitar”, if only for the stellar cast – Joan Crawford, Royal Dano, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine, “Dukes of Hazzard” star Denver Pyle, and “The Godfather” star Sterling Hayden in the title role.
- Al Bridge can be seen in the classic Marx Brothers opus, “A Night At The Opera” (1935), along with fellow Drummond-ite Stanley Blystone
- Al Bridge is also seen in 1933′s “Fighting With Kit Carson”, along with Drummond-ites Noah Beery Jr. and… Robert Warwick!
- Keeping with Mr. Bridge, he’s seen in “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” (1939), playing a Senator. Who else plays a Senator here? Ace Drummond’s Edmund Cobb! Who else is in “Mr. Smith”? Some dude named Dave Willock, who can be seen in the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 classic, “Revenge of the Creature” (1955), as well as CinemaNARCs’ freshly-liveblogged “Queen of Outer Space” (1958)!
- Al Bridge is such a wonderful catalyst for this Six Degrees game, so let’s go hardcore on this last one – Al’s final role before passing away in 1957 was 1954′s “Hell’s Outpost”. One star of this was the oddly named (and unfortunately-portraited on IMDB) Chill Wills, also of 1944′s “Meet Me In St. Louis”. This film gave an early role to a young William Smith, who would later be seen in the uber-rediculous “The Thing With Two Heads” (1972). Also seen in that entity was Tommy Cook, who had an uncredited P.O.W. part in 1953′s “Stalag 17″, far beneath the starring Sig Ruman, who is seen in… the above-mentioned “A Night At The Opera”, which you now know features Drummond-ites Al Bridge and Stanley Blystone! Man it feels good to be so awesome at this game…
Episode 5 – “Bullets of Sand” (by far the coolest episode title yet, even if no guns are fired in this one)
Wow, how long has it been since the last Ace Drummond review, three months? Four? Yeah right, try LAST DECEMBER. Good job, me. Anyway, let’s get back to it, Pruitt!
A pretty straightforward episode this time around, moving fast and lean. We’re bookended with action (as per the custom of cliffhanging serials like this), and pure espionage in-between. There’s not much in the plot-revelation department, which is fine, as this episode serves mainly to shuffle characters around a bit. Previous episodes had already established that Henry Kee, radio operator Johnny Wong, and the monk Kai-Chek are all spies for the mysterious Dragon. All in all Episode Five gives the story a kind of chess-match feel, which characters moving (or attempting so) into place for the sake of strategy instead of straight combat.
Our hero Ace Drummond rather inexplicably survives his car being sky-bombed by a Dragon-pilot’s hand grenade. Previously he had successfully rescued Dr. Trainor, father to the only lady in this show, Peggy Trainor. After meaning to send Dr. Trainor running on foot mere moments before the sky-bombing, Ace learns from the highly suspect German expeditionists that Trainor was promptly re-captured by the same air-bombing plane. The Germans wisely try deflecting Ace’s theory that the enemy airplane was a weapon of the Dragon, and while Dr. Trainor is back in enemy hands, Ace now knows the Dragon’s real motive : the secret mountain of Jade that Dr. Trainor had both discovered and been discovered discovering… er, yeah.
Peggy herself meanwhile tag-teams with the thankfully-not-typically-obnoxious young Billy to do some sleuth-y footwork, spying on the quarters of the German Dr. Bauer. It’s good that they remind us of Peggy’s personal motivation to find her father, though it feels forced and dismissive by having her short dialogue lump the search for the Dragon and the search for her father in together. What this leads to is this chapter’s closing action sequence, which ends up feeling awkwardly improvised and last-second-written. Peggy and Billy are inexplicably locked into Dr. Bauer’s cabin, and the only way out is for Billy to climb up the chimney and break Peggy out from the outside. His attempts to find a tool to do so end up with Billy forced to hide inside a grain barrel. Our cliffhanger ending is what ultimately redeems (almost) the shoddy cabin sequence, if only by way of pure ingenuity. While one might expect a typically goofy scene involving the villains simply hauling the barrel away without realizing Billy’s inside, they instead go back to what they were doing before taking a break : using an oldschool threshing machine, with a giant tube funnelling seeds into Billy’s barrel! It’s still a kind of silly tune-in-next-week ending, but at least it isn’t another airplane crashing into the ground.
Soooo, tune in next week (or another few months from now) to see if Billy is either caught or gets more grain in his diet… permanently! Right here at CinemaNARCs.com!
RATING – Four plot-en-passants out of Five