Brick Bradford (1947)

Brick Bradford (1947)‘Follow me if you can. To the Moon!’

Brick Bradford and his friends are recruited by the government to protect Dr Gregor Tymack He is working on an ‘Interceptor Ray’, which can shoot down enemy missiles, but he’s come to the attention of a criminal gang, who want to sell the secret to a foreign power.

15 chapter Columbia serial based on the hit newspaper comic strip created by Clarence Gray and William Ritt. The studio’s usual production team are present and correct: director Spencer Gordon Bennet (here working with Thomas Carr), producer Sam Katzman and writer George H Plympton. However, the final product is different from their usual output, the story being structured into 3 separate parts.

The first was written by Plympton and begins by setting things up. Tymack’s lab is the back room of an isolated lodge in the woods. Considering he’s working on something so important, it’s a puzzle as to why he’s out there with only two lab assistants for company. Similarly, why his safety is being placed in the hands of Brick (Kane Richmond) and his pals (tough but idiotic sidekick, an old professor, old professor’s available daughter) also seems to exhibit a somewhat cavalier attitude to national security.

Anywho, Tymack is under threat from the unscrupulous Laydron and his rent-a-goons. Laydron isn’t a criminal mastermind, a super villain or anything like that; he’s just a cheap thug who seems to have walked in from a 1930s Warner Bros crime movie. And, worse than that, he’s really not very interesting.  But just when we’re expecting the usual round of captures, escapes, fisticuffs and gunplay, Tymack legs it through his Crystal Door. To the moon!  Predictably, the lunar surface looks a lot like the Californian desert, you don’t need breathing apparatus and the planet is being run by a puppet queen and her evil advisor. Brick and his friends join the resistance (led by an Earthman and his daughter!) and sort it all out by the end of Chapter 5!

In part two (written by Arthur Hoel), Tymack remembers that he needs some scientific notes which were hidden in a pirate treasure chest a couple of hundred years before (what?!) So he sends Brick and his sidekick back into the past in his Time Top! They succeed with the aid of exploding cigars! It’s all a bit silly actually.

The final chapters of the serial are devoted to tying up the Laydron situation, only he’s no longer the main villain! Probably deciding that he was too boring, writer Lewis Clay has one of Tymack’s assistants change sides and steal the good doctor’s equipment. Unfortunately, he’s not much of a criminal mastermind either and events limp to a rather tired conclusion, enlivened slightly by an invisibility machine (bloody clever chap this Tymack!)

Brick Bradford (1947)

Their new home was surprisingly spacious but the garden needed a little work.

Whether the studio felt it did not have a plot strong enough to support 15 chapters and opted for this format instead is unrecorded. If it sounds like it makes for an exciting serial, it actually comes across as half baked. Unusually, there are very few ‘cheats’ in the cliffhangers (where different footage is shown at the start of the following episode).

Star Richmond plays it admiringly straight throughout, having previous as the lead in ‘The Spy Smasher’ (1942). Apparently, he hated using stunt doubles and insisted on fighting a 25 foot python himself in ‘The Devil Tiger’ (1934)! Lead actress Marion Burns had to rush in to help but it all ended happily enough: they got married!

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