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State Police (1938)

Passed | | Action, Crime, Drama | 18 March 1938 (USA)
The state police try to break up racketeering in a coal mining town.



(original story and screenplay)




Complete credited cast:
Sgt. Dan Prescott (as John King)
Pvt. Smith / Bill Clarke
Helen Evans
Trigger Magee (as Larry Blake)
Charlie Wheeler (Mine Owner)
Cpl. Duffy
Ted Osborne ...
Jack Evans (as Ted Osborn)
Col. C.B. Clarke
Guy Usher ...
Capt. Halstead (as Charles Wilson)
Const. Higgins
Deputy Joe Palmer


When his son is expelled from college, Colonel Clarke, head of the State Police, assigns him to the patrol of Sergeant Dan Prescott as Private Smith. "Smith" disobeys Dan's order and makes a play for his girl Helen Evans. During a shutdown of unprofitable coal mines at Minersburg, the gang of racketeer "Trigger" Magee levies tribute on the miners who are mining coal for their own use. Magee kills Albert Morgan for opposing him, and Dan gets order to arrest Magee and clean up the situation. "Smith" quits the force and becomes involved with the gangsters headquartered at "The Oaks," a notorious resort ran by Helen's brother Jack. The latter double-crosses Magee and is killed by him. Magee is arrested, escapes and makes "Smith" a prisoner and beats him unconscious for refusing to phone his father to call off the police hunt. Miners, led by Joe Palmer and Charlie, organize to clean out the gangsters while Dan's troopers are also closing in. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Crime | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

18 March 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aventureiro Arrependido  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Did this film inspire Police Academy?
13 January 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Bill Clarke has been expelled from three colleges and a military academy. What is his rich and powerful father to do with the irresponsible lad? Why make him join the State Police of course! That's the kind of person who I'd want serving and protecting me! So that nobody knows of his dad's connections, Bill is enrolled in the police academy with the last name of Smith. Of course Bill smarts off in class, ignores orders, and is a pain in general. Sgt. Dan Prescott (John King) has had just about enough of his antics and so he takes "Smith" aside one day and asks him if he wouldn't be happier as a civilian. Bill says of course he would, but then shows the letter from his dad saying that Bill is pretty much stuck being in the State Police until he turns his life around, and thus Sgt. Prescott is stuck with him as a charge.

Meanwhile, in the creatively named town of Minersburg, racketeers are muscling in on - of all things - the coal business??? This was definitely a new angle in crime pictures from what I'd seen before. The coal company as a policy let individual miners take what coal they needed from the mines for their own use, and the syndicate was using that as a means to hollow out entire sections of the mine as their own. If any of the miners disagreed with them they'd just kill them. So the racketeers are hurting the coal mining company, and this in turn throws the miners themselves out of work. The local rural police force is too small to handle the job, so the state police are called in to handle the situation. Thus Private "Smith"/Bill Clarke, Sgt. Prescott, and Cpl. Duffy all show up in Minersburg.

At this point the plot becomes muddled. The miners are readying to take the law into their own hands and barricade the roads of the gangsters' coal shipments, and yet the state police don't reveal to anyone - even local law enforcement - that they're there to help with this specific situation, which is a move that could have saved lives by giving the miners hope and preventing mob rule from taking over. Also, why would Prescott take his least reliable charge, Bill Clarke, on such an important mission? You'd have to expect he'd let you down when you need him most, and you'd be right. When Prescott makes an important arrest he discovers Clarke has taken off in their only police car with a local girl for a nighttime date! So there Prescott is with a handcuffed prisoner in "enemy territory" - the gangsters' roadhouse - and no way to retreat. When Prescott does get out of this jam and disciplines Bill for such outrageous behavior, Bill not only pouts and packs up his stuff, he offers his services to the mobster that they came there to stop in the first place because he wants a job! Don't worry. I haven't given that much away because there's much more far-fetched stuff going on before it's all over. Give this one a try. It may have players you've never heard of, but they acquit themselves rather well and the pace is pretty fast. It's definitely different.

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