Detective Lt.Bill Bannister has the assignment to run down an unknown gang of terrorists spreading a net of crime over the city. Aiding him is Detective Tim Nolan, news photographer Vicki ... See full summary »


(as Noel Smith),


(original screenplay), (original screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
Det. Lt. Bill Bannister
Vicki Logan
Dr. Clayton Maxton aka Prof. Mortis
Det. Tim Nolan
Happy Haskins
Police Chief Martin O'Brien
George Watts ...
Mayor Hansen
Mike Taboni
Victor Zimmerman ...
Ted Lane aka Barnard (as Vic Zimmerman)
Joey Morrison aka Mason (as George Lewis)
John Berkes ...
Mr. Grub (as Johnnie Berkes)
Pat O'Malley ...
Police Chemist Crandall


Detective Lt.Bill Bannister has the assignment to run down an unknown gang of terrorists spreading a net of crime over the city. Aiding him is Detective Tim Nolan, news photographer Vicki Logan and reporter Happy Haskins. Bill finds that the gang's leader is a mysterious Professor Mortis and the gang is made up of known criminals officially listed in the police records as dead. Each has become of member of Mortis' "League of Murdered Men" after seemingly committing suicide by hanging while on death row. Bill eventually, after surviving a plane crash, being dynamited, dropped down a well and other nuisances, tracks the gang to two hideouts; a subterranean cell beneath the city's subways and a suburban mystery house. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

31 March 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lucha contra el crimen  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Based on a real radio show in which unsolved crimes were reenacted in the hope of catching the criminals. However, the only thing this serial took from the "Gang Busters" radio show was the call signal and the title; the story was both an original one and completely fictional. See more »


[last lines]
Mayor Hansen: Since I'm the one who had O'Brien kick you off the force, I'm asking him to give you back your badge.
Police Chief Martin O'Brien: Will you take it, Bill?
Det. Lt. Bill Bannister: Thank you, sir.
[Bill read the inscription on the badge]
Det. Lt. Bill Bannister: Detective captain!
Mayor Hansen: It should read, "Gang Buster Number One".
Vicki Logan: Well, that's the way it goes - demoted one day and promoted the next.
Police Chief Martin O'Brien: You know, Bil, I want to make you Chief, but I suddently remember that was me!
Vicki Logan: Hold it, gentlemen.
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User Reviews

Unusually fine serial
11 January 2007 | by (California, but not where the cool folks live) – See all my reviews

When I give this a 10, I mean 10 for a serial. I don't imagine that it's CITIZEN KANE, but it is easily one of the best serials, and the only one with significant horror elements. Universal's product is usually better-scripted and less formulaic than Republic's, and this is the best-scripted of them all, with the possible exception of the second version of SECRET AGENT X-9.

One element that lifts GANGBUSTERS above average is the presence of a henchman who complains about being sent on dangerous assignments. I've always wondered what kind of fool would take up something as dangerous and unrewarding as hench-work, and here at last a scriptwriter addresses the problem. There are other dashes of humor as well, but the story itself stands out for its morbidity, unusual in a film intended for children. It's easy to imagine the mothers of 1942 having to cope with the vivid nightmares of young viewers.

Ralph Morgan, the Wizard of Oz's real-life brother, is remarkably intense as the wicked Professor Mortis, who assembles his gang from executed criminals -- you heard me -- and conducts his nefarious business from a hideout under the subway (Who built it? Didn't anybody notice?). His goal isn't to rule the world or to do anything at all lucrative, just to have revenge on those who treated him unjustly. In other words, this time the Count of Monte Cristo is a bad guy.

The cliffhangers are exciting, and are resolved without TOO much cheating. The hero is bland, as serial heroes often are, but in this story something happens to the hero that is most unexpected. In fact the plot takes several quite remarkable turns, and the climax is unique. Great fun!

9 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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