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Not that anything in Radar Secret Service will tell you this is a
futuristic drama because everybody drives cars and dresses in fashions
of the present day of 1950, but the fact is even the movie-going public
was aware that radar did not have the capabilities so described in that
time. It still doesn't. But the premise around the film that radar was
an all purpose crime fighting and detecting tool was way in the future.
Two futuristic cops, John Howard and Ralph Byrd, ride around in a car equipped with radar detection and they're on a case involving some stolen uranium. The gang has all kinds of layers within it with your typical gangster's moll Adele Jergens supposedly gunman Tom Neal's woman, but really two timing him with mastermind Tris Coffin. In fact this whole film is proof positive of the premise there is definitely no honor among thieves.
Something tells me that the Radar Secret Service was not used in tracking down two bit stickup men and that the public was supposed to feel good about radar keeping us safe. This film really plays to Cold War paranoia.
On the plus side Adele Jergens and Myrna Dell playing a waitress are always good to look at and perennial Lippert Pictures regular Sid Melton is once again in this for comic relief. Sid was really needed here.
Poor John Howard - once Bulldog Drummond, once a supporting actor in
The Philadelphia Story, now starring in a Kit Parker film with a budget
of 50 cents - about the power of radar.
He's not alone. Tom Neal, Adele Jergens, Myrna Dell, and Sid Melton join him in this Mystery Science Theater travesty.
I was no science whiz, but so far as I know, radar could never do any of the things shown in the film - find guns, fight crime - why, the police department has a Radar Division.
Some crooks steal radioactive substance, why I don't know, and it's up to those g-men to track them down.
Someone described this as futuristic - there actually was one futuristic thing in it and it was called a telemeter, which worked like a minicam. Of course it was run by radar (I guess). To me it's always interesting to see things like that in old films, such as what was basically a fax machine in Call Northside 777.
This film was done so cheaply that they would show a guy driving a car who momentarily would look up at a helicopter, for instance, and five minutes later you would see the same identical clip again. Ditto two guys riding in a car. This is the kind of film where if it made $10 it made a profit.
John Howard smartly moved into television where he had an extremely prolific career until he retired. Adele Jergens did TV but kept her hand in B movies, as well as the rest of her. Sid Melton, whom I now find annoying since watching these films, had a successful TV career, and Myrna Dell worked in TV.
And Tom Neal? Well, he beat Franchot Tone to a pulp and put him in the hospital, then he went on trial for the murder of his wife. And his life was much more interesting than this film.
You see, Bulldog Drummond and Dick Tracy (actually two aging actors who
at one time or another played those roles) are working as "Radar
Agents" of the government. I wonder if they had badges that said "Radar
"Our beams have all the roads covered" the head agent says, so we are reassured that radar can solve any crime. Everybody knows that radar beams aimed at all the streets catches criminals, right? So, ordinary crimes that would have been solved by regular means are solved by radar machines instead, presumably at a great waste of taxpayer dollars. And a black Chevrolet runs around town with a silly metal dome bolted to its roof.
The director of this movie really did a lousy job, and the acting is poor except for Tom Neal who is convincing as a bad guy. Buxom Adele Jergens has the role of a blonde gang moll, but I still haven't figured out why her character is in the script at all. John Howard, as Radar Agent Travis, has exactly the same expression on his face throughout the whole film. I guess he thought "why bother" to smile, frown or emote at all. Absolutely nobody involved seems to care that they are in this film, but all they are asked to do is just read their lines and get in and out of cars.
If you are a fan of any of the actors involved, or even a fan of Lippert Pictures (which made some far better movies than this), you should just skip "Radar Secret Service".
This film must be the most radar friendly film ever made with "The
Deadly Mantis" being a close second. Yes, this film seems almost to be
an advertisement for the wonders of radar and chances are if you have
seen this obscure flick, you watched it on the riff show, Mystery
Science Theater 3000. I could not imagine seeing it any other way, just
as I cannot see this film having all that many actual fans. Seriously,
the film plays out like an advertisement for something and in the case
of radar it is not as if one can actually purchase it or needs it.
Well, I guess someone fishing could use it, but aside from that, most
people just do not really need it. It is like the film had to stress
upon us the importance of it because if we are not interested it will
no longer be used!
The story has a special department that uses radar to solve crimes. At the beginning two guys are using it to find a gun tossed out of a car or something. That is spectacular! Why it is so easy, I do not understand why they don't use radar for things like that now! Oh yeah, that is not how radar works! Well, at a diner we have some people starting a caper that involves radioactive substances and they actually do manage to get it! What amazes me is that for some reason the radar can find a buried gun, but not a radioactive substance! That should be relatively simple for the all powerful radar to pick up! You would think anyway, but no, they have to do a lot of actual police work until the end when they put radar into a chopper to find the stolen merchandise!
This made for a pretty good episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The mads kept acting like this one was going to be torturous to watch as it would eclipse 'Deep Hurting' and 'Sandstorm' as one of the more painful experiences yet. However, I do believe the rock climbing scene from "The Lost Continent" and the Hercules 'Sandstorm' were much more dragging. No wonder Mike made it through this relatively unscathed. Funny episode, the the best part about this one was the short preceding it.
So the film was like an advertisement...to much so. It actually detracted from the film. Any time the criminals would get serious someone would pop up talking about how wonderful radar was and all that. It simply makes any suspense completely and utterly disappear. Not that there was much suspense to begin with. The film is better than say, "Rocket Attack U.S.A" as it does have a semblance of a plot going on, but on the whole a very badly done film. The makers of this one were just too enamored with radar, I'm afraid.
My rating would be zero as a movie, but ten as an MST3K show. It's so dull that your attention wanders, and you can sort of get the plot after you watch the bots go after it a couple of times. These movies do have have a certain fascination, and I'd like to know more about the bland, bland cinematic world of Robert Lippert. The lives of people who went to Lippert films must have tasted like stale wheat. You can't help but wonder if the relationship of Blackie and his gal had a least some spark. While the damned "Pillbox" (Melton, dear God, it's Melton) is in a hell of his own partaking. Note the cameo of Ed Wood actor at the end. I could look up his name, but, ah... it's just too boring.
This is a Dragnet style show of cops and robbers, in this case G Men vs
Dick Tacy style crooks who steal a radioactive element used for high
tech energy or for warfare.
"Radar" is very overrated in its properties here. People from this era, that I knew of, never spoke this highly of Radar in its properties, so I don't think it was ever really as overrated as this movie makes it look.
So much for the bad Science being a product of its generation. It was Mickey Mouse Science then, as well as today.
However, since there are at least two heavily used comic relief characters in this movie, it isn't likely that it was ever meant to be "realistic". This was meant to be tongue in cheek, and a good time.
The comedy would be better if the writing was better. The actors are actually pretty good, especially the comic relief ones, but their lines are not good, even for 1950.
Still, this movie flows very well, and is easy to follow, making it much more entertaining than most modern action movies.
One can look at it as "equal time" as well, a polar opposite of what the industry tries to use for propaganda today.
Today, propaganda is very Republican, it's "don't mess with the mob" that makes most movies today, "unless you're Rambo". Most people don't have any illusions about being Rambo, so the modern movie is propaganda to keep organized and disorganized crime safe. Today's movie is meant to show that the mob is perfect.
So, it's good to have "equal time" for a change, even if one has to go back over half a century, to find equal propaganda against mobs. It certainly is more interesting this way.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film begins with a long-winded discussion about the wonderful
miracle of radar and all the wonderful ways it makes like better for
government agents. Unfortunately, most of the information is false, as
radar was old hat by the time this film came out and had very little to
do with spies. For example, you can see people at great distances like
TV--and without even a camera--all thanks to this 'radar'!! Whatever. I
personally think the film makers just happened to come up with some
stock footage of radar operators and equipment and that is THE reason
for the film's title!
The film is about g-men and I was amazed that such a subject was so boring and poorly written. The dialog was often pretty lame and I loved how they had a character named 'Blackie'--and he was a g-man actually working on the side of evil--what a HUGE surprise!! Who'd have thought that a guy named Blackie would be bad?! Well, that's the sort of lame writing this film had throughout.
I also knew it would be a bad film because Sid Melton is in it. While today he's most likely to be recognized as 'Al Monroe' from "Green Acres", Sid was a terrible comedian. And, every time I have seen him in a B-movie, the film has been just awful. I am sure he was a lovely person in real life, but on film....yuck--a sure sign of a crappy film!
Overall, the film is dull and stupid. And those are only some of the GOOD qualities!
Very strange movie that deals with g-men obsessed with RADAR. As we all know, radar is a fantastic piece of technology, but the movie doesn't seem to really be about it. It's more about long-winded speeches about a robbery and nothing more. It's quite funny, but I don't think that's how the director originally intended it to be!
Once you see Lippert, you know you're in for a slab of cinematic
Radar is your friend. It is responsible for everything good and sacred in society. No evil intentions can be hidden from the pervasive eyes of the almighty radar.
Instead of a story, you get lots of black and white shots of guys standing around, inane conversations, bleak settings and even bleaker faces. You can't even tell the good guys from the baddies....oh wait, EVERYBODY was bad in this one. I knew my eyes were viewing this horrific monstrosity despite the periods of coma induced blackouts and the experience can be compared to vacationing on the sun without SPF 5,000,000. Why the pointless scenes of helicopters flying over open roads? I cannot recall one character from this poopiefest except for inappropriately named Blackie. Oh, remember that hilarious comedian guy, Sid Melton? Because I DON'T!! Instead, his attempts at humor left scarring impressions and hopes of his quick sniper death.
You see, this one just hurts...on so many levels. Nothing happens, there's no interesting story so the useless dialogue serves no purpose. This was only an hour long! I swear Father Time was yawning during this drivel. Even Mike and the bots reel from the effects of this one. Damn that Hypno Helio Static Stasis!
This movie seems to think radar is some super weapon that can do absolutely anything. I mean, it begins with quick scene on how radar was important in World War II. While this might seem fair enough, the movie takes radar's importance to ludicrous levels. When a truck is hijacked, the government uses radar to track it down. Radar mounted on a vehicle can apparently deliver TV quality images that follow the truck like a camera (I wonder why?). You can't say a bad thing about radar in this film. Don't worry, though. The guys from MST3K came to the rescue, and made it quite enjoyable (like they always do with bad movies) with their running commentary.
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