THE SUBJECT MATTER and tone of RED BARRY widely deviates with the sci-fi base others and even though its plot lines do get a trifle fanciful and far-fetched, it still maintains a felling of contact with reality. The hero,a plainclothes Detective for an unnamed City's Police Department, was a rugged loaner, who managed to get all of the biggest and toughest assignments.
THE TONE AND scenario of the 13 chapters manages to remain faithful to this format and does so by honoring the time tested elements of the "Chapter Play", "the Cliff-Hanger" and any and all types of serialized fiction then popular in all of the weekly magazines. It also keeps the setting right up to date with its inclusion of the conflicts that plagued China from Imperial Japan in the 1930's.
HAVING DESIGNATED AS the central items of interest and corpus delecti of the major crime in the story, the writer/director team has a million dollars worth of bonds, sent via Currier by Nationalist Chinese (Chiang Kai Shek) to America in order to purchase weapons for defense. Well the poor bonds got stolen, recovered and re-stolen countless times in the course of the 13 Chapters, all with Undercover Detective Red Barry's being in hot pursuit. Red manages to shoot, get knocked unconscious, crash several cars, survive fall from a freight train and even gets suspended from the force by the commissioner.
THE SERIAL MAY seem a little "old hat" and dated, particularly in its lack of "Political Correctness" that we are so steeped in today. With regard to its characters of Oriental race, they are treated as very foreign. Even those who are American seem to be very apart. Characters fro the comic strip share this condition with such names as "Hong Kong Cholly (not Charlie) and some of the big shot gang leaders.
THAT THE POPULARITY of thc Red Barry Comic Strip was very high would seem to be a no brainer. It was widely read and distributed by the syndicate (Hearst's King Features) to warrant adaption to the screen. That meant Big Buck$ would travel from Universal to King Features. butits popularity with the public and successes all came to a halt shortly after the release of the serial.
IT SEEMS THAT financial considerations between creator Will Gould and the people at King Features led to his departure and the last case for RED BARRY. Mr. Gould then became a screenwriter and successfully remained so for his lifetime.
WE ENJOYED OUR viewing of this serial, particularly because Turner Classic Movies ran it the old fashioned way, one chapter a week. This brought us back and, thanks to our DVR, we still have all the chapters.
IT HAS BEEN said that Buster Crabbe had felt very self conscious about having his hair bleached blonde for his role of Flash Gordon. Although the serials are in glorious B & W, it does appear that they turned his hair Red for the role. (on this matter we can speak with some authority as this writer (me) is a born and bred redhead.
IN CONCLUSION, WE recommend it for your viewing; if only to see a redheaded Buster without a ray gun or Emperor Ming.
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