Victory 1937 / 15 Chapters / British Crime Melodrama
Source: Silent serial Blake of Scotland Yard (1927)
Hero: Sir James Blake (Herbert Rawlinson)
His Pal: Jerry Sheehan (Ralph “Dick Tracy” Byrd)
Leading Lady: Hope Mason (Joan Barclay)
Mystery Villain: The Scorpion
MacGuffin: A death ray
Supporting Cast: Lloyd Hughes, Dickie Jones, Herman Brix, Nick Stuart,
Lucille Lund, Sam Flint, Gail Newbury, Jimmy Aubrey
Directed by: Robert Hill
In this sound update of a popular silent serial of a decade earlier, Jerry Sheehan (Ralph Byrd) and Hope Mason perfect a death ray that retired Scotland Yard inspector Blake (silent serial star Herbert Rawlinson) hopes will end wars. When a clawed mystery-rogue called the Scorpion makes off with the cumbersome and dangerous device, "Jimmy" Blake comes out of retirement and enlists Jerry’s help to catch him ‑‑ through ingenuity, amusing disguises, and plain old fisticuffs. Blake of Scotland Yard represents a passing on of the serial-hero mantle from silent star Herbert Rawlinson to future sound serial hero Ralph Byrd, who would become famous as Dick Tracy. Dickie Jones, who voiced the title character in Disney’s feature Pinocchio, was one of the youngest children to appear in a principal role in a serial, plays a sort of junior Sherlock Holmes here who participates enthusiastically in the action.
This early Sam Katzman production is a wonderful period piece which includes all the required elements for a successful cliffhanger -- an interesting macguffin in the “death ray,” a lurking caped fiend whose true identity is unknown, handsome hero, and lots of twists and turns and onscreen action. Its worst feature is variation in camera exposure in some sequences which appear to have been in the original release (and we suspect may have been originally toned blue), and some ragged old busker in a lady’s wig and rags playing an incognito crook wandering the streets asking “for a copper!”
The mystery villain, the first of several cliffhanger mystery villains to be called “The Scorpion,” hasn’t quite got it all together and is fairly easily and laughably tricked by the heroes a few times but at least he was smart enough to hire Herman “Tarzan” Brix as a henchman, who is almost unrecognizable with his huge scar and eyepatch.
The action ranges from Mallow Hall in (supposedly) England to Paris, where our heroes run afoul of a murderous Apache dancer and foreign spies, all after the secret of the “death ray” which will end all wars.
Sourced from a new high-quality digital transfer of a rare well-worn but original film print from the 1940s, with restored picture and audio. This serial in original form is extremely rare if not impossible to find; this may actually be the best source print of the complete chapter play in existence.
The release date for this serial was delayed a bit to allow for improvement of picture quality through stabilization of the image (which we didn’t think we were going to have to do!), a time-consuming process but which is worth the results in enhanced watchability.
This is the first and likely will be the only release of this serial title on DVD. Rumors of another DVD company intending to release another edition of this serial are erroneous; we’ve got this rarity right here at the Squadron, and you just found it.
Chapter Titles: 1: Mystery of the Blooming Gardenia 2: Death in the Laboratory 3: Cleared Mysteries 4: The Mystery of the Silver Fox 5: Death in the River 6: The Criminal Shadow 7: Face to Face 8: The Fatal Trap 9: Parisian House Tops 10: Battle Royal 11: The Burning Fuse 12: The Roofs of Lime House 13: The Sting of the Scorpion 14: The Scorpion Unmasked 15: The Trap is Sprung
2-Disk Collector's Set includes All 15 Chapters Theatrical trailer