Holt Of The Secret
Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Chapters: B-
Though more of a “police authority” adventure than
anything we would think of as Spy genre fiction, Holt Of The Secret Service
was Columbia’s patriotic pro-USA chapter play as real life officer Jack Holt is
an embellished action version of himself, doing what he can to break a
counterfeiting ring. A comparison of
this to William Friedkin’s 1985 classic To Live & Die In L.A.
(reviewed elsewhere on this site) may seem like a stretch, but counterfeiting
stories changed little until that film and this is amusing on its own in all
kinds of ways.
Can Holt pretend to be a criminal long enough to penetrate
the ring? Can we believe Holt at all if
his acting is a tad counterfeit itself?
Though they can be funny, who can win the contest for being the most
serious in the battle situations otherwise?
If it had any more humor, The Three stooges would have shown up
early. Evelyn Brent is Kay drew, the
“tough broad” who might be able to help Holt break the case. Points to the screenplay by Basil Dickey,
George Plympton and Wyndham Gittens for allowing the funny dialogue (intended
or not) to steal the show. That is
reason alone to watch this particular serial.
James W. Horne does a fine directing job, keeping the pace going. Columbia always speeds up the film in fight
scenes, which they do here well. The
cliffhangers are mixed and Holt himself seems awkward at times on camera. Reality TV has nothing on this and the voiceover
host makes this nearly insane. You have
got to see some of this to believe it.
The 1.33 X 1 full frame image is not bad for its age, the
15 chapters looking good also thanks to the camerawork of James S. Brown, Jr.,
A.S.C., who catches all the action nicely.
These look good in part as they are TV prints struck when the original
materials were in prime shape. The
Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also not bad, with the same stock music played over
and over. It is a fun combo. Extras include four biography sections on
the cast and director, plus a general preview of VCI serials on DVD 1, while
DVD 2 has four trailers for four exciting action serials we can only hope VCI
will get to issue. Until then, Holt
Of The Secret Service is worth a look if you want some laughs and see how
Columbia kept a serial going.
- Nicholas Sheffo