12 October 2008 | howdymax
Hide and Seek - Monogram Style
This is the kind of low rent movie Monogram was justifiably famous for when they weren't making no budget westerns. Secret agents, secret passages, etc.
This one has to do with a government project to control ships at sea with a radio control device called S505. In order to test the device, the scientific team installs it in a cruise ship with the cooperation of the captain and his staff. This was 1934 and we didn't actually have an enemy, so Monogram created a "foreign power" as the antagonist, and installed a couple of agents aboard the ship to steal the main component of the device and sabotage the experiment. We spend the rest of the picture trying to figure out who is who - and there really are secret passages.
Monogram, as was their practice, cast this picture with fading stars and familiar character actors. This effort stars Noah Beery although he only shows up at the beginning and end of the show. The real "star" is Edwin Maxwell, supported by George Cleveland and Gustav Von Seyffertitz. You get the picture.
I won't go any further into the story. It is a pretty formulaic spy yarn you could find on any double bill in any cheap theater back in the old days. But there are those of us that really love them. In fact, although I live in New Mexico, I recently made a pilgrimage to Hollywood. Not for the usual reasons, but to track back the homes and locations of my favorite old time actors and the locations of all those Poverty Row studios of the day. I actually found the original office address of Monogram at the wrong end of Sunset Blvd. I'm afraid most devotees would be disappointed to find that the actual address is occupied by a take out chicken joint. The sound stages across the street are now occupied by what appears to be a television station. I didn't care. I was standing on hallowed ground. I could imagine "The Duke", (whose ranch location I also visited in Encino) driving through the gate in his Chrysler Phantom.
The movie has a predictable ending, but the trip there is still entertaining. I have a brother who probably wouldn't appreciate it because it doesn't have a message, it doesn't have a basso thematic orchestration with all the bells and gongs, and it doesn't excite the viewer with sweeping visual images. But for the rest of us peasants, it rounds out the weekend just like grilled bratwurst, potato salad and beer.