US naval officer Don Winslow is given command of the islands near Pearl Harbor. He discovers that there is a ring of saboteurs and enemy agents who are trying to destroy ships carrying ... See full summary »
I remember seeing Don Winslow Of The Navy several decades ago on television which was running these old serials as feature films. What I could not get then and now is why Don Winslow and his trusty sidekick Red Pennington were always in their dress whites. In fact all the naval officers portrayed were in dress whites. Even Samuel S. Hinds as the CINC. No khakis, no navy blue. Even I knew back then that these uniforms made the whole thing look ridiculous.
Don Winslow Of The Navy began as an almost official comic strip. It was written by a navy man Commander Frank Martinek and it was actually something the navy used as a recruiting tool. Frank Knox who was Alf Landon's Vice Presidential running mate and newspaper publisher and later Secretary Of The Navy was a booster of the strip.
Winslow's nemesis like Batman to Joker or Nayland Smith to Fu Manchu is the infamous Scorpion. No sooner does Winslow squash one bit of Scorpion villainy then the guy is active in another part of the world.
Fortunately for this Universal serial the Scorpion is played by Kurt Katch who played many a nasty Nazi in the coming years. The fact that the serial was released just prior to Pearl Harbor was a godsend for the box office. All we see of Katch is a face giving out orders and threatening reprisals for failure in telecommunication. Wonder what his recruiting pitch for henchman was?
Don Terry plays the title role and Walter Sande is Red Pennington. A couple of women girl Fridays for the guys are Claire Dodd and Anne Nagel respectively. Winslow and Pennington are sent to investigate Scorpion activity in the South Pacific on the tropical isle paradise of Tangita where John Litel operates a gold mine by day, but he's really the Scorpion's guy on the ground.
The Scorpion has quite an operation. He's got an underground submarine base complete with underground oil wells for fueling. He also must refine the stuff underground as well, but that's not mentioned. From this place he's sinking all kinds of supply ships and other kinds of freighting in the Pacific.
We never really do know just what the Scorpion's ultimate aim is or is he just your garden variety megalomaniacal supervillain. I lean to the latter, but that Teutonic countenance of Katch made him perfect for the time.
The cast performs their parts completely straight though I can't believe they took all this seriously. There are a lot of people still out there who love these old serials. For me I'm glad the movie going public matured in its tastes enough to put these finally to rest.