Brenda Starr is rallying in its last third–A Double-Cross Backfires is a solid serial chapter. Sure, Joan Woodbury gets interviewing and kidnapped duty, but there’s some good action and some actual suspense.
The chapter opens in Marion Burns’s house–rigged for her psychic scam–and no one except Burns can find their way through it. Lots of curtains, false walls, all sorts of stuff. Perfect location for a thrilling shootout, even if Fox’s direction is boring.
And Burns is rather good. She’s underutilized, but at least she’s underutilized in a supporting role as opposed to Woodbury, who’s underutilized in the ostensible lead part.
The action scene has Kane Richmond chasing a bad guy’s cab and then climbing a roof to duke it out with him. Again, not great direction from Fox, but good enough to get it through. Richmond’s still a condescending jackass overall, however.
Maybe the most salient factor in the rallying is Ernie Adams. He’s a stoolie who all of a sudden has a bunch more to do. Adams knows how to act a scene where the director isn’t going to give him anything. He’s a delight.
So, Backfires doesn’t.
I just wish Brenda Starr had this level of energy and inventiveness (and the strong supporting cast–not the tiresome cops and newspaper sidekicks) throughout.
Directed by Wallace Fox; screenplay by Ande Lamb and George H. Plympton, based on the comic strip by Dale Messick; director of photography, Ira H. Morgan; edited by Charles Henkel Jr.; music by Edward J. Kay; produced by Sam Katzman; released by Columbia Pictures.
Starring Joan Woodbury (Brenda Starr), Kane Richmond (Lt. Larry Farrell), Syd Saylor (Chuck Allen), George Meeker (Frank Smith), Wheeler Oakman (Heller), Cay Forester (Vera Harvey), Marion Burns (Zelda), Lottie Harrison (Abretha), Ernie Adams (Charlie), Jack Ingram (Kruger), Anthony Warde (Muller), John Merton (Joe Schultz), William ‘Billy’ Benedict (Pesky), and Joe Devlin (Sgt. Tim Brown).