Tailspin Tommy (serial)
|Directed by||Lew Landers|
|Produced by||Milton Gatzert
Henry MacRae (associate)
|Written by||Ella O'Neill (screenplay)
Norman S. Hall
George H. Plympton
Hal Forrest (comic strip)
Noah Beery, Jr.
William A. Sickner
|Edited by||Albert Akst
Saul A. Goodkind
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|12 chapters (248 min)|
Tailspin Tommy is a 12-episode 1934 Universal film serial based on the Tailspin Tommy comic strip by Hal Forrest. It was the 97th serial of the 137 released by that studio (and the 24th with sound). The plot concerns a conflict over a government airmail contract.
Two cargo airlines clash over a government mail contract. "Tailspin" Tommy (Maurice Murphy), a young mechanic, gets a job with Three Points Airlines, who win the contract. Their opponents resort to sabotage in order to have the contact for themselves. Wade "Tiger" Taggart (John Davidson) becomes their enemy, a man who will do anything to stop the airline from doing business.
After Tommy becomes a pilot, he prevents a runaway aircraft from crashing into a crow of children, among other adventures that put him into the public eye. Eventually Taggert and his gang are brought to justice. Tommy goes on to win a movie contract, and win the heart of his sweetheart Betty Lou Barnes (Patricia Farr).
- Death Flies the Mail
- The Mail Goes Through
- Sky bandits
- The Copper Room
- The Night Flight
- The Baited Trap
- Tommy to the Rescue
- The Thrill of Death
- The Earth God's Roar
- Death at the Controls
- Rushing Waters
- Littleville's Big Day
- Maurice Murphy as "Tailspin" Tommy Tompkins
- Noah Beery, Jr. as Peter "Skeeter" Milligan
- Patricia Farr as Betty Lou Barnes
- Walter Miller as Bruce Hoyt
- Grant Withers as Milt Howe
- Charles A. Browne as Paul Smith
- Bryant Washburn as Mr Grant, director of Midnight Patrol
- Belle Daube as Mrs Martha Tompkins, Tommy's mother
- John Davidson as Wade "Tiger" Taggart
- Harrison Greene as the Air circus announcer
- William Desmond as Sloane, Taggart's office henchman
- Lew Kelly as Victor Martin, Three Point airport dispatcher
- John Ince as Eric Peabody, one of Taggart's henchmen
- Lee Beggs as Deacon Grimes
- Ethan Laidlaw as Bart Dirk, one of Taggart's henchmen
Tailspin Tommy was the first serial to be based on a comic strip. From 1936 to 1945, Universal almost made more serial adaptations of comic strips than both of their rivals, Columbia and Republic, combined. Jimmy Allen was a rival radio serial character to the Tailspin Tommy newspaper strip. He featured in the film Sky Parade. Grant Withers played the sidekick in this film as well as both Tailspin Tommy serials.
- George DeNormand
- George Magrill
Tailspin Tommy was a success, partly due to name recognition.
- Weiss and Goodgold 1973, p. 55.
- Cline 1984, p. 211.
- Stedman 1971, p. 65.
- Cline 1984, pp. 15, 18.
- Harmon and Glut 1973, p. 143.
- Cline, William C. "2. In Search of Ammunition". In the Nick of Time. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1984. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
- Cline, William C. "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1984. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
- Harmon, Jim and Donald F. Glut. "7. The Aviators "Land That Plane at Once, You Crazy Fool"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. London: Routledge, 1973. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
- Stedman, Raymond William. "3. At This Theater Next Week". Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press, 1971. ISBN 978-0-8061-0927-5.
- Weiss, Ken and Ed Goodgold. To be Continued ...: A Complete Guide to Motion Picture Serials. New York: Bonanza Books, 1973. ISBN 0-517-166259.