Tailspin Tommy (serial)

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Tailspin Tommy
Tailspin Tommy (serial).jpg
Directed by Lew Landers
Produced by Milton Gatzert
Henry MacRae (associate)
Written by Ella O'Neill
Vin Moore
Basil Dickey
Norman S. Hall
Robert Hershon
George H. Plympton
Hal Forrest (comic strip)
Starring Maurice Murphy
Noah Beery, Jr.
Patricia Farr
Walter Miller
Grant Withers
Cinematography Richard Fryer
William A. Sickner
Edited by Albert Akst
Irving Applebaum
Saul A. Goodkind
Edward Todd
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • October 29, 1934 (1934-10-29)
Running time 12 chapters (248 min)
Country United States
Language English

Tailspin Tommy (1934) is a 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, 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.



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.[1][2] 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.[3]


Critical reception[edit]

Tailspin Tommy was a success, partly due to name recognition.[2]

Chapter titles[edit]

  1. Death Flies the Mail
  2. The Mail Goes Through
  3. Sky bandits
  4. The Copper Room
  5. The Night Flight
  6. The Baited Trap
  7. Tommy to the Rescue
  8. The Thrill of Death
  9. The Earth God's Roar
  10. Death at the Controls
  11. Rushing Waters
  12. Littleville's Big Day



  1. ^ Stedman, Raymond William. "3. At This Theater Next Week". Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-8061-0927-5. 
  2. ^ a b Cline, William C. "2. In Search of Ammunition". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 15, 18. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X. 
  3. ^ Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut. "7. The Aviators "Land That Plane at Once, You Crazy Fool"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9. 
  4. ^ Cline, William C. "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 211. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X. 

External links[edit]