Crime Patrol, The (1936)

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To box in the ring or to bag criminals? A simple Joe must choose!
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US / 59 minutes / bw / Mayfair, Empire Dir: Eugene Cummings Pr: Harry S. Knight Scr: Betty Burbridge Story: Arthur T. Horman Cine: Bert Longenecker Cast: Ray Walker, Geneva Mitchell, Herbert Corthell, Hooper Atchley, Wilbur Mack, Russ Clark, Max Wagner, Virginia True Boardman, Henry Roquemore, Snub Pollard, Kernan Cripps.

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Bob Neal (Walker) is an up-and-coming boxer who, despite being the genial type and fundamentally honest, sees no harm in hanging out with some pretty nasty lowlifes. One of these, Vic Santell (Mack), tells him he must throw his next fight, against a cop called Morley (uncredited), in the fourth round. Although it goes against the grain, Bob does his best to obey, but mistimes his “knockout” so that he’s saved by the bell for the end of the round. In the fifth, Morley taunts him and Bob, his dander up, delivers a knockout blow that lands the man in the hospital.

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Vic Santell (Wilbur Mack) explains to Bob (Ray Walker, right) what he wants him to do.

Vic sets two punishers on him, Lefty and Babe (both uncredited), but, hearing the racket, a detective (Cripps) arrives and arrests all three hoodlums, who’re wanted in connection with a string of robberies.

Bob’s widowed mother Kate (Boardman) wants him to become a cop, like his dad was, and even enlists Police Commissioner Joe Cullen (Corthell)—who’s either an old friend or an incipient boyfriend—to her cause. But Bob brushes off the offer—he’d rather kick around with the new gang boss who’s replaced Vic, Bennie Dean (Wagner), and Bennie’s sidekicks—notably Gyp Hoyle (Pollard), who’s a sort of wastrel gangster, always getting into unnecessary scrapes because of his ineptitude.

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Police Commissioner Cullen (Herbert Corthell) explains to Bob the advantages and drawbacks of being a cop.

But then Bob’s next bout sees him felled by his opponent, another cop, Patrolman Davis (Clark). Once he’s recovered, he learns from Davis that the cops have a swanky gymnasium and a topnotch boxing trainer—and that’s enough to make him decide to become a boy in blue after all. Besides, as he and his underground pals agree, it’ll be handy to have one of their own in the PD.

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Davis (Russ Clark), once his opponent in the ring, is partnered with Bob (Ray Walker, left) on patrol.

Naturally Bob and Davis are made partners. Soon, they get the call to investigate the stickup of an ice cream parlor. Davis takes aim at the fleeing perpetrator—Bob’s chum Gyp—but Bob deflects his aim. Davis accepts Bob’s lame explanation about it being an accident, and that’s a sort of turning point for Bob—the discovery of the bond of trust between cops.

When Bennie and his gang are cornered and take as hostages both Davis and Mary Prentiss (Mitchell), the nurse who assists Doc Simmons (Atchley) in patching up injured boxers and to whom Bob has taken a considerable shine, there’s no question of which side Bob’s now on . . .

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Nurse Prentiss (Geneva Mitchell) is not remotely interested in Bob’s blandishments. Not at first, anyway . . .

Walker played leading roles in a stack of quickies like this during the mid-1930s; The Crime Patrol was one of the last of them. Well before the end of the decade, the roles he was playing were as often as not uncredited. Even the advent of TV didn’t bring much of a revival to his career, as it did for so many other faded stars; it just gave him more bit parts to play.

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Nurse Prentiss (Geneva Mitchell) begins to reappraise Bob. Behind her is Gyp Hoyle (Snub Pollard).

The real attraction here is Snub Pollard, the Australian-born comedian who appeared alongside the likes of Harold Lloyd in the silents. The arrival of the talkies didn’t do his career any favors, but in fact he made a pretty good fist of things in both the sound roles of his I’ve seen—the other being as the pickpocket Danny in Bars of Hate (1935).

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Gyp Hoyle (Snub Pollard) phones some bad news back to the boss.

This is often listed as either a crime drama or a boxing drama, but neither term is really appropriate. Neither can it be properly regarded as a comedy thriller, because there’s almost no actual comedy in it. Instead it has a sort of relentless joviality, as expressed through the character of Bob, who’s always ready with a smile and a quip, no matter what the circumstances . . . even if the quips are entirely forgettable. As is, in all honesty, this movie, however entertaining it intermittently can be.

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4 thoughts on “Crime Patrol, The (1936)

  1. I’m interested in learning more about Snub Pollard. I’m not at all familiar with him.

    Also: Sticking up ice cream shops was a thing? There was enough cash flowing in to make it worth a jail sentence? (I’m only being half facetious. I really want to know.)

  2. Another one I have not seen, but since you basically dismiss this 59 minute shortie from the mid 30’s I need not pain myself too much. Regardless you fabulous review did have me riveted.

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