Brenda Starr, Reporter (film)

Brenda Starr, Reporter (1945) was the 25th film serial released by Columbia Pictures. It was inspired by Brenda Starr, Reporter, a popular comic strip created by Dale Messick. The title role was played by Joan Woodbury, who had similar roles in feature films for Columbia and Monogram.[1]

Brenda Starr, Reporter
Directed byWallace Fox
Produced bySam Katzman
Written byAnde Lamb
Dale Messick
George H. Plympton
StarringJoan Woodbury
Kane Richmond
Syd Saylor
Joe Devlin
Wheeler Oakman
Music byEdward J. Kay
CinematographyIra H. Morgan
Edited byCharles Henkel Jr.
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • January 26, 1945 (1945-01-26)
Running time
13 chapters
243 minutes
CountryUnited States


Daily Flash newspaper journalist Brenda Starr (Joan Woodbury), and her photographer, Chuck Allen (Syd Saylor), are assigned to cover a fire in an old house, where they discover the wounded Joe Heller (Wheeler Oakman), a mobster suspected of stealing a quarter-million-dollar payroll. The dying Heller tells Brenda that someone took his satchel of stolen money and he gives her a coded message. Kruger (Jack Ingram), the gangster who shot Heller, escapes to his gang's hideout with the bag, but discovers it is filled with paper rather than money. The gang, knowing Heller gave Brenda a coded message, makes many attempts on her life to get her to reveal where Heller hid the payroll money, but thanks to Chuck and Police Lieutenant Larry Farrel (Kane Richmond), she evades them, until Pesky (William 'Billy' Benedict), a Daily Flash office boy, succeeds in decoding the Heller message.


The only characters in the serial from the original comic strip are Brenda and her cousin Abretha; the others are all specific to the serial.


Joan Woodbury later recalled:

It was made during the war and everybody was hungry, including me. My former husband had gone off to war. I was left with a little daughter. So you grabbed anything you could grab and, believe me, you were very grateful for anything that came along. This was a 13 episode thing, in 21 days! The only reason they gave me the role was the fact I could learn dialogue fast enough to do everything in one take. The most memorable thing is, on the last night, the back of the set was one solid bar and there wasn’t an inch of space between one bottle and the next. Everybody was waiting for the wrap-up, so we could have a party! But I had 19 pages of dialogue on a telephone, with nobody talking back to me. It’s great if an actor talks back, you can at least ad lib on his ad libs. When you have nobody talking back, you’ve got nobody to ad lib you. So I’d look at a page and say, ‘Okay, let’s do it,’ pick up the phone and we’d shoot it. I shot all 19 sequences in one take, because they were going to kill me if I didn’t, with all that booze waiting; and I proceeded to get bombed after that. (Laughs) Sam, at least, realized it was cheaper to hire a stuntlady than break my leg. So I didn’t fall out of windows…I didn’t have any fun at all. (Laughs) I didn’t care to do any more serials.[2]



The serial's theatrical release date was 26 January 1945.

Home media

Brenda Starr, Reporter is one of the last sound serials to be made available commercially. For many years, the serial was considered lost, with only a single known print in the hands of a private collector. The serial was released on DVD by VCI Entertainment in March 2011.

Critical reception

Cline writes that Woodbury "managed to carry the story from one episode to another in fine style, leaving herself in jeopardy just enough to require [Richmond's] services as a rescuer each week... [she] salvaged by her beauty and charm what might have been Katzman's greatest fiasco except for Who's Guilty?"[1]

Chapter titles

  1. Hot News
  2. The Blazing Trap
  3. Taken for a Ride
  4. A Ghost Walks
  5. The Big Boss Speaks
  6. Man Hunt
  7. Hideout of Terror
  8. Killer at Large
  9. Dark Magic
  10. A Double-cross Backfires
  11. On the Spot
  12. Murder at Night
  13. The Mystery of the Payroll


See also


  1. Cline, William C. (1984). "5. A Cheer for the Champions (The Heroes and Heroines)". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 95. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  3. Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 240. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
Preceded by
Black Arrow (1944)
Columbia Serial
Brenda Starr, Reporter (1945)
Succeeded by
The Monster and the Ape (1945)
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