Gang Busters (serial)

Gang Busters is a 1942 Universal movie serial based on the radio series Gang Busters.

Gang Busters
Directed byNoel M. Smith
Ray Taylor
Jacques Jaccard (asst.)
Produced byFord Beebe
Written byMorgan Cox
Phillips Lord
Al Martin
Victor McLeod
George H. Plympton
StarringKent Taylor
Irene Hervey
Ralph Morgan
Robert Armstrong
CinematographyJohn W. Boyle
William A. Sickner
Edited byIrving Birnbaum
Paul Landres
Charles Maynard
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • 1942 (1942)
Running time
13 chapters (251 minutes)
CountryUnited States


The city is terrorized by a crime wave masterminded by the elusive, soft-spoken Professor Mortis (Ralph Morgan) from his base in a forgotten cavern beneath the rails of the city's subway line. Following the murder of his brother, police detective Bill Bannister (Kent Taylor), his partner Tim Nolan (Robert Armstrong), and police chief Martin O'Brien (Joseph Crehan) focus investigation on the activities of Mortis and his gang, and discover that the crimes were all perpetrated by men who had died some time ago, with new identities and kept alive by a formula of Mortis's invention. Following the story is journalist Vicki Logan (Irene Hervey) and her photographer 'Happy' Haskins (Richard Davies).





  • Pat O'Malley as the Police Scientist
  • Beatrice Roberts as the Chief's Secretary
  • Riley Hill as Jim Bannister (Ch. 1)
  • Unknown Actor as Henchman Jake Jordan (Ch. 1)
  • Eddie Dean as Blair, ballistics expert (Chs. 1, 6)
  • Eddie Foster as Henchman Jerry Rogan (Chs. 3-4)
  • Unknown Actor as Henchman Batty Simms (Ch. 4)
  • Stanley Price as Henchman Corky Watts (Chs. 4-5)
  • Mickey Simpson as Bruiser, Ludoc's bouncer (Ch. 7)
  • Karl Hackett as Henry, crooked watchman (Chs. 7-8)
  • Phil Warren as Henchman McKay (Chs. 8-9)
  • Jack Mulhall as Chemist Richards (Chs. 9, 11)
  • Jerry Jerome as Henchman Soupy Collins (Chs. 10-11)
  • Paul McVey as Attorney J.B. "Harry" Malloy (Ch. 12)


Gang Busters is one of Universal's most elaborate serials, with many chase and thrill scenes expertly staged in outdoor locations. The directors were Ray Taylor, veteran director responsible for many hit serials, and Noel M. Smith, former silent-screen director who specialized in fast action (Smith directed many of Larry Semon's action-filled comedies of the 1920s).

This is mostly a crime film but contains a small science fiction element. The villains, The League of Murdered Men, are all dead criminals killed and revived by Professor Mortis using his own mysterious poison.[1]

Critical reception

The film was very successful in its original release, and was re-released in 1949 by Sherman S. Krellberg's Filmcraft Productions.

Within serial fandom, Jim Harmon and Donald F. Glut in the 1970s described Gang Busters as a "well made and interesting serial.",[1] and Cline in 1984 wrote that he considered the serial is one of Universal's best[2] and that Professor Mortis is one of the best characters ever created for a serial.[3]

Chapter titles

  1. The League of Murdered Men
  2. The Death Plunge
  3. Murder Blockade
  4. Hangman's Noose
  5. Man Undercover
  6. Under Crumbling Walls
  7. The Water Trap
  8. Murder by Proxy
  9. Gang Bait
  10. Mob Vengeance
  11. Wanted at Headquarters
  12. The Long Chance
  13. Law and Order


See also


  1. Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "8. The Detectives "Gangbusters!"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
  2. Cline, William C. (1984). "5. A Cheer for the Champions (The Heroes and Heroines)". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 89. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  3. Cline, William C. (1984). "7. Masters of Menace (The Villains)". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 108. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  4. Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 232. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
Preceded by
Don Winslow of the Navy (1942)
Universal Serial
Gang Busters (1942)
Succeeded by
Junior G-Men of the Air (1942)
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.