The Mystery Squadron

The Mystery Squadron (aka Mystery Squadron) is a 1933 American pre-Code 12-chapter Mascot film serial, directed by Colbert Clark and David Howard.[1] The film was produced by Nat Levine, and stars Western star Bob Steele, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Lucile Browne, Purnell Pratt and Jack Mulhall.[2] Mascot Pictures, in The Mystery Squadron made an impressive serial using a great deal of aerial footage to enliven the action. [N 1]

The Mystery Squadron
Directed byColbert Clark
David Howard
Produced byNat Levine
Written bySherman L. Lowe
Al Martin
Barney A. Sarecky
Colbert Clark
David Howard
Wyndham Gittens
StarringBob Steele
Guinn "Big Boy" Williams
Lucile Browne
Jack Mulhall
Purnell Pratt
Music byLee Zahler
CinematographyErnest Miller
William Nobles
Alvin Wyckoff
Edited byWyndham Gittens
Earl Turner
Distributed byMascot Pictures
Release date
  • December 22, 1933 (1933-12-22) (U.S.)
Running time
12 chapters (220 min)
CountryUnited States


At an air show, ace flyers Fred Cromwell (Bob Steele) and his partner, Bill "Jelly Bean" Cook (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams) perform aerial feats that prove they are the greatest aviators around. A dam being built by Stephen Gray (Lafe McKee), the owner of a construction firm, comes under attack from the mysterious pilot, the "Black Ace", and his "Mystery Squadron" of pilots. With Gray facing financial ruin, he asks Henry Davis (Jack Mulhall), the dam foreman and ex-stunt pilot to hire Fred and Bill.

The identity of the Black Ace is so secret that it is even concealed from his own men in the Mystery Squadron. Fred and his partner, Bill seek to identify the Black Ace and stop his attacks on Gray's construction of the power dam. The Mystery Squadron is headquartered in a secret cave near the dam.

A rich gold mine is threatened by the dam's construction and a number of individuals behave suspiciously, including Lafe Johnson (Purnell Pratt), a rival contractor, Martin (Edward Peil, Sr.), the hotel owner, Collins (J. Carrol Naish), a construction employee for Gray and Dr. Flint (Robert Frazer). When the Mystery Squadron strikes again, Fred finds Davis tied up in his car. Davis explains he has been held captive by the raiders.

Fred and Bill finally confront Davis with evidence that he is the Black Ace. Davis panics and takes off in his aircraft only to be shot down by Fred and his partner.

Chapter titles

  1. The Black Ace
  2. The Fatal Warning
  3. The Black Ace Strikes
  4. Men of Steel
  5. The Death Swoop
  6. Doomed
  7. Enemy Signals
  8. The Canyon of Calamity
  9. The Secret of the Mine
  10. Clipped Wings
  11. The Beast at Bay
  12. The Ace of Aces




Up to four Travel Air 2000s, commonly known as the "Wichita Fokker", a popular aircraft used in Hollywood features, were used in various aerial sequences. Most of the attacks by air, however, were shot with miniatures on diorama sets.[5]



Hans J. Wollstein in his review of The Mystery Squadron wrote, "... Mystery Squadron contains many well-made aerial fights and stunts but is also filled with all kinds of silly and seemingly unnecessary gaffes. When a dart carrying a warning note is thrown through a window, for example, that same window is shown in the following shot as not only securely closed but covered by an undamaged lace curtain." and ".. (a) supposedly comical craving for jellybeans quickly becomes tiring." [6]

See also



  1. Despite Mascot's relatively meagre budgets, by the 1930s, along with Universal Pictures, the lowly "poverty row" studio dominated serials.[3]


  1. Wynne 1987, p. 129.
  2. Weiss and Goodgold 1973, p. 41.
  3. Weiss and Goodgold 1973, p. I.
  4. Cline 1984, p. 209.
  5. "Travelaire D4000." Walter Matthews Jefferies' Aviation Photographs (MS-344), Wright State University, 2019. Retrieved: July 9, 2019.
  6. Wollstein, Hans J. "Review: 'The Mystery Squadron'.", 2019. Retrieved: July 9, 2019.


  • Cline, William C. "3. The Six Faces of Adventure". 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. The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. London: Routledge, 1973. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
  • Weiss, Ken and Ed Goodgold. To be Continued ...: A Complete Guide to Motion Picture Serials. New York: Bonanza Books, 1973. ISBN 0-517-166259.
  • Wynne, H. Hugh. The Motion Picture Stunt Pilots and Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1987. ISBN 0-933126-85-9.
Preceded by
The Wolf Dog (1933)
Mascot Serial
The Mystery Squadron (1933)
Succeeded by
The Lost Jungle (1934)

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