Dick Barton at Bay (1950)
Directed by: Godfrey Grayson
Written by: Ambrose Grayson, Emma Trechman, Godfrey Grayson, Jackson Budd, Ted Kavanagh
Starring: Don Stannard, George Ford, Meinhart Maur, Tamara Desni
AVAILABLE ON DVD
RUNNING TIME: 68 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
An undercover agent is being chased. He places a call to Dick Barton, but is shot just as Dick gets on the phone. The agent had been assigned to protect Professor Mitchell, who is working on a new death ray weapon. Unfortunately, before Dick can get to him, evil enemy agents break into his home and kidnap the Professor, his daughter, and his invention. Dick and his companion Snowey set out to find the ray before it can be used against Britain….
Now this is where it gets a bit confusing. Dick Barton At Bay was released as the third in the series of films featuring the popular radio hero, and the R2 Icon DVD set makes it out to be the third film too. Actually, it’s the second, but Hammer decided that the third film was better and released it first. They were right. This first sequel is ery different from the first film, which had been criticised by adult fans of the character for dumbing things down for kids. It’s almost entirely serious [well, it tries to be entirely serious] and is also a bit more professionally made. The film flows reasonably well, but unfortunately the print used on the DVD ranges from quite good to downright terrible, with some scenes so grainy it looks like you’re watching two films [which may go some way to explaining why I couldn’t find any decent-sized pictures]. Also, neither are very good, so I can’t really say that Dick Barton At Bay is worth somebody taking the time and effort to restore!
In fact, this episode is just plain dull, at least until you get to the final fighting in a lighthouse. The simple plot ought to at least have created some tension, but it’s just mostly lots of dull plodding around at a snail’s pace that seems padded out even at the short length that it is. The opening killing is well shot and it seems like we’re in for a bit of serial-like fun, but this is just not the case. At least Don Stannard has sunk into the title role, almost the perfect English Gentleman Hero. You get to hear more of Devil’s Gallop, which is always good, but really there’s not much else to say about this film – it’s just highly uninteresting and not very entertaining. All three Dick Barton films were box office successes though and after the release of this one Hammer planned many more, the first one to be called Dick Barton In Darkest Africa. However, coming home from a cast party to celebrate the release of Dick Barton Strikes Back, Stannard crashed the car he was driving and was killed instantly. Hammer promptly cancelled the series and looked around for something else.