The Spy Ring


1h 1m 1938

Brief Synopsis

The absence of stagecoaches and covered wagons didn't keep director Joseph H. "Wagon Wheel" Lewis from employing his usual camera set-ups of shooting scenes from behind and through various props and fixtures, and the inclusion of a polo game enabled him to get his usual "hitching post" shot, in addition to shooting over and through automobile hood ornaments, champange bottles, baloons and mirror reflections. The soure that dubbed this one in the "musical" genre obviously never saw the film, as there are no songs and only a rinky-dink piece of music used at the Officer's Club dance. This one is about a gang of independent spys after a cigar-shaped device that guarantees accuracy on artillery and large weapons. The spys are headed by Paul Douglas (LeRoy Mason), Jean Bruce (Esther Ralston billed as Jane Carleton) and Frank Denton (Leon Ames), while Captain Todd Hayden (William Hall, in one of his rare starring roles and actually solo- billed above the title) is the protector of the device, and in love with the Colonel's daughter, Elaine Burdette (Jane Wyman, at the peak of her cute, bubbly and pouty stage.) Most of the action is placed at the Presido in Montery and most of it revolves around the outcome of a polo match between the Cavalry team and a civilian team called "The Rainbows", which star player Hayden has to throw in order to catch the spys.

Film Details

Also Known As
International Spy
Release Date
Jan 9, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "International Team" by Frank Van Wyck Mason in Argosy (18 May 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 1m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

The new top-secret CQ rotating machine gun is demonstrated in target practice by cavalry captains Todd Hayden and Robert Scott. After returning to his Washington, D.C. apartment, Scott finds Mrs. Jean Bruce, a widow, steaming open an official letter. Moments later, Todd finds Scott dead, and military officials announce his demise as an accidental death. Colonel A. R. Bowen of Military Intelligence orders Todd to return to his regiment in Monterey to continue Scott's experiments and capture enemy agents. When he arrives in Monterey, Todd is immediately placed on the 19th Cavalry's polo team to even the odds for a game on which the whole regiment has wagered heavily. In addition, Todd reignites his old romance with Elaine Burdette, the daughter of the commanding officer, and meets Frank Denton, a friend of Mrs. Bruce's and leader of the opposing team. At a dinner dance, Todd leaves Elaine with Denton and turns his attentions to Mrs. Bruce. Corporal Timothy O'Reilly, who has been assigned to keep Todd in shape for the tournament, gets drunk while imbibing the liquor Mrs. Bruce pours for Todd. Feigning intoxication, Todd secures Denton's fingerprint. Suspecting Denton of a double-cross, Mrs. Bruce lends the army eight champion Argentine polo ponies to insure a victory. O'Reilly alerts Todd to suspicious movements by Denton and Mrs. Bruce, and an automobile chase ensues. Todd succeeds in capturing the chauffeur, who finally talks after being threatened with a firing squad. While the Cavalry plays the Rainbows at Meadowbrook Field, Todd forces Mrs. Bruce into revealing her scheme by allowing Denton to win. The fingerprints then reveal that Denton is a former machine gun sergeant who escaped from Leavenworth Prison in 1924. Soon after, Denton is found dead by Todd, who is taken prisoner, along with Elaine, by Mrs. Bruce and a confederate. While dismissing O'Reilly, Todd slips him the secret machine gun firing pin. With the improved machine gun, O'Reilly and post detective Don Mayhew prevent Mrs. Bruce and her captives from escaping in an airplane across the border.

Film Details

Also Known As
International Spy
Release Date
Jan 9, 1938
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "International Team" by Frank Van Wyck Mason in Argosy (18 May 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 1m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was International Spy. As noted in the Film Daily review, Jane Carleton was a pseudonym for Esther Ralston; however, although Esther Ralston can be identified on screen, and is credited in the Variety review, this film is not included in her autobiography or modern filmographies for the actress. Reviews were almost unanimously negative: Variety called the film "trivial," while New York Times called it a "laborious and dreary tale," and devoted the body of the review to a review of the cartoon that preceded the film.