A while back, I spent a whopping $5 on this 50-movie set, Sci-fi Invasion. That adds up to 10 cents per movie. Trapped by Television is a movie about television… made in 1936?!?
Here’s what happens: Our hero is a bill collector who longs to make it big as an inventor. He’s developed a fascinating new technology: Television! Too bad for him that some sinister gangster have learned of this wondrous new device and are out to steal it.
Speculative spectacle: So what did people in 1936 think of television? Based on this movie, TV monitors existed, but it was rare to actually see one in action. At one point, during a high-stakes business meeting, everyone negotiates a big-money deal to provide a huge company with an astounding twelve televisions. Twelve!
Sleaze factor: None. Curse you, Hayes Code!
Quantum quotables: “That’s not a television. I’ve seen pictures of televisions in my radio magazines!”
What the felgercarb? One of the evil gangsters has a thing for blow darts. Sure, why not?
Microcosmic minutiae: The movie stars Mary Astor as the love interest. She is most famous for her role in The Maltese Falcon, but actually had a long and varied career, successfully making the leap from silent films to the “talkies.” It also stars Lyle Talbot (no relation to Larry?) who is most well-known for being a regular on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
Worth ten cents? For as much as love to talk about this era as the golden age of Hollywood, the truth is a lot of movies from this are still beholden to live theater. Too often in 1930s films, director just plants the camera down in front a room and lets the actors go at it in a single wide or medium shot, and that’s the case here. It’s quaint, but that’s about it.
Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.