3 film, 3 disc
collection of early spy films from Hammer Studios. DD
Video R2 UK boxset.
In 1946, Britain was in a
post-war depression and needed a hero - thus in October 1946 began the
first BBC radio broadcast of Dick Barton: Special Agent.
The show had massive popularity, with up to 15 million listeners at its
peak. Meanwhile, Exclusive Pictures, the distribution arm of Hammer
films, needed to shoot some low budget pictures - in an attempt to keep
the flailing British film industry alive, a law at the time insisted on
a British picture to accompany every American import. Going with
familiar themes, they secured the rights to several popular BBC radio
shows including PC 49
and Dick Barton. The
policy of basing films on popular radio and TV shows would sustain
Hammer throughout the 1950s.
Many have compared the
Dick Barton films to the later James Bond movies, and they
do share many elements, in particular the tendancy of the bad-guys to
repeatedly put Barton in escapable death situations instead of just
shooting him and explaining their entire plan to him. As per the radio
serial, there are dozens of cliffhangers in each film and Barton and
co. are often forced to escape from impossible situations.
Curiously, the second film in
the series, Dick Barton
filmed in early 1948, was not released at the time of its shooting and
instead production went ahead on the third film Dick Barton
which was released in mid-1949. Tragically, Barton actor Don Stannard
was killed in a car crash driving home from the launch party and Hammer
cancelled their plans for a fourth film Dick Barton
in Deepest Africa
- instead releasing their stored film Dick Barton
at Bay in
Although the Dick Barton trilogy
contains few similarities to Hammer's
later, famous horror pictures, it did mark the first appearance of
Jimmy Sangster as 'second assistant director', he would stay with the
company until the 1970s as a script writer on many of their most well known
All films are in Original Aspect
Ratios (1.33:1) and Black and White. See notes on DVDs for
picture quality information.
have original English mono
tracks. See notes on DVDs for audio quality information.
No extras are included on the
discs. Boxset includes an interesting and well researched 36
page booklet with information on the films and the original radio shows.
A VHS size DVD case with two
compartments. No single disc releases.
Region 2 - PAL
known releases of the films elsewhere.
All films are believed to be fully
uncut. Prints are English langauge.
A varied bunch
of films, from the light comedy of the first, to the tense and gritty
drama of the third. Should prove enjoyable to fans of the classic
adventure serials and spy films. Hammer completists looking for early
appearances from the studio's top staff will probably be disappointed.
prints vary in quality from decent to poor, but are probably the best
remaining. The booklet is very interesting although the inclusion of
one of the archive radio shows would have been good.