Here’s Flash Casey DVD Review: His Girl Friday, The Big Sleep, and Andy Hardy Walk into a Bar…

Here’s Flash Casey (1938), directed by Lynn Shores (Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum), stars Eric Linden and Boots Mallory as newspaper staff members who get more than they bargain for while chasing big stories. From Grand National Pictures, this Poverty Row cheapie has a lot going on in its 56-minute run time and some of it’s not too bad. 

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Flash Casey (Linden) is fresh out of college and looking to be a star newspaper photographer. Due to a bit of luck and some shenanigans, he lands a job at a major paper. Unfortunately though, he’s mostly just a lackey for the paper’s main photographer, Wade (Cully Richards). Disillusioned, Flash begins to sneak photos to the newspapers subsidiary photo magazine (essentially a scandal rag) run by a nice old fellow named Pop Lawrence (Howard Lang). “The always up-beat” Flash also manages to romance the beautiful star columnist, Kay Lanning (Boots Mallory), who feeds him tips on where to be to get the best shots using his brand new “candid camera,” which is the forerunner to those basic little Kodaks we know so well today. 

The camera store owner who loans Flash the little camera also develops the negatives, but little does Flash know he’s being double crossed. The store owner is part of a blackmail ring that wants to use Flash’s scoops for their own nefarious ends. Things go awry when the baddies plot to kidnap the newspaper’s owner, Major Addison (Holmes Herbert), after he gets wind of their misdeeds. The gun-happy bad guys bungle the job as Flash comes crashing onto the scene. They manage to nab Kay during the chaos and Flash is quick to respond. He partners up with old Wade and heads out to grab his girl back and save the paper’s pride.  

Here’s Flash Casey isn’t bad for what it is and there’s a lot of story going on for such a short runtime. There’s comedy, lighthearted drama, and action. Each has its flash points but all are rather mediocre. The comedy starts with college humor and continues as Flash and his newspaper pals make snappy remarks. The drama takes the form of a secret love affair between Major Addison’s son and a famous foreign starlett as well as Flash and Kay’s quick romance. The action, of course, kicks up its heels as the blackmailers run amok while Flash chases them in an ambulance cleverly chosen for its siren. 

The cast is overflowing with actors seen regularly throughout the various Poverty Row Studios flicks playing everything from cowboys to pirates and newspaper folks. Some of the gals here had quite the time in those early talkies playing risque dance girls and the like. Also, like many of the westerns cranked out by those types of studios, there’s either footage missing or some story development was simply skipped over, leaving the audience to assume certain plot points. Either are plausible as is the nature of this type of movie cranked out by those studios. Flash’s romance with Kay, for instance, skyrockets after the two literally bump into each other as she emerges from an elevator, sending Boots (or her stunt double) straight backward, flat on her sexy rear. They banter a few more times then they’re out on a casual date which does not appear to be their first. Clearly some frames are missing as the film has a few hiccups where splices were made over time, but it looks great overall thanks to Film Masters’ newly “Restored in HD” DVD release. 

Here’s Flash Casey was likely inspired by The Front Page (1931), (remade later as His Girl Friday) and comes off like His Girl Friday meets The Big Sleep with a cooler Andy Hardy playing the lead role. It’s not horrible and for 56 minutes I was fully entertained but its short runtime is a detraction to the overall plot. It’s fun to muse what could have been if it was made in the pre-Code era? We may have seen some risque Boots Mallory scenes. Ah, well. Look her up on Wikipedia and see for yourself. Hubba Hubba. There’s also other fun facts like her marriage to “James Cagney’s lookalike brother William.” Here’s Flash Casey has her going for it which is probably too much for old Andy Hardy anyway.  

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Joe Garcia III

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