|Directed by||Noel M. Smith|
Jacques Jaccard (asst.)
|Written by||Morgan Cox|
George H. Plympton
|Produced by||Ford Beebe|
|Cinematography||John W. Boyle|
William A. Sickner
|Edited by||Irving Birnbaum|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|13 chapters (251 minutes)|
Gang Busters is a 1942 Universal movie serial based on the radio series Gang Busters.
The city is terrorized by a crime wave masterminded by the elusive, soft-spoken Professor Mortis (Ralph Morgan) from his base in a forgotten cavern beneath the rails of the city's subway line. Following the murder of his brother, police detective Bill Bannister (Kent Taylor), his partner Tim Nolan (Robert Armstrong), and police chief Martin O'Brien (Joseph Crehan) focus investigation on the activities of Mortis and his gang, and discover that the crimes were all perpetrated by men who had died some time ago, with new identities and kept alive by a formula of Mortis's invention. Following the story is journalist Vicki Logan (Irene Hervey) and her photographer 'Happy' Haskins (Richard Davies).
Gang Busters is one of Universal's most elaborate serials, with many chase and thrill scenes expertly staged in outdoor locations. The directors were Ray Taylor, veteran director responsible for many hit serials, and Noel M. Smith, former silent-screen director who specialized in fast action (Smith directed many of Larry Semon's action-filled comedies of the 1920s).
This is mostly a crime film but contains a small science fiction element. The villains, The League of Murdered Men, are all dead criminals killed and revived by Professor Mortis using his own mysterious poison.
The film was very successful in its original release, and was re-released in 1949 by Sherman S. Krellberg's Filmcraft Productions.
Within serial fandom, Jim Harmon and Donald F. Glut in the 1970s described Gang Busters as a "well made and interesting serial.", and Cline in 1984 wrote that he considered the serial is one of Universal's best and that Professor Mortis is one of the best characters ever created for a serial.