Television Spy (1939)

55 or 58 mins | Drama | 20 October 1939

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HISTORY

This film was originally titled The World on Parade . According to a HR news item, portions of this film were shot on location in Chatsworth, CA in mid-Jun 1939. It is unclear from the film whether "Llewellyn" was faking his paralysis, or experienced a miraculous recovery. Canadian-born Edward Dmytryk, who had been an editor at Paramount prior to directing this film, refers to Television Spy as his "first picture," although he directed the independent film The Hawk in 1935 and filled in as director for Million Dollar Legs in Apr 1939 (see above). In Jun 1939, he signed a new contract with Paramount and became a U.S. citizen. Dmytryk recounts that while on location at a ranch in the San Fernando Valley, Paramount contract director Louis King had been assigned to remain on location in case Dmytryk needed assistance. After the first day's dailies were approved by Harold Hurley, referred to by Dmytryk as "Paramount's top B-picture executive," King left the production. The Var review states, "Under Edward Dmytryk's direction, the screenplay may move slowly, but it avoids the absurdity that goes along with the average film crack at television." The review also says that the film's "best field will be male audiences, predominantly the younger lads, because gadgets, electrons and megacycles, etc., are useless as ingredients for femme entertainment." The HR review states, "Edward Dmytryk makes his bow as director...and shows great promise." The review also states that the film's writers "have taken advantage of the fact that the technicalities of Television are Greek to audiences..." ... More Less

This film was originally titled The World on Parade . According to a HR news item, portions of this film were shot on location in Chatsworth, CA in mid-Jun 1939. It is unclear from the film whether "Llewellyn" was faking his paralysis, or experienced a miraculous recovery. Canadian-born Edward Dmytryk, who had been an editor at Paramount prior to directing this film, refers to Television Spy as his "first picture," although he directed the independent film The Hawk in 1935 and filled in as director for Million Dollar Legs in Apr 1939 (see above). In Jun 1939, he signed a new contract with Paramount and became a U.S. citizen. Dmytryk recounts that while on location at a ranch in the San Fernando Valley, Paramount contract director Louis King had been assigned to remain on location in case Dmytryk needed assistance. After the first day's dailies were approved by Harold Hurley, referred to by Dmytryk as "Paramount's top B-picture executive," King left the production. The Var review states, "Under Edward Dmytryk's direction, the screenplay may move slowly, but it avoids the absurdity that goes along with the average film crack at television." The review also says that the film's "best field will be male audiences, predominantly the younger lads, because gadgets, electrons and megacycles, etc., are useless as ingredients for femme entertainment." The HR review states, "Edward Dmytryk makes his bow as director...and shows great promise." The review also states that the film's writers "have taken advantage of the fact that the technicalities of Television are Greek to audiences..." According to a HR news item on 10 Jun 1939, Maxwell Smith, a television expert from the California Institute of Technology, was hired as technical advisor on this film. Var , commenting on the "wireless romancing" of "Douglas" and "Gwen," states, "Henry never gets closer to Miss Barrett than 3,000 miles....That rates as a new one in closeups, even for Hollywood." HR states, "Boy meets girl, but only by airwaves, and they fall in love via same route." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Oct 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
13 Oct 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 39
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jun 39
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 39
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 39
p. 4.
Motion Picture Daily
11 Oct 39
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
14 Oct 39
p. 42.
Variety
22 Nov 39
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The World on Parade
Release Date:
20 October 1939
Production Date:
began 8 June 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 October 1939
Copyright Number:
LP9192
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
55 or 58
Length(in reels):
6
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5481
SYNOPSIS

In Stanhaven, New York, under the patronage of irascible, wheelchair bound radio magnate James Llewellyn, inventor Douglas Cameron discovers a television broadcaster that will carry waves farther than the standard fifty-mile limit by making them follow the curvature of the earth. While demonstrating his interoffice communications system to his business manager, Llewellyn catches his avaricious cousins scheming to have him declared incompetent so they can get their hands on his money. After weeks of work in a secret laboratory with his assistant, Dick Randolph, Cameron perfects the instrument and plans to turn it over to the United States government as a military secret. However, their plans go awry when an international spy ring headed by Reni Vonich, an old friend of Llewellyn, learns of the discovery and induces Llewellyn's butler, Frome, and his former business partner, Burton Lawson, to steal the design and develop their own set. Over the next few months, Cameron and Randolph successfully increase the distance to which they are able to broadcast from New York, finally reaching Cleveland, Chicago and then Kansas City. While they are awaiting a signal from Salt Lake City, Frome drugs Llewellyn. A broadcast from Lawson's California ranch then appears on Cameron's New York set, and Cameron is able to communicate with Lawson's daughter Gwen and sees his own blueprints on a desk in the picture. The connection fades almost immediately, and no one believes Cameron's story. Gwen then tells Reni that she saw someone on the television set who said that the blueprints were his. Reni sends a telegram to Llewellyn from Lawson asking him to tune in at noon, New York time, ... +


In Stanhaven, New York, under the patronage of irascible, wheelchair bound radio magnate James Llewellyn, inventor Douglas Cameron discovers a television broadcaster that will carry waves farther than the standard fifty-mile limit by making them follow the curvature of the earth. While demonstrating his interoffice communications system to his business manager, Llewellyn catches his avaricious cousins scheming to have him declared incompetent so they can get their hands on his money. After weeks of work in a secret laboratory with his assistant, Dick Randolph, Cameron perfects the instrument and plans to turn it over to the United States government as a military secret. However, their plans go awry when an international spy ring headed by Reni Vonich, an old friend of Llewellyn, learns of the discovery and induces Llewellyn's butler, Frome, and his former business partner, Burton Lawson, to steal the design and develop their own set. Over the next few months, Cameron and Randolph successfully increase the distance to which they are able to broadcast from New York, finally reaching Cleveland, Chicago and then Kansas City. While they are awaiting a signal from Salt Lake City, Frome drugs Llewellyn. A broadcast from Lawson's California ranch then appears on Cameron's New York set, and Cameron is able to communicate with Lawson's daughter Gwen and sees his own blueprints on a desk in the picture. The connection fades almost immediately, and no one believes Cameron's story. Gwen then tells Reni that she saw someone on the television set who said that the blueprints were his. Reni sends a telegram to Llewellyn from Lawson asking him to tune in at noon, New York time, for a broadcast from California. Lawson finally realizes that Reni is the head of a spy ring that plans to sell the plans to a European country. Frome agrees to kill Lawson and Gwen for Reni, for an additional $10,000, while Cameron tries to solve the crime from New York and deduces that someone in the Llewellyn household must have betrayed him. To trap the thief, Llewellyn then tells his relatives he has an innovation in the safe, hoping someone will take the bait. The trick works, and Llewellyn discovers that the spy is Frome when an in-house monitor shows the butler opening the safe. Lawson tunes in and tells Llewellyn that he and Gwen are being held hostage, but fails to say where they are. Reni and her accomplice, Boris, scheme to doublecross their European liaison, Carl Venner, who plans to meet them in Paris the next day. Reni and Boris visit Llewellyn, claiming that they made a legitimate purchase of a television tube, which they later learned had been stolen. The relatives then catch Boris planting dynamite in the house. In Glenby, California, Lawson broadcasts a call for help. At the same time, in New York, Reni pulls a gun on Llewellyn, but the relatives enter with guns and dispose of the dynamite. Remarkably, Llewellyn rises out of his wheelchair and calls the police. In Glenby, the Lawsons are being forced by Reni's lackey, Forbes, to dismantle the equipment, but when Lawson offers Forbes diamonds from his house safe, Forbes releases them in exchange for the combination. The police arrive and gun down the escaping spies. The sheriff then broadcasts to Llewellyn that the Lawsons are safe, and all leave Gwen and Cameron alone to privately broadcast their love. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.