In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult.
Release date: April 28, 1939
Cast: Tim Holt, Virginia Weidler, Janet Shaw, Frank M. Thomas, Robert Emmett Keane, Monte Montague, Ace the Wonder Dog
Studio: RKO Radio Pictures
Director: David Howard
Clem Maitland (Holt) is a police officer who is trying to get the police commissioner to agree to hiring a police dog. Clem uses the German shepherd Ace (Ace the Wonder Dog) on the job prove the dog’s value with police work. Using the dog backfires on a case and Clem is suspended. When his handyman friend Tom (Montague) gets accused of stealing a company’s payroll, Clem works with Ace to clear his name. Clem’s small young friend Nicey (Weidler) tags along to help solve the crimes.
• Virginia Weidler was in 10 films released in 1939.
• Tim Holt was in five films released in 1939.
• Working title was “G-Dog”
• Ace the Wonder Dog was in 15 films from 1938 to 1946.
My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
The Los Angles Times review called “The Rookie Cop” “a usually agreeable picture.” And I feel that brief statement sums up this movie.
Running 61 minutes, “The Rookie Cop” is a brief and enjoyable film that movies quickly. Tim Holt and Ace the Wonder Dog fight crime and provide the dramatic scenes and 13-year-old Virginia Weidler provides the comedy. At one point, Weidler is riding along on her motorized scooter through city streets to keep up with Holt and help solve crimes. It’s ridiculous but also hilarious.
Tim Holt’s career started as a child in 1928, but his acting roles seemed to start picking up steam in 1938 and 1939. Virginia Weidler started acting at age 4 in 1931 in bit parts. In 1939 she was scene-stealing in films like this one and “The Women.”
“The Rookie Cop” is a low-budget crime drama but it is fun and has its comedic moments. It isn’t a behemoth of 1939 like “Gone with the Wind” or “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” but it is a nice, digestible film that will keep you entertained.