Watching 1939: The Rookie Cop (1939)

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. 

1939 film: The Rookie Cop

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.

1939 Notes:
• Virginia Weidler was in 10 films released in 1939.
• Tim Holt was in five films released in 1939.

Tim Holt and Virginia Weidler

Other trivia: 
• 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.

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4 thoughts on “Watching 1939: The Rookie Cop (1939)

  1. Jessica, you have a really good blog. I’ve had a few look-sees, but this is my first time to comment. I think writers appreciate and need feedback, so here goes.

    I think it will be really neat to read your take on the pictures released in 1939. It was a fantastic year in motion picture history. I think there were 365 pictures released that year. Have fun.


  2. Hi Jessica,

    I just saw this one too! Could have been better but it goes over quick and easy thanks to Tim and the dog. Fun to compare notes!

    Best wishes,


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