Officer 444 (1926)

Film Review

OFFICER 444 EP. 1: THE FLYING SQUADRON

Release Date: 15 May, 1926 (10 episodes)

Directors: Francis Ford, Ben F. Wilson

Starring: Ben Wilson, Neva Gerber, Arthur Beckel

Synopsis

A heroic policeman in Berkeley, CA, officer 444, is beloved by all the citizens in his district, especially the children. The minions of the Frog, an arch villain, set fire to the building of research chemist Beckel. Officer 444 rushes into the building to save the chemist, and when a child inside the building cries out, he returns to save her. The neighborhood children cheer 444. The chemist gives Officer 444's sweetheart, nurse Gerber, an important letter. The Frog sends kidnappers to seize her. Officer 444 saves her from them.

Discussion

Dozens of serials were made during the silent era. The team of Ben Wilson and Neva Gerber made eight serials between 1917 and 1926. Officer 444 is their final pairing. Ben Wilson, who co-starred in the first movie serial, What Happened to Mary (1912), spent most of his career in serials. Although some of the early serials told a complete story in each episode, by 1915 most serials consisted of a series of chapters in which the story carried over from one to the next. Francis Ford (1881-1953), the older brother of famed director John Ford, wrote the story and directed Officer 444. Ford, a serial veteran, had directed and starred in his first serial (The Broken Coin) in 1915. He had not advanced in his approach to film making, and the story, intertitles and acting in Officer 444 are out-of-date for 1926.