Murder in the Air was the fourth and final of the Warner Brothers B-movies starring Ronald Reagan as Secret Service agent Brass Bancroft. As a bonus this one includes action on board a zeppelin! Not a German zeppelin but a US Navy dirigible which is every bit as cool. There’s no way I could possibly fail to love a movie that involves airships.
Murder in the Air was released in June 1940. The United States was theoretically at peace but war fever had already started to sweep Hollywood. This movie deals with foreign spies and saboteurs trying to wreck the US military forces. They aren’t specifically identified as German but they all have foreign accents that sound vaguely German.
The spy ring’s target is the US Navy airship Mason which is currently testing a new super-secret weapon, the inertia projector. This weapon can cripple an enemy fleet by knocking out all its electrical equipment. So this movie not only has airships, it also has a kind of death ray. It might not be an actual death ray but the good news is that it looks just like a death ray projector.
The plot is fairly basic but there’s plenty of action and excitement (there’s even a hurricane thrown in for good measure) and the very brief running time keeps the pacing tight so there’s no chance of boredom setting in.
Lewis Seiler was a solid journeyman director and injects the necessary urgency into proceedings.
Obviously stock footage was used for the exterior airship scenes but the scenes onboard the Mason makes use of some fairly convincing and interesting sets. And to be fair the stock footage is integrated surprisingly successfully into the movie.
Secret Service of the Air and Code of the Secret Service (especially the former).
The Brass Bancroft movies are fine undemanding entertainment and Murder in the Air is one of the strongest entries in the series. The airship setting adds extra interest and the ending provides some real thrills. Highly recommended.