Craig Kennedy, Criminologist (1951)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Bert Greene, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Second Unit

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    I ventured over to VCI's website (vcientertainment.com) today and noticed their plans to release the made-for-syndication oldie "Craig Kennedy, Criminologist," starring Donald Woods. It's slated for later this month. It's not entirely clear that it's the entire series, which actually only totals 26 episodes. The running time doesn't seem to equal that (unless this series had a quirkily short length, like that even-earlier vintage "Public Prosecuter" series). I'm guessing VCI acquired this through their Kit-Parker library purchase. The cover is pretty nice, with an old pulp-mag look.

    Being of 1951-52 vintage, it's one of the older items to make it to dvd, and I'm always particularly thrilled when such obscurities like this get released. That said, I'm only familiar with the series from a single episode I've seen, which I got on a bootleg video twenty years ago. That example was interesting, albeit a bit stiff and talky, with the emphasis on more cerebral detecting/whodunit shenanigans, as opposed to the far zestier "Boston Blackie" tv-series with its abundant action scenes and on-location work. Still, I'll be looking forward to this new release. I'm always intrigued by these independent filmed series from the early days of tv. True, they can be a mixed bag... sometimes cheap and sloppy, other times sharp and effective. Certainly less predictable than the series from the later-50s and 1960s, once the big studios started dominating the scene, with their decades worth of assembly-line know-how. But, heck, I love those, too!
     
  2. Michael Alden

    Michael Alden Supporting Actor

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    This was owned and syndicated by Weiss Global and I think the show actually might have been produced by Adrian Weiss. All of his properties kind of got scattered to the four winds when he passed away. A quick look at the Library of Congress site shows the series did have it's copyright renewed.
     
  3. Gary OS

    Gary OS Producer

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    Sounds like another interesting series from the 50's that I'll have to check out, Bert. I don't believe I've ever seen it, but like you I'm always up for a journey back to the good old days of television.

    Gary "it's really nice to have other folks who pick up on these releases and then post the news here - I would have completely missed it" O.
     
  4. Bob Gu

    Bob Gu Supporting Actor

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    Just this week, I was reading TV Detectives by Richard Meyers, and was puzzled by his two paragraph description of the Craig Kennedy series, mainly because I had never heard of it before. The series or Craig Kennedy,Criminologist, the character.

    "Kennedy began life in 1912 in the Arthur B. Reeve book 'The Silent Bullet'. He proved popular enough to be labeled the "American Sherlock Holmes", by the time the final book was published in 1936.(There were six movies produced between 1915 and 1936.) Donald Woods played the detective in 26 syndicated episodes produced by Adrian Weiss. By the early fifties, interest had all but waned in the character."

    Of course, I am interested. Thanks Bert. I was trying to place Donald Woods. After looking at the box art at the VCI site, I did remember him. He played the lawyer/suitor of Eleanor Parker in the Errol Flynn comedy, "Never Say Good-bye".
     
  5. Brian:C

    Brian:C Stunt Coordinator

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  6. silverking

    silverking Guest


    Thanks Bert

    Never seen it & vaguely heard of it but could be an interesting 'blind buy'.
    Think we need some sort of thread to keep breast of these older possibly PD
    releases from the smaller independents
     
  7. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Second Unit

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    Actually, this looks like it would constitute an 'official' release, not really a PD one. Which I trust also implies nice-quality prints. As for Donald Woods, he was in slews of 1930s films. I think he must have been under contract for a while to WB in the mid-30s. He appeared in a lot of them, and they often pop up on Turner Classics. I think he also was in one or two of Universal's "Crime Club" films.
     
  8. Brian:C

    Brian:C Stunt Coordinator

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    I Emailed VCI. It will be a 12 episode set. Hopefuly that means Vol 1. Catalogue number indicates Kit Parker Films. Will they be restored 35mm transfers? I'll post as soon as I receive mine.

    Brian
     
  9. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Second Unit

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    Brian, thanks for checking with VCI. Gosh, I should have done that myself. I've bought from the company for fifteen years now, and they've always been helpful the few times I've phoned them about something. Anyway, it's a shame it's not the entire series, but when it comes to such a rare, forgotten series, I'm always glad to at least get 'something.'
     
  10. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Bert & Brian, thanks for the heads up and research on this series. I've never heard of it, but know Donald Woods from a slew of 30s films he was in. He did a turn as Perry Mason at Warners and also appeared in some Charlie Chan films at Fox.

    If early reports are good prints & transfers I might have to bite at this one.

    Steve
     
  11. Brian:C

    Brian:C Stunt Coordinator

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    I just watch the first episode. Quality is very good. Very Slight grain with a small amount shimmer or flash in the background. The quality is on par with any of the smaller labels. They did a pretty good job with the 35mm prints. Hardly any lines or dirt, except in the stock footage.

    I'd recommend this for the early TV collectors. Can't really comment on the series itself since I've only seen one episode.

    Brian
     
  12. Doug^Ch

    Doug^Ch Second Unit

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    I watched the first two episodes last night. The packaging is very nicely done with the discs in a double amray case with nice art work both on the case and the discs themselves. The main title sequence is very professionally done with a moving fingerprint used to select particular episodes. The video quality is above par with what one would expect from a series of this age. The VQ is head and shoulders above the Loretta Young Show from the same year. All that being said The Loretta Young Show towers above this show with the quality of the performances. From the first two shows, with the exception of Donald Woods, the acting is pretty stilted and I would only recommend Craig Kennedy Criminologist to serious students of early Television.
     
  13. Bert Greene

    Bert Greene Second Unit

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    Really terrific prints. But, I can't argue with Doug that the series is clearly from creaksville. This series must have seemed awfully dated already by the mid-1950s, and I don't think it even circulated in rerun-syndication much by then, compared to the far zippier shows that followed in its wake... like "Boston Blackie," "City Detective," "Man Against Crime," "Waterfront," etc.

    But, I still get a kick out of these strange prehistoric tv efforts. Surely the legions of Jack Mulhall fans will be pleased with the set. He appears in the first three episodes, in three entirely different roles, in addition to the inclusion of the first chapter of "The Clutching Hand" serial.

    Actually, there's one thing I love about VCI's cover: it proclaims the series as being "the original C.S.I." Pretty funny! And not entirely inaccurate, considering the shows emphasis on scientific detection.
     

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