Watching Dick Barton, Special Agent I can only imagine how in the 1940's the theaters where full of British children engrossed in the crime stopping, comical extorts, of Special Agent Dick Barton. This film marked Hammer's first post war picture and launched it's success off the then well known radio series which chroniceled the thrilling adventures of Barton.
Dick Barton (Don Stannard) is sent on an assignment to investigate a possible smuggling operation overly in Echo Bay. Under the guise of being on a fishing trip with is goofy cohorts Snowy and Jack, Barton manages to avoid two attempts on his life by the weaselly goons of Dr. Caspar. When he mistakenly receives a package of lobster claws with jewelry and a strange vial hidden inside he's quite certain he's on the right trail. Seems that Dr. Caspar and his men are former Nazi's with a devilish plan to contaminate Britain's drinking water with the contents being smuggled in the vials.
Dick Barton, Special Agent is essentially the British equivalent of serial spy / crime films that would have been seen in America around the same time in the late 1940's early 1950's. Of course today this type of film might seem incredibly silly due to the fact that the overacting and style of humor is incredibly dated, but I found it to still be quite enjoyable and amusing, even though it's probably not for the same reasons film goers did in the 40's. If you're looking for good clean camp, look no further, Dick Barton, Special Agent is Sherlock Holmes with a touch of Three Stooges. From the incredibly campy one-liners to the overly noticeable bad fight sequences, where it's clear no one is landing a punch. It's the type of campy serial elements that made the 1960's Batman series so popular (although Dick Barton is far from Batman cheesy), with an added British flair.
Dick Barton, Special Agent is the first of three Dick Barton adventures produced by Hammer over a span of three years. The star Don Stannard starred in all three as well as Hammer's Death in High Heels which was released before this film. Unfortunatley, Stannard met an untimely demise on the way home from the casting party of the final Dick Barton film, he died in a car crash on July 9th, 1949 at the age of 32. Quite sad because he only had a handful of films under his belt and definitely had potential as good British actor. Overall, Dick Barton was a nice surprise, I've been wanting to watch the series of films for a while but was expecting more of a straight sort of spy thriller, the more campy vibe was a surprise and quite entertaining.
Dick Barton, Special Agent Full Film