Release Date(s)1935 (December 11, 2018)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures (VCI Entertainment/MVD Visual)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: F
It wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that there aren’t too many movie lovers familiar with Tailspin Tommy. Based on the comic strip of the same name and created by Hal Forrest, the character appeared in two back-to-back movie serials: Tailspin Tommy and Tailspin Tommy in the Great Air Mystery.
The Great Air Mystery follows up on the adventures of “Tailspin” Tommy Tompkins (Clark Williams), who amazingly avoids death countless times, thwarting ruthless gangsters hell-bent on stealing oil reserves from Mendoza Island. Tommy manages to evade numerous precarious situations, such as active volcanoes, anti-aircraft shells, boat crashes, and a multitude of bombs.
Clark Williams is perfectly fine as “Tailspin” Tommy. All he needs to do is say a few lines, fight a few bad guys, and act like he’s flying a plane in front of a rear projection screen, but he does it well. The lovely Jean Rogers, who also appears in Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars and Charlie Chan in Panama, also does a nice job as Betty Lou Barnes. Overall, Tailspin Tommy in the Great Air Mystery is a rousing yet silly serial with plenty of action and clever cliffhangers.
Presented on Blu-ray courtesy of VCI Entertainment and MVD Visual, Tailspin Tommy in the Great Air Mystery makes for a nice release. The front cover confirms that the serial has been "remastered in 2K from the original 35mm fine grain [print]." While far from perfect, it’s more than adequate. It varies in quality from time to time, but the best sections have balanced grayscale and noticeable film grain. In some chapters, the image contains vertical lines and print damage, but mainly during stock footage. Chapter 12 is the least attractive of all due to macroblocking.
In regards to the audio, this release features an English 2.0 mono LPCM track. Action-oriented sounds and explosions tend to sound the most aggressive while the thrilling musical score comes through clearly. From time to time, there are some pops and a few other minor audio issues, but as a whole, it’s satisfactory. Optional English subtitles are also available. Unfortunately, there are no extras.
To sum up, it looks as if some genuine effort was made to have Tailspin Tommy in the Great Air Mystery looking the best that it can on Blu-ray. It’s fun weekend matinee escapism, and serial fans should definitely consider giving Tailspin a spin!
– David Steigman