Monday, July 15, 2013
Stars of Public Domain: Alene Carroll in RIOT SQUAD (1933)
No, blonde Alene Carroll doesn't play the lead in Riot Squad, this typical early 1930s "crime meller" from Gower Gulch producer Harry S. Webb, that dubious distinction instead going to silent screen ingenue Madge Bellamy. Who, once again, proves that she may just have been the worst actress in Hollywood history. (With an apology to film historian extraordinaire William Drew, who has long championed Miss Bellamy.) Alene plays the film's victim, the daughter of a judge (Ralph Lewis) kidnapped to influence the death penalty trial of gangster Harrison Greene. This particular damsel is eventually freed by demoted detectives James Flavin and Pat O'Malley, recently of the Riot Squad of the title, who briefly take a breather from their fighting over the dubious charms of Miss Bellamy. Riot Squad, which was filmed on location in Hollywood and at Ralph M. Like's Tec-Art studio on Sunset Drive (later Monogram and public station KCET), survives under its later television title, Police Patrol, and is available for streaming or download at www.archive.org. Alene Carroll, meanwhile, remains a cipher, turning up as "chorus girls," "blondes," or simply "girls" in films 1932-1940.