Movie series were popular with audiences from the 1920s to the late 1940s. They consisted of a string or sequence of short films that used the same character or group of characters. Many B films were based on this format. Unlike the movie serial, a series film featured a set of movies that did not end in cliff hangers and were not interdependent. Westerns, thrillers, and comedies were the most popular genres. The lead characters in these films were already familiar to audiences from previous films in the series, radio shows, or from mass-market fiction.
Westerns formed a major part of series productions. The Hopalong Cassidy series starred William Boyd (1898–1972) as Hopalong Cassidy with his sidekick California Carlson (Andy Clyde, 1892–1967) and his horse Topper. Both Paramount Studios and United Artists released a total of sixty-six episodes from 1935 to 1948, making it one of the longest-running series in Hollywood history.
Range War was the 26th movie of the series. In the film, Russell “Lucky” Hayden (1912–1981) replaces California Carlson as Cassidy’s sidekick. The two go undercover to expose a group of local ranchers who attempt to sabotage the construction of a railroad through the open frontier.
In Return of the Whistler, Michael Duane (1914–1963) stars in the eighth and last movie of Columbia’s mystery series about a man whose fiancée has gone missing. Return of the Whistler was adapted from one of America’s most popular radio shows by the same name. The prior movies starred Richard Dix (1893–1949), a silent movie star, who successfully transitioned to sound pictures. Each film began with the same, recognizable whistle. The voice of the whistler usually introduced the story, explaining what was going on and occasionally providing a concluding narration. Return of the Whistler was adapted from Cornell Woolrich’s (1903–1968) short story All at Once, No Alice (1940).
This was the third film in the East Side Kids series, produced by Monogram Pictures. It consisted of 22 installments and ran from 1940 to 1945. Many of the “kids” were originally from other comedic series such as The Dead End Kids and The Little Tough Guys; several of them later became members of The Bowery Boys. The East Side Kids usually portrayed lower class, street kids struggling against their criminal environment.
That Gang of Mine featured Leo Gorcey (1945–1969) in his role as “Muggs McGinnis,” the leader of the East Side Social Improvement Club, who is ridiculed by his friends for aspiring to become a jockey. Gorcey is accompanied by Bobby Jordan (1923–1965) who plays Danny, his boyish-looking side-kick. At this point in the series, Gorcey and Jordan played the leaders of the group, while the other members of the East Side Kids, such as Huntz Hall (1920–1999), who played Glimpy, were called up as needed.