Ronald Reagan assumes the role of Secret Service Lieutenant Brass Bancroft in these pulpy adventure films, the first two installments in a four-part series (followed by Smashing the Money Ring and Murder in the Air). In Secret Service of the Air, Bancroft goes undercover to prison to break up a smuggling racket that transports people from Mexico to the US by plane. In Code of the Secret Service, Bancroft and his partner, Gabby Watters (Eddie Foy, Jr.) set out to find printing plates stolen from the US Treasury Department, leading them to a counterfeiting ring in Mexico.
Secret Service of the Air by Noel Smith (USA, 1939, 61 min.).
Code of the Secret Service by Noel Smith (USA, 1939, 58 min.).
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The Brass Bancroft series was part of a late 1930s effort by Warner Brothers to produce films depicting law enforcement in a heroic light. The studio was under pressure from Will Hays (of the Hays censorship code) to make amends for several films produced earlier in that decade glamorizing gangsters. Created at the outset of Reagan’s career, the character of Brass Bancroft established an affable and courageous persona for the actor that would shape his public image.
An interesting bit of trivia: Special Agent Jerry Parr was inspired to join the Secret Service after watching Code of the Secret Service several times as a child. Parr would go on to save Reagan’s life when John Hinckley, Jr. fired shots at the President. The assassination attempt was meant to impress Jodie Foster, with whom Hinckley had developed an obsession after seeing Taxi Driver.