- Junior G-Men
"Junior G-Men" was a boys club and popular culture phenomenon during the late 1930s and early 1940s that began with a radio program and culminated with films featuring the
Dead End Kids.
After leaving the
Federal Bureau of Investigationand a brief stint in Hollywood, Melvin Purvishosted a children’s radio program called “Junior G-Men” in 1936. Purvis had become a national hero for his record as an FBI agent during the so-called "war on crime" in the early 1930s, most notably for leading the manhunt that ended with the death of John Dillinger. As a result of this fame, Purvis was seen as a real-life counterpart to the fictional detectives, such as Dick Tracy, that proliferated in the popular culture targeting boys during this period. As part of the radio program, listeners could join a "Junior G-Men" club and receive badges, manuals, and secret agent props. Shortly thereafter, Purvis became the face of breakfast cereal Post Toastiespromotional detective club. The cereal company’s fictional “Inspector Post” and his “Junior Detective Corps” metamorphosed into an image of Purvis inviting boys and girls to become “secret operators” in his “Law and Order Patrols.”
As a result of this mass exposure, Junior G-Men clubs sprouted up throughout the United States and Canada as a "law and order" themed alternative to the Boy Scouts. Junior G-Men clubs found support from police departments and non-profit organizations that saw them as a means of combating
juvenile delinquency. The clubs structured children's time with activities designed to instill law-abiding attitudes, as reflected in their slogan "It's easier to build boys than to mend men."
Junior G-Men was part of the larger “war on crime” campaign being waged through the mass media, which included movies, comic books and strips, radio programs, and pulp books, all of which was encouraged by the FBI and especially its director,
J. Edgar Hooverprior to World War II. Most of these featured adult "G-Men" even when marketed to children. The difference with the Junior G-Men was that it was designed to give boys a sense of participating in the exciting adult world of crime-fighting. That said, aside from the original radio program, a book, "Junior ‘G’ Men’s Own Mystery Stories" (by Gilbert Lathrop, Edward O’Connor, and Norton Hughs Jonathan) was published in 1936 and a big little bookby Morrell Massey and Henry E. Vallely the following year. Eventually they also appeared on the big screen.
To bring the Junior G-Men to life on the big screen,
Universal Studiosenlisted the Little Tough Guysand the Dead End Kids, a group of on-screen street toughs that later became known as The Bowery Boys. Two serials were made: "Junior G-Men" in 1940 and " Junior G-Men of the Air" in 1942.
In "Junior G-Men", a 12-chapter serial, a gang of street kids work with the FBI and the Junior G-Men to find and rescue their leader's father, a scientist who has been kidnapped by "The Flaming Torches," a group of saboteurs in league with a sinister foreign power.
The second film is a 12-chapter serial, "Junior G-Men of the Air", in which the Junior G-Men thwart the “Order of the Black Dragonfly,” a Japanese
fifth columnorganization planning to destroy America's oil wells.
Let's Get Tough!" the Eastside kids call themselves "Junior G-Men" when investigating sabotage.
FBI portrayal in the media
Secret Agent X-9- A comic strip created by Dashiell Hammettthat was used to promote the FBI in the 1930s.
G Men- A 1935 film starring James Cagney, intended as a rejoinder to the gangster film genre.
Dick Tracy's G-Men- A film serial based on the Dick Tracycharacter, in which he is a G-Man.
List of film serials
Law Enforcement Exploring
*cite book| last = Powers| first = Richard Gid| title = G-Men: Hoover’s FBI in American Popular Culture| publisher = Southern Illinois University Press| date = 1983| location = Carbondale, IL|pages= 188-206|id = ISBN 0-8093-1096-1
* [http://www.archive.org/details/Gmen1 Junior G-Men] serial from the
* [http://www.billsparks.com/Children/Junior_G-men/index.html "Junior G-Men: Secret of the Locked Room"] Radio program excerpt from
Old Time Radio
* [http://www.broward.org/library/bienes/092.htm "Junior G-Men and the Counterfeiters"] 1937 big little book.
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032656/ Junior G-Men] at the
Internet Movie Database
* [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034930/ Junior G-Men of the Air] at the Internet Movie Database
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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