Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Hawkins, who writes:
This evening I watched the excellent Undercover: How to Operate Behind Enemy Lines on Netflix streaming. This is a 1943 training film for Office of Strategic Services personnel learning how be secret agents. The film was directed by the legendary John Ford who also took an acting role in the film. In this scene, Al is receiving his forged papers from an OSS agent before leaving for Germany. A radio may seen on a shelf in the background.
Undercover: How to Operate Behind Enemy Lines is also available on YouTube:
Click here to view on YouTube.
The next film is much better known. The same model radio makes a foreground appearance in Some Like it Hot. Osgood Fielding III has one of these on his yacht.
Maybe Osgood is laughing because the film takes place in 1929 and the company that made the radio was founded several years later.
I won’t spoil the secret of this radio’s maker and model. It will probably not take long for SWLing Post readers to come up with an answer.
Post readers: are you up for the challenge? 🙂 What model of radio do we see here? I’ll keep quiet, because it’s one of my favorite manufacturers.
And, Dan, many thanks. I really do owe you one because I was not familiar with Undercover: How to Operate Behind Enemy Lines. I can’t believe there was a WWII era Ford film I had missed. I, too, have Netflix but the YouTube copy you suggested is actually a better restored version in terms of audio. Thanks again!
Looks to me like the Hallicrafters S-20R Sky Champion receiver…
Thomas – it’s a Hallicrafters S20R “Sky Champion” – I own 2 of these, one barely operatable due to nearly dead tubes, the other is for parts but fully intact. I look forward to SWLing.com daily – thanks for a great site!
73 Mike VE7SKA
Might want to re-hab that S 20R. Sometimes you can find tubes in the fleamarket/EBAY
All tubes for the S-20R are available on eBay. With most tube era radios the biggest problem is old paper, molded and electrolytic capacitors. These should all be changed out. Tubes are surprisingly robust even after all of the years. They should be tested on a tube tester and by substitution before tossing them out.
What I do is take the old paper-wax capacitors out, heat them to slide the “guts” out and save the paper tube with markings on them. Insert a new capacitor inside the tube and refill with wax and re install. It works fine with those pyramid caps, but the molded caps there might not be much you can do other than replace them with modern caps. of course you can make a surf board and use surface mount caps but you will end up with “mixed history technology”
Hallicrafters S-20R. Did not have this model but did have S-39 and SX-110.
Speaking of vintage radios in films, the April 9th episode of NCIS Los Angeles was about a spy ring buying military plans. They had a great lesson on how Cuban numbers stations were used and how the agent would translate the encrypted message with the number pad. They also showed a 1960’s era Swan transceiver as an example of the radios that were used.
It looks like a Hallicrafters S 20 R. I had one and recognize it. Not exactly a communication receiver but gave me a lot of service with my HX50 transmitter. Not sure how it was portrayed to be used in the movie, but as a casual “walkie talkie” is a bit of a stretch.
That’s the popular WWII-era Hallicrafters S-20R Sky Champion. The “h” logo in front of the speaker grill is a dead give-away: http://www.radiomuseum.org/r/hallicraft_sky_champion_s_20r_s20r.html
An earlier story about one on this site: https://swling.com/blog/2012/08/ultimate-gift-for-dad-a-professionally-restored-hallicrafters-s-20r/
Glad you enjoyed it Thomas. My favorite WWII Ford film is “They Were Expendable” of 1945. Mainly because I’m into restoring wooden boats of the era. Netflix is currently featuring “Five Came Back”. This is a Netflix Original film that covers the efforts of five Hollywood film directors who made films (and enlisted in one way or another) for the WWII effort. More than a dozen WWII instructional or training films are featured on Netflix in support of this release. I had never seen the Ford OSS film before catching it on Netflix.
Dan,please go to Amazon.com Books and take a look
at “Behind the Scenes of They Were Expendable”.
This pictorial (and text) book was published in 2015
by a guy who was a 19 year old Navy photog at the
time,assigned to the picture.
Among other things,it was filmed in Miami and Ward
Bond did the whole picture with a broken left foot
from a recent auto accident.
The book is kinda steep but the Kindle e-book is worth
every cent (you can,er,convert it to
pdf format later?).
Thank you, rtc. I will be downloading this book during the weekend!
Yes, Thomas. The YouTube video has remastered audio that sounds much better than the Netflix version, but the Netflix optical resolution is better. Take your pick. Bonus question… In the John Ford film Al is dropped behind enemy lines. He is taken to a safe house by the underground. A radio is seen in the safe house. What is it?
Yeah, I like Netflix’s resolution and the fact there’s no video “watermark”.
It was a great little film. I’ll have to go back in the video and find the scene you’re looking for sometime.