Tear Gas Squad (1940)

Joe McCabe (George Reeves) is a pharmacist who finds himself in a sticky situation when a wounded robber demands to be treated by him. Rather than treating the man, Joe places him under arrest and becomes a hero.

Joe’s older brother, Tommy (Dennis Morgan), is a nightclub singer. In the audience for his performance one night is Jerry Sullivan (Gloria Dickson), a pretty lady who finds Tommy’s act amusing since it parodies a police officer. Jerry’s family happens to be made up of cops, from her dad to her cousins. She invites him to her home for dinner, knowing they won’t take too kindly to his little parody song.

Tommy begins falling for Jerry, and after being humiliated in front of her family he decides to join the police academy to impress her.

Completely misleading promotional art makes this look like a hard-boiled crime drama! (Image: impawards.com)
Completely misleading promotional art makes this look like a hard-boiled crime drama! (Image: impawards.com)

Tommy makes it through the program much to his delight, but instead of getting the girl he soon finds himself taking on members of the gang that wants revenge on his brother for arresting the wounded robber.

Terry Morse directs 1940’s Tear Gas Squad, a film that mixes cop drama and romantic comedy. The film was written by Kenneth Gamet, Don Ryan and Charles Belden.

Tear Gas Squad has many fun and cutesy songs, all delivered by an adorable and completely charming performer. Dennis Morgan, the performer in question, completely won me over in Christmas in Connecticut and he’s just as wonderful to watch here.

This film was listed as a crime drama when it played on TCM in March, but it’s actually got a whole lot of comedy. Jerry’s snide treatment of Tommy in the beginning, forcing him to sing his police parody song for her family, is absolutely hilarious. They’re “one of those couples” I enjoy watching so much, who try so hard to pretend that they hate each other but have a ton of chemistry and will inevitably end up together.

The level of drama picks up in the final quarter of the film, shifting into actual crime drama territory rather than romantic cuteness.

Tear Gas Squad is nothing out of the ordinary. There are no big, unpredictable developments in the plot; it follows the exact path you would expect it to and doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t been seen on screen before. However, it’s such a fun little watch. With an extremely charismatic cast, a fast pace and an upbeat mood, I enjoyed watching it a whole lot and would definitely watch it again. The score: 4/5

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