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How many 'petty misdemeanors' is The Spirit arrested for in the 17 April 1949 section "Dolan Walks a Beat"? (Answer at bottom of the page)

Article by Douglas Nasluchacz

This 1987 television movie starred Sam Jones as The Spirit, with Nana Visitor as Ellen Dolan. A full listing of the cast can be found at the Internet Movie Database by clicking here.

There have also been two short films based on The Spirit sections, although not featuring the character. "Geraldo Voador" ("Flying Gerhard") is a 1994 Brazilian film based on the 5 September 1948 section, Gerhard Schnobble. The most reprinted section, the Septembe 11, 1949 section "Ten Minutes", was also made into a short film in 1989. For information about The Spirit's appearances in other media, click here.

The tv movie title

The film opens with Detective Denny Colt getting a call from his mentor about new evidence in an art forgery investigation. When he arrives at the house it is engulfed in flames. His mentor dies in his arms with only the name of a prominent Museum Curator, Simon Teasdale, to guide him in what is now a murder investigation.

Denny Colt (Sam Jones)Denny finds Simon Teasdale

Denny goes to Central City and finds that his manners and integrity do not ingratiate him with either the local law enforcement or the museum officials. He meets Commissioner Dolan, his daugther Ellen, her friend P'Gell and Eubie (Ebony) while foiling a purse snatcher. Later he gets a tip to meet a museum worker at the docks for some inside information. The informant kills Denny and his body falls into the harbor.

Commissioner DolanEllen

Comissioner Dolan and the police force consider Denny Colt dead - a terrible end to what Dolan considered a promising career. Dolan begins to admire Denny for his integrity and honesty.

The scene shifts to Wildwood cemetary where Eubie is conducting a business deal in what appears to be stolen merchandise. A groan from somwehere in the cemetery causes all the teens to run except Euby who is riveted as he watches what he thinks is a zombie rise from the grave. It turns out to be Denny Colt, bleeding from gunshot wounds, dragging himself from the nearby river.

Denny realizes that to the world he is dead and this gives him the unique ability to work outside the law. He and Eubie set up shop in an abandoned crypt as Denny regains his strength for his future endeavors.

Denny recovers and decides that a disguise is in order to protect his Denny Colt identity. The familiar blue suit, gloves, hat and mask are seen as Denny swings into action.

The Spirit

The Spirit begins to make a reputation as a crimefighter outside of the law and soon catches the attention of Comissioner Dolan, who heartly dissaproves of his methods. The Spirit makes a late night vists to Dolan's office and the Spirit reveals his identity to Dolan. The two come to an understanding that Dolan can unofficially sanction what the Spirit does. After being knocked out by Ellen, the Spirit joins the Dolans for dinner.

The Spirit begins to track down the art forgers, discovering that it is Ellen's friend P'Gell who is behind it, not the museum curator. After some close calls (very remeniscint of the Eisner stories), the Spirit battles his way past hired thugs to save the unsuspecting crowd from a bomb that P'Gell has planted in a giant cake in the museum.

The Spirit suceeds in finding the killer of his mentor, stopping the bomb, but at the cost of P'Gell getting away.

Here's what I liked:

  • The casting - it was perfect for each character
  • The homages to Eisner and the stories:
    • the scene in the foundry with Ellen
    • the scene in Dolans office with the eisenspritz in the background
    • the fight scenes in the museum
    • the window in the crypt
    • the use of light and shadows in some of the scenes
  • The origin was kept enough intact without requiring a rewrite of the main character

Here's what I disliked:

  • the character of Eubie - why did he even exist?
  • the use of daytime for some scenes - if the museum scenes had filmed at night, it would have created the necessary atmosphere for The Spirit
  • The pacing of the story - more time could have been spent on the main story, rather than the setup. (the movie feels like a pilot for a series)
  • The dialogue for some of the Spirit sounded too corny, the character could have been made just a little more human. This after all was one of the selling points of Eisner's Spirit: he was an ordinary man. The dialogue in this film has Denny sounding more like Captain America.

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Trivia Answer: Eighteen.(For more information, click here)