“Radio Hams” 1939 Film – Neat Look to the Past AND the Future of Amateur Radio


Cliffhanger proves truth stranger than fiction. Rarely does a top movie cameraman become a film’s central figure portrayed by an actor. But in this little MGM short, actor Alonzo Price plays the role of real-life cameraman, world traveler, and adventurer Clyde DeVinna. One of his round-the-world trips took DeVinna to film scenes for “Eskimo” in Alaska, where he “camped out” in an igloo-like hut. Inside that closed space, DeVinna’s gasoline heater emits carbon monoxide fumes that begin to overcome the cameraman. As he is losing consciousness, he uses his amateur short-wave radio to call for help — all the way to a fellow “ham” in New Zealand. The latter radios the SOS to a second “ham” in Hawaii, who relays the call to a 3d “ham” elsewhere in Alaska. That ham desperately attempts to contact police near the location of DeVinna’s hut, in hopes that somehow a doctor could be found to get to DeVinna before it’s too late… Written by Prof Steven P Hill, Cinema Studies, Univ. of Illinois.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: