Cast & Crew
Daredevil "Burn-'Em-Up" Barnes risks his life racing motorcyles and fast cars on dirt tracks, competing in speed boat races and performing motion picture airplane stunts. When his best friend, a newsreel cameraman, is killed during one of his races, however, Barnes retires from the track. After assuming care for the cameraman's younger brother Bobbie, Barnes is introduced to Marjorie Temple, whom he had previously rescued on the racetrack. Marjorie, who runs a transportation company, the mainstay of which is a school bus contract, enters into a business partnership with Barnes. When Lyman Warren, an automobile manufacturer, learns that land owned by Marjorie is rich with oil, he tries to pressure her to sell her property by hiring John Drummond, a racetrack manager, to sabotage the school bus contract. By damaging her company's only bus, Warren and Drummond force Marjorie to the brink of bankruptcy. Determined to preserve the land for Marjorie, Barnes and Bobbie convince her not to sell until they have exhausted all possible means for raising the necessary funds. Unaware of Warren's involvement in the sabotage, Barnes then accepts the manufacturer's offer to earn money for Marjorie as a test driver for one of his new automobiles. During the dangerous test, which Drummond has fixed so that Barnes will be killed, one of Drummond's men, who has threatened to reveal the death plot to the authorities, is murdered. Bobbie, however, captures the murder on a motion picture camera that he had taken onto the track's proving ground. To prevent Bobbie from releasing his damning footage, Drummond kidnaps him and keeps him prisoner in his office until Barnes races to the boy's rescue. Working with the district attorney, Barnes eventually thwarts Warren's scheme and tricks him into revealing that he was behind the murder.
Burn-'Em-Up Barnes was also presented as a twelve-part serial. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, producer Nat Levine shot this production for three types of release: a twelve-chapter serial; a two-episode short film, followed by ten two-reel episodes; and an eight-reel feature. The story was planned with "definite breaks to meet the special requirements," according to the news item. Some of the above credits were taken from a print of the serial and May not reflect precisely the credits as they appeared on the feature film. Wyndham Gittens is listed in the serial's credits as a "supervising editor" after the directorial credits. A Hollywood Reporter production chart lists him as a screenwriter, and on other films, he is credited as a writer. It is presumed that his supervising editor credit refers to editing of the script, not the film itself. The Motion Picture Herald 1935 review lists the feature film's release date as December 18, 1934; the feature is not included in any release charts, however. A 1921 silent film called Burn 'Em Up Barnes, produced by Mastodon Films and directed by George Beranger, features a character named "Burn 'Em Up Barnes" who is similar to the one described in the 1934 picture, but the plot of the silent is very different from that of the 1934 production (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.0669).