Friday, August 28, 2009

Spy Smasher - The BEST

can't find a trailer, but seeing a chapter is even better

so cool, that animation of today pays tribute.


Kane Richmond as Spy Smasher/Alan Armstrong and his twin brother Jack
Marguerite Chapman as Eve Corby/Jack Armstrong's fiance.
Sam Flint as Admiral Corby
Hans Schumm as The Mask
Tris Coffin as Drake

Spy Smasher, after escaping the Nazi's in France, returns to America to fight Nazi scum, while uncovering The Masks spy ring. Mistaken identity, sacrifice, secret hideouts... Spy Smasher delivers. Period.


Spy Smasher is without a doubt, the best serial- ever. And I am not saying it in a fan-worship kinda way, it really is. If you ran each chapter altogether as a solid movie, it would hold your attention and leave you feeling satisfied. When someone thinks of a Republic Serial, Spy Smasher is what they think of.

There is weight to this serial that I haven't seen in any other. Richmond does an awesome job portraying the twin brothers, and Coffin's performane steals the thunder from Hans Schumm's the Mask. It has the best plot line, the best character interactions, awesome set designs, locations, and superb acting. It feels like they held no expense. The opening sequence alone gives you a sense of patriotic duty and honor, prepping you for the fight ahead!

Spy Smasher is my favorite, and it is a gem that stands the test of time.

The Masked Marvel


William Forrest as Martin Crane
Louise Currie as Alice Hamilton
Johnny Arthur as Mura Sakima, Japanese saboteur
Rod Bacon as Jim Arnold
Richard Clarke as Frank Jeffers
Anthony Warde as 'Killer' Mace
David Bacon as Bob Barton
Bill Healy as Terry Morton
Howard C. Hickman as Warren Hamilton

Tom Steele as the Masked Marvel
Gayne Whitman as The Masked Marvel's voice

The Masked Marvel is did things a little differently, by not revealing the hero's secret identity is until the very, very end, the viewer is just as lost as the bad guys! A group of special investigators, who happen to dress alike, are trying to stop a Japanese saboteur, Sakima (played by a white guy), from sending stolen American secrets back to Japan!

image from Yesterday's Thrills and Adventures

This serial is just plain awesome. The Masked Marvel has the best hero voice of any character I can think of from serials and a business suit never looked so cool! It's so practical, why doesn't every hero follow this? Who is the Masked Marvel? Well, in chapter one we know that he reveals himself to Alice Hamilton... (that doesn't sound right) and every chapter is some ingenious plot on Sakima's part, to figure out who he is.

On a sad, crazy note- this serial has one of the most interesting true life back stories I've ever come across. I mean, this is what Hollywood stories are made of.

I won't do spoilers...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

King of the Rocketmen

There are 3 heavy hitters in my book; Spy Smasher, The Masked Marvel, and King of the Rocketmen. So lets start with these!


Tristram Coffin as Jeff King/Rocket Man
Mae Clarke as Glenda Thomas
Don Haggerty as Tony Dirken
House Peters Jr as Burt Winslow
James Craven as Professor Millard
I. Stanford Jolley as Professor Bryant
Stanley Price as Gunther Von Strum

King of the Rocketmen is a misleading title, because there are no other rocketmen in the entire 12 chapter serial. The title is as such because of the hero's name, Jeff King, played by Tristam Coffin, who for once is not playing the villain. The villain, Doctor Vulcan, needs to kill the world's leading scientists (who house themselves at Science Associates) before taking over the world. His 1st target Dr. Millard, who narrowly escapes death, lives secretly in a cave while his friend, Jeff King ala jetpack, tries to uncover who Doctor Vulcan really is. All the while, trying to keep his identity as Rocketman a secret. All this, in chapter one.

I love Rocketman. It's perfectly paced, I feel like Republic serials tend to be (but I may be a little biased, since Republic is in my top 3). The 'dame', Glenda Thomas, is not your typical damsel in distress and not seeing the villain keeps you on your toes. It's awesome seeing the Rocket suit in action and the sound effects before take off is one of my earliest memories. This was the 1st time the Rocketsuit was introduced, and it was seen in several serials after.

And flying with a jet pack... is just plain cool.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The First Post!

Yeah, the first is always the hardest. So, lets just get a few things squared away.

Why am I starting this blog?

Well, for one, it gives me something to do at 2am, but also I really want to share my love of serials and document my journey as I watch them. I just love them.

When did this love start?

I guess my dad, trying to relive his childhood, is what helped formed mine. I was watching things like Spy Smasher, King of the Rocketmen, and The Masked Marvel by the time I was 3. I listened to Amos & Andy on tapes as well as The Shadow. Sometimes I think I grew up during the wrong time period. I remember when The Rocketeer came out and thinking "They stole that idea from Rocketman!"

What's a Serial?

A Serial - or a Cliffhanger - was a short 13-20 minute movie that was part of a complete movie package during the early 1940's, and usually lasted for 12 episodes. For a dime (or was it a nickel?) kids would get a bag of popcorn and watch a few cartoons, the news, and a serial before whatever movie was about to show. The serial is action packed, with fighting taking place about 10 min in (in the good ones I'd say) and ends with some peril that the good guy needs to escape from (because really, why would I care if the bad guy is in danger?)

The Serial is a forgotten art form I think, but it spawned the basis of the biggest movie franchise in recent memory- namely Indiana Jones and Star Wars (ever wonder why Star Wars were episode 4, episode 5 and 6?)These were based on the chapter system the serial followed.

And as for Indy, wondering how in the hell he'd escape off that bridge in the Temple of Doom, was a classic cliffhanger moment.

Yes. I heart serials and this blog is just a way for me to document some of my fondest memories from my childhood and to document the new discoveries.