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COMPLETE FILMOGRAPHY WITH SYNOPSIS
Writer (feature film)
Sailors try to salvage a sunken treasure guarded by zombie seamen.
Johnny Weissmuller guides Professor Blakely (Selmer Jackson) and his daughter Nora (Angela Stevens) into forbidden Kirundi land, home of the fire-worshipers, in search of missing scientist Ralph Dixon (William M. Griffith). In addition to finding Dixon worshiped as a fire god, they uncover a treasure of sapphires, rout a party of renegade whites and Johnny rescues Nora from flaming death on a ritual altar just before a volcano erupts molten death.
Dr. Grood (Michael Fox) has succeeded in winning control over the planet Ergro as the first step in his desired conquest of the Universe. Reporter Rex Barrow (Judd Holdren), his photographer Tim Johnson (Ted Thorpe), Professor Edmund Dorn (Forrest Taylor) and his daughter Ella (Vivian Mason) are all captured by Grood, who plans to make use of the professor's knowledge. With the help of the professor's inventions, Rex is able to free Ergro of Grood's domination, while Grood is sent on an endless voyage into space.
Based on the comic book character "Thun'Da, King of the Congo," a Tarzan imitator, whose only comic of any value is the first one rendered entirely by cult artist Frank Frazetta, this was Columbia's 48th serial and the seventh and last serial starring Buster Crabbe. Crabbe plays U.S.A.F. Captain Roger Drum who shoots down an unidentified plane whose pilot was bound for Africa to deliver a message to a subversive group. Drum takes his place, makes the flight and crashes in the jungle. The rock people, led by Princess Phi (Gloria Dea, not Gloria Dee as shown by some sources), rescue him and take him to their temple. The subversives, led by Boris (Leonard Penn), appear and Drum rings a temple gong in alarm, and its sound crumbles the walls, burying him in debris at the end of Chapter One, "Mission of Menace." Chapter Two, "Red Shadows in the Jungle" finds Drum being proclaimed Thunda, King of the Congo, by the natives but is still mistrusted by Princess Phi and her assistant Nahee (Neyle Morrow), still miffed that he rang the wrong gong. This goes on for 15 chapters before Thundra reunites the Rock and Cave People and clears the jungle of all the villains with Russian names.
Based on a successful comic book that began in 1941, the Blackhawks were seven flyers who banded together during WW II to fight the Nazis. After the war, they continued to fight evil where ever they find it. In this movie, they are battling a group of spies and saboteurs bent on destroying democracy. The Blackhawks foil a succession of plots, with a cliff hanger ending in each episode.
The story begins in 1865, during the Civil War, when Captain Cyrus Harding (Richard Crane), prisoner of the Confederates, escapes in an enemy baloon with war correspondent Gideon Spilett (Hugh Prosser); Jack Pencroft (Marshall Reed), a sailor; Herbert "Bert" Brown (Ralph Hodges), Pencroft's adopted son, and Neb (Bernard Hamilton), Harding's black servant. A sailor with an adopted son and a servant in jail with his master is rather mysterious in itself. Hey, move on, it's a Katzman serial from Columbia. The baloon drifts in space for days and finally lands on a desert island. Also landing, in a better aircraft, is Rulu (Karen Randle, a former Miss Oklahoma in the Miss America pagent), a visitor from Mercury who seeks a radio-active material that will enable her to manufacture an explosive that will destroy the world or, at least, the portion known as Earth. Since it is in the 1860's and she has a spacecraft that will make the journey from Mercury to Earth, and all of the earthlings are riding horses or walking, her problem with Earth is none too clear, other than possibly hacked about not winning the Miss America contest. Harding and his hardy crew fight 15 chapters of battles against the island's natives, some passing-by pirates led by reliable Gene Roth, and Rulu and her Mercury henchmen, wearing the same headgear that "The Spider" wore in two previous Columbia serials, indicating the costume department went overboard on black headcoverings with spider webs on them earlier in the decade. Harding and his men are frequently aided by Captain Nemo, a man of mystery in charge of the only submarine (the Nautilus) around at the time other than the "Monitor" and the "Merrimac." Rulu, who also has the power to put grown men into a trance and does so a couple of times, including the native chief and all of his warriors, finally has enough of all the problems, but has gathered up enough "radio-active" material to at least destroy the island and does so.
Two ex-Navy buddies travel to a tropical island to help search for a fugitive Nazi and a fortune in diamonds stolen by him during WWII, and encounter multiple dangers at the hand of a gang also seeking the treasure for the island's corrupt governor.
Columbia's 43rd serial finds Lex Luthor (Lyle Talbot), secretly the Atom Man, blackmailing the city of Metropolis by threatening to destroy the entire community. Perry White (Pierre Watkin), editor of "The Daily Planet", assigns Lois Lane (Noel Neill), Jimmy Olson (Tommy Bond) and Clark Kent/Superman (Kirk Alyn)to cover the story. Luthor invents a number of deadly devices to plague the city, including a disintegrating machine which can reduce people to their basic atoms and reassemble them in another place. But Superman manages to thwart each scheme. Since Kryptonite can rob Superman of his powers, Luthor decides to create a synthetic Kryptonite and putters about obtaining the necessary ingredients: plutonium, radium and the undefined 'etc.'(in order to keep viewers from trying this at home.) Luthor places the Kryptonite at the launching of a ship, with Superman in attendance. He is exposed to the Kryptonite and passes out. Superman is taken off in an ambulance driven by Luthor's henchmen, and he is now under the control of Luthor. Superman is placed in a device, a lever is pulled, and the Man of Steel vanishes into "The Empty Doom." With eight chapters remaining, the odds are high he will return. Most of chapter 7 is a repeat of the origin story from chapter 1 of Columbia's first "Superman" serial, and this serial also finds a way to work in stock footage from Ken Maynard's 1936 "Avenging Waters," minus ol' Ken and his hoss Tarzan.
Antisocial Prof. Hammil's Remote Control device, which enables the user to take over any motor vehicle within 50 miles (!), is stolen by The Wizard, black-hooded mastermind, and his gang. Batman and Robin (who drive about in a standard convertible) must prevent the Wizard from obtaining diamonds, needed as fuel for the device, and rescue magazine photographer Vicki Vale from periodic perils. Where is the Wizard's base, reached only by remote controlled submarine? Which of several suspicious characters hides beneath the Wizard's hood?
Columbia's 33rd serial (made between "Jack Armstrong" and "The Sea Hound") was based on the character that first appeared in "Action Comics" No. 42, who was a radio singing cowboy who doubled as a crime-fighting, motorcycle-riding crime-fighter with a pre-teen Chinese boy, Stuff, as his answer to Batman's Robin, although Stuff ran a lot or errands that Robin didn't have to do since the Dynamic Duo had Alfred the Butler (both versions) to do those. In the serial version, Stuff became a white, draft-age sidekick played by George Offerman Jr.(and we are still looking for any film made in the 30's and 40's that this actor was billed as the incorrect George Offerman rather than the correct George Offerman Jr), which fit right in with the costume changes that Columbia tagged The Vigilante character with; a snappy-brim fedora and a Montgomery Ward catalog white Gene Autry- style shirt instead of the large flat-brimmed hat and double-button blue shirt he wore in the comic books. The nose-chin covering bandana is about all that survived the comic book to screen transfer. They also changed Greg Sanders, the Vigilante's alter-ego from a radio troubador to a western film actor and miscast Ralph Byrd in the role (they could have held John Hart over from the previous serial who would have fit the role better) as a government agent known as the Vigilante investigating the case of the "100 Tears of Blood", which are rubies sought by a gang led by the unknown (ha!)X-1 and the mysterious Prince Amil Hassan (Robert Barron.) While not the worst of the Katzman-produced serials, the best thing about it remains Ramsay Ames, coming toward or going away from the camera.
Columbia's 34th serial production starring Buster Crabbe, the Serial King himself, who had the lead in five from Universal and two for Columbia, was based on the radio serial,("Captain Silver's Log of) The Sea Hound", heard on the Blue Network 1942-44,on Mutual 1946-47 and, briefly on ABC in 1948, and also the comic book (six issues across four years) that had little demand in 1945-49 and not much now among Golden Age collectors, with Crabbe, playing Captain Silver and getting more money for it than producer Sam Katzman paid for the rights to use the character, and some claim the copyright owner may have paid Katzman to use the character. Captain Silver (Buster Crabbe) and his friends---Jerry (Ralph Hodges) and seagoing cowboy Tex (Jimmy Lloyd) and a chinese inventor named Kukai (Spencer Chan) ---are cruising through tropical waters, between California and Catalina, aboard the "Sea Hound" when they pick up an SOS from the yacht "Esmeralda." Silver sails to Typhoon Cove and finds the yacht under attack by "pirates." Aboard the attacked craft are Ann Whitney (Pamela Blake), yacht owner Stanley Rand (Hugh Prosser) and Vardman (Pierce Lyden.) Silver and crew beat off the attackers and he learns that Ann is searching for her father, John Whitney (Milton Kibbee), who vanished into the jungle during a search for a fabulous treasure of Spanish gold. Later, Silver discovers the "pirates" are in the employ of a sinister master-criminal known as the Admiral (Robert Barron.) Using a map in Rand's possession, Silver locates the treasure chest when he descends to the ocean floor in a diving suit, but finds it empty. 14 water-logged, none-too-thrilling chapters later, Silver locates the treasure, rescues Ann's father and puts an end to the Admiral and his henchmen, including Rand and Vardman who veteran serial-watchers had an eye on as far back as chapter 1.
A fore-runner and a semi- slight version of "Take Care of My Little Girl" from Sam Katzman, but pert-and-pretty Jean Porter had a knack for making Katzman's pictures look better than they were. Here, she (as Joanne Leeds), interrupts her carnival singing career to enroll as a freshman at Upton College. She quickly encounters the snobbery of the sorority girls because of her background. But the sorority is reorganized on democratic principles and she is invited to join, although it is never made too clear why she would want to join this group of airheads anyway.
Universal's 64th of 69 sound-era serials (between "Jungle Queen" with Ruth Roman and their 2nd version of "Secret Agent X-9" with Lloyd Bridges), is set in 1938 with Nazi agents kidnapping scientist Professor Ellwood Henderson (Byron Foulger, at his meekest, mildest and milquetoast-irritating best) in order to get his Orotron machine that can extract gold from seawater. Operating under the secret leadership of "The Master Key", with the operatives headed by a German agent posing as a private investigator named Garrett Donovan (Addison Richards), the gang is trailed by Federal agent Tom Brant (Milburn Stone), aided by police detective Lieutenant Jack Ryan (Dennis Moore) and newspaper reporter Janet Lowe (Jan Wiley.) Also aiding in the quest is Police Chief William J. O'Brien (Russell Hicks) and his secretary Dorothy Arnold (Maris Wrixon.) It takes Brant nearly 12 of the 13 episodes to figure out that since the Nazis learn of his and Ryan's plans almost before they clear police headquarters, then "The Master Key" must be somebody close to them. Most of the leg-work is done by a group of boys under the leadership of candy-notions store owner Aggie (Sarah Padden) with the leader of the club boys being one Alfred La Rue (prior to his "Lash" days) as Migsy. Lots of stock street footage from earlier Dead Ends/Little Tough Guys films made by Universal, and several other Universal serials.
Flying students Danny Collins (Johnny Downs), Jinx Roberts (Bobby Jordan), Scrapper Mackay (Ward Wood) and Zombie Parker (Billy Benedict) are suspected of a series of murders perpetrated by a Nazi agent known as the Black Hangman. The latter is an engineer, Arthur Galt (Robert Armstrong), who has disposed of several people who accompanied him on an expedition which located lost helium deposits in Africa. Galt has also imprisoned the remaining members of the expedition, Professor Mason (Selmer Jackson) and his daughter Andre (Jennifer Holt). Galt plans to sell the helium to Germany through a Gestapo ring headed by Karl Von Heiger (Eduardo Ciannelli). The four cadets, thinking Galt is their friend, fly with him to Africa as they hope to track down Von Heiger, thinking he is the Black Hangman, and clear their own names of the murder charges. They are pursued to Africa by U.S. Army Intelligence officer Captain Ralph Carson (Regis Toomey).
The third of Universal's three serials headlining the Dead End Kids and Little Tough Guys (preceded by "Junior G-Men" and "Sea Raiders") is the 55th of Universal's sound-era serials (followed "Gang Busters" and ahead of "Overland Mail") and is the last 12-chapter serial (despite some source that lists it as 13 chapters) released by Universal; "Overland Mail" had 15 episodes while the remaining 13 serials released by Universal Pictures (none of which were ever distributed to theatres by MCA/Universal which didn't exist in the years that Universal produced serials) were all 13 episodes. This one finds the gang, Billy "Ace" Holden (Billy Halop), "Bolts" Larson (Huntz Hall), "Stick" Munsey (Gabriel Dell) and "Greaseball" Plunkett (Bernard Punsly) working in an airplane/auto junk yard owned by Ace's father (Eddy Waller.) Their truck is stolen by members of a fifth column organization, the Order of the Black Dragonfly, but when government agent Don Ames (Richard Lane) returns the recovered truck, Ace, who distrusts law men, refuses to give Ames a description of the men who stole the truck. Ames decides to let Jerry Markham (Frank Albertson), young leader of the Junior G-Men, who knows both Ace and his brother Eddie (Gene Reynolds) through their mutual interest in airplanes and flying, try to gain Ace's cooperation. The Axis agents, Araka (Turhan Bey), Augar (John Bagni), Beal (John Bleifer), Monk (Noel Cravat) and Comora (Edward Forrest), report to the Japanese leader of the Black Dragonfly, The Baron (Lionel Atwill), at his farmhouse headquarters outside the city. In an attempt to track down the spies, Ace and his friends drive their truck near the farm and are spotted by the enemy agents. Monk, the gang's pilot, tries to bomb the truck and the boys appear doomed. But not so with many chapters still remaining in this 12-chapter-only serial
Billy, Fuzzy, and Jeff are on the run from the law again. This time they travel to a new town where Fuzzy is made Marshal. But Hardy and his outlaw gang control the town and none of the previous Marshals survived for very long.
Columbia's 14th serial (between "White Eagle" and "The Iron Claw") and the second serial based upon the character in the pulp magazine from Street and Smith "The Spider Magazine." Some sources, evidently based on their knowledge that L. Ron Hubbard and Norvell Page wrote stories for that magazine, have incorrectly credited them as being writers of this serial. The only serial that L. Ron Hubbard wrote was 1938's "The Secret of Treasure Island" filmed by Columbia, and the only connection Page has is that he wrote stories about the character in the magazine. Chapter One, "The Stolen Plans", has a gang of saboteurs, led by The Gargoyle, a mysterious and powerful agent for an unnamed country, playing havoc with National Defense projects. Socialite Richard Wentworth (Warren Hull), alias the Spider, returns to continue his crusade against the underworld. Wentworth calls a meeting of the nation's biggest business men, but the Gargoyle's men disrupt it with a tear-gas bomb. Chasing after them, Wentworth is taken prisoner and placed aboard an airplane. The pilot sets it afire and bails out, with Wentworth unconscious in the plunging-to-earth airplane as the first episode ends. Knox Manning asking if this is the end is easily answered by those who knew this was a 15 chapter serial, and that neither The Spider (in chapter two) nor Blinky McQuade (in chapter four) had yet made an entrance. The quest by Wentworth/Spider/McQuade to learn the identity of the Gargoyle isn't helped any by the fact that he is one of the businessnmen in attendance at every meeting Wentworth calls to discuss his future plans. Based on pure fun, this is one of the, to use a relative term, best of the James W. Horne-directed serials, but the absence of James Craven foaming at the mouth and screaming at the henchmen - "Idiots! Idiots! I'm surrounded by idiots!" - is sorely missed.
In search of a boxing camp, a street tough mistakenly signs on with a conservation group.
A mysterious plague, the Purple Death, ravages the earth. Dr. Zarkov, investigating in his spaceship, finds a ship from planet Mongo seeding the atmosphere with dust. Sure enough, Ming the Merciless is up to his old tricks. So it's back to Mongo for Flash, Dale, and Zarkov, this time with ready-made allies waiting: Prince Barin of Arboria and Queen Fria of the frozen northern land of Frigia; where, it so happens, is found polarite, antidote to the plague. But Ming will use all his forces to keep our heroes from thwarting his plans of conquest...
Kent wants the Allen ranch. So he has Steve and his men rustle their cattle using Pete as an informant. When the Trigger Pals Lucky, Stormy, and Fuzzy fight back, Kent frames Stormy for the rustling.
"The Phantom Creeps" was Universal's 44th sound-era serial (between "The Oregon Trail" and "The Green Hornet")and was re-issued to theatres in 1949 by Commonwealth Pictures Corporation, a distribution set-up handling primarily Universal re-issues. Commonwealth had no hand at all in the production of this serial (as incorrectly shown on site) as they were a distribution company only. Some sources mistakenly identify them as the serial producer because all of the 1949 re-issue prints (and the 16mm prints sold to television circa 1952) show "Commonwealth Pictures Corp. Presents" above the title.There is a whole lot of difference between "presenting" and "producing", a fact that some sources appear to not know or don't care. The serial is of interest to some collectors as it re-unites Bela Lugosi and Edwin Stanley from 1931's "Dracula", and the crater-discovery of the meteorite fragment by Zorka (Bela Lugosi)in the serial is stock footage from Universal's 1936 "The Invisible Ray." The stock footage of an explosion and avalanche used in Chapter 11 comes from Universal's 1934 serial, "The Vanishing Shadow." Plot finds eccentric scientist Dr. Alex Zorka (Bela Lugosi)carrying on various experiments in his secret laboratory with the aid of his assistant Monk (Jack C. Smith). Zorka has invented many strange weapons of warfare, including a devisualizer belt which renders him invisible; a terrifying, eight-foot tall robot (played by stuntman Edwin "Bud" Wolfe and not circus giant Bud Wolff), and he also has a deadly meteorite fragment (which he found in a 1936 movie with Boris Karloff)from which he extracts an element which can induce suspended animation in an entire army. Foreign spies, operating under the guise of a foreign language school (great cover), are trying to buy or (mostly) steal the meteorite element, while his former partner, Dr. Fred Mallory (Edwin Stanley), miffed that Zorka will not turn his inventions over to the U. S. Government, blows the whistle on him to Captain Bob West (Robert Kent) of the Military Intelligence Department. Tired of answering the door and saying no to the spies and the government, Zorka moves his lab and when his beloved wife (Dora Clement) is killed, Zorka, puttering around for his own amusement up to this point, gets hacked off as only Lugosi can, swears eternal vengeance against society, and decides to use his inventions to make himself world dictator. And would have if not for his assistant Monk, an escaped convict virtually enslaved by Zorka, who is cowardly, treacherous and totally incompetent, and whose accidental or deliberate interference with Zorka's efforts repeatedly frustrates his master's grand schemes.
It's time for the big rodeo and it's Bob of the Allen ranch against Luke Williams of the Barns ranch. With Bob leading after the first day, Sands and Trigger kidnap him to keep him from winning.
Kent wants the Allen ranch. So he has Steve and his men rustle their cattle using Pete as an informant. When the Trigger Pals Lucky, Stormy, and Fuzzy fight back, Kent frames Stormy for the rustling.
Tom Grant has found a rich gold vein and Bart Eaton is after it. Tom's sister Mary heads for the gold fields and Eaton and his men follow. Eaton teams up with Ace Daggett who plans to doublecross him and get the gold for himself. They frame Tom for murder and then try to get him to sign over his claim. The famous scout Tex Houston is on hand, escaping the attempts on his life, saving Mary from various perils, and trying to bring in the real killer and clear Tom.
Ken and Happy, looking for their friend Cherokee, run into an outlaw gang led by Ritter who have been terrorizing the ranchers. Ken figures that one of the prominent citizens is the real boss and sets a trap to find him.
The jungle king helps a young woman rescue her father from the high priest of a lost city.
An adventure serial presented in 12 chapters. Inventor Thomas Edmunds (Desmond) uses a superplane, 'The Phantom,' to protect his new anti-gravity invention, the Contragrav, from theft.
Ranchers Walton and Turner are losing cattle to rustlers and they each blame the other. After Walton and Clint Turner argue, Walton is found shot and Sheriff Gordon has to arrest his friend Clint. With Clint scheduled to be hung, Gordon desperately looks for evidence to clear him.
1. PALS IN BUCKSKIN: George Woods has found gold and Jack Manning returns east with some for George's brother Tom. Just as he finds Tom's daughter Mary, her team runs away and he drops the gold which Rance Carter picks up. 2. CALL TO ARMS: As Woods is without money, Rance jealous of Mary's attraction to Jack, finances his trip west on the provision that Jack doesn't go. As the wagon train pulls out Jack is arrested for stealing the gold. 3. FURNACE OF FEAR: Released from jail, Jack catches up with the wagon train just as a prairie fire swoops down on Mary. 4. RED TERROR: The Indians attack the wagon train. 5. CIRCLE OF DEATH. Jack's friend Bill retuns with help. During the fight Rance shoots Woods. 6. HATE'S ARVEST: When Jack claims that Rance has the missing gold, they fight and just as Jack knocks him out Jack is shot. 7. HOSTAGE OF FEAR: Mary is kidnaped and Jack trails the kidnapers to an Indian village where Jack is attacked by Indians. 8. DAGGER DUEL: Forced to fight a knife duel, Jack is saved by friend Bill. 9. BLAST OF DEATH: Rance now gets the Indians to go on the war path and they attack. Fleeing into a mine shaft, Jack and Mary are caugh just as an explosive charge goes off. 10. REDSKIN'S REVENGE: When Rance kills the Chief's son and tells the Chief Jack did it, the Chief prepares to kill Jack. 11. FRONTIERS OF FLAME: Escaping from the Indians, Jack trails Mary's captors to a town set aflame by the Indians and finds her trapped in a burning building. 12. TRAIL'S END:
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