Cast & Crew
Fred C. Brannon
Strategic targets on Earth are being destroyed by an unknown weapon. Government security head Henderson suspects it's an "atomic ray" originating from the moon! He assigns Commando Cody, scientist and man of action with a secret flying suit, to investigate. Soon, Cody is battling Earth thugs in the pay of Krog the moon man and making trips in his experimental rocket to the moon itself, in a perilous and all but singlehanded effort to thwart the planned invasion of Earth.
Fred C. Brannon
Dale Van Sickel
Radar Men from the Moon
Graber is played by actor Clayton Moore, a famous figure at the time on television as a certain legendary masked man. Moore had a long history in serials, appearing in ten in all. In 1952, Moore was replaced on The Lone Ranger with another actor (temporarily as it turned out), thus allowing Moore to take on a rare villainous role in Radar Men from the Moon. You could not call the Radar Men "meek", since they are bent on inheriting the Earth by overwhelming force. Fortunately for the unwitting citizenry of Earth, a "secret" Government Agency directs Commando Cody (George Wallace--no, not that George Wallace), sky marshal of the universe, to "look into it." Looking into it becomes a full-fledged, twelve-chapter battle to nip the marauders' plans in the bud. Plenty of exciting action ensues, including multiple plane crashes, shoot outs, fist fights, the not-so-artful dodging of the lethal laser ray gun, and a trip to the moon that makes George Melies' influential film look like it was funded by NASA.
As one would expect from a serial, some aspects of the $173,000 production smack of its low-budget origins. The Radar Men's moonscape city is similar to a dozen interpretations of ancient Rome or mythical Atlantis, while the moon's landscape looks suspiciously like parts of southern California, Nevada, or Utah. But no matter. Radar Men does surpass its lowly birthright in one surprising area, the special effects. Years, decades even, before more advanced special effects, Commando Cody's flying sequences, courtesy of Howard and Theodore Lydecker, are actually quite sophisticated. No visible wires on this rocket-propelled hero. The shots of Commando Cody flying towards the camera are especially effective. And speaking of rocket flying, it is no mystery where the makers of Disney's The Rocketeer (1991) got the inspiration for their hero's costume. Commando Cody could sue and become Lieutenant Litigation. The optical effects of a mountain melting into lava are also impressive, if a tad too psychedelic for the 1950s.
Radar Men from the Moon reflects the pervasive fear of Soviet invasion that affected so many feature films and serials of the day. But really, the fun of this picture doesn't rest in its sophomoric comments on the era's fears and politics. It lies in discerning who is playing Commando Cody in various scenes: the wooden Wallace or his super speedy stunt double, famed stuntman Davey Sharpe. Radar Men from the Moon, looking sleek from its mastered DVD which was struck from the original 35mm nitrate camera negative and fine grains, is good fun. Look into it.
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by Scott McGee
Radar Men from the Moon
What are they going to to with him?- Joan
It's just like a burial at sea, Joan. He'll just float around and around.- Pilot
How 'bout a ride to town, mister?- Graber
Sure. Hop in.- Motorist
There's a man in a flying suit chasing us. Step on it.- Graber
I still think this is no trip for a woman.- Commando Cody
Now don't start that again. You'll be very glad to have someone along who can cook your meals.- Joan Gilbert
The clear rocket-shaped prop in Retik's moon lab previously appeared in Flight to Mars (1951).
Chapter Titles: - 1. Moon Rocket - 2. Molten Terror - 3. Bridge of Death - 4. Flight to Destruction - 5. Murder Car - 6. Hills of Death - 7. Camouflaged Destruction - 8. The Enemy Planet - 9. Battle in the Stratosphere - 10. Mass Execution - 11. Planned Pursuit - 12. Death of the Moon Man
Made by Republic in the final years of serial production, it recycled the "rocketman suit" from their highly popular serial _King of the Rocketmen (1949)_ .