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The Adventures of Captain Marvel

USA 1941
produced by
Republic
directed by William Witney, John English
starring Tom Tyler, Frank Coghlan jr, William Benedict, Louise Currie, Robert Strange, Harry Worth, Bryant Washburn, John Davidson, George Pembroke, George Lynn, Reed Hadley, Jack Mulhall, Kenne Duncan, Nigel De Brulier, John Bagni, Carleton Young, Leyland Hodgson, Stanley Price, Ernest Sarracino, Tetsu Komai, Ed Cassidy, Armand Cortes, Eddie Dew
based on Captain Marvel, created by Earl Binder, Otto Binder, drawn by C.C.Beck, published by Fawcett Comics

serial
Captain Marvel

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Teenage Billy Batson (Frank Coghlan jr - who was actually 25 when this serial was made) accompanies professor Malcolm's (Robert Strange) expedition to an ancient temple in Siam, where the professor & his fellow scientists discover a sculpture of a scorpion with lenses placed on its tail & in its claws that, when rightly aligned, can turn any base metal into gold and be used as an atom smasher. Billy meanwhile, cut off from the others by an earthquake, finds old wise man Shazam (Nigel De Brulier) in one of the caves, who infests him, the purestt of the expedition, with the power to turn into the superhero Captain Marvel (then played by Tom Tyler) everytime Billy says Shazam, to preserve good in the world.

Not a moment too soon it seems since the hooded badman Scorpion is after the scorpion, & he won't even be stopped by the fact that the scientists - fearing the power of the scorpion - have disassembled it into seperate pieces, with each of them - scientists Malcolm, Bentley (Harry Worth), Carlyle (Bryant Washburne), Lang (George Pembroke), Fisher (George Lynn) & their native guide Tal Jotali (John Davidson) - getting one of the scorpion's lenses, & they have entrusted young Billy with the scroll with instructions to reassemble it.

When still in Siam, the Scorpion - with the help of a native tribe led by Rahman Bar (Reed Hadley) who think the Scoprpion their god - gets his hands on the scroll, & back in America, he tries to get his hands on the other parts as well, by means of stealing, terror & murder - & even though Captain Marvel does everything to thwart his plans he seems to succeed. Only young Billy does suspect that one of the scientists of the expedition or their guide just ahs to be the Scorpion, but the others feel only insulted by his suspicions (even though they are true), & so Carlyle, Fisher & Lang are soon killed by the Scorpion for their efforts to rotect the lenses, but then it is found out that Fisher had not taken his lense to America at all but hidden in the temple back in Siam, so all the survivors of the expedition - besides Malcolm, Bentley, Tal Jotali & Billy that's also Billy's sidekick Whitey (William Benedict) & Malcolm's secretary, Billy's love interest & all-around damsel in distress Betty (Louise Currie) - have to go back to the Siamese temple ... where they are of course threatened by Rahman Bar's natives every step of the way. In the end Rahman Bar even goes so far as to cause a neighbouring volcano to errupt just to show his tribe how angry their god is. Only Tal Jolali can prevent the natives from making an all-out attack. Professors Malcolm & Bentley have meanwhile found Lang's lense in the temple ... when Bentley proves to be the Scorpion & shoots Malcolm in cold blood, getting away with the lense. But to make good his getaway he has to convince the natives to take care of Whitey, Betty, Tal Jotali & Billy, who he has just learned is Captain Marvel ... but when trying to do so, he can't prevent Billy from turning into Captain Marvel again & ripping of his mask, identifying him as Bentley & proving to Rahman Bar & the natives that he was a false god. The natives of course turn against Benton, but he ends when trying to make a getaway with Betty as hostage but running into the beam of his own atom smasher.

Captain AMrvel decides that the scorpion is a too dangerour weapon to be used by mankind & throws it into the volcano ... then he turns back into Billy Batson, this time for good.

 

Despite a very formulaic story, many plotholes, & some of its superhero-ideology at best questionable & definitely childish, Adventures of Captain Marvel is an extremely entertaining serial - one of the best in my view -, that excellently blends the mystery-plot with the many well-done action-, stunt- & special effects scenes & keeps the story at a fast enough pace that makes it easy to overlook some of the incongruencies.

Captain Marvel was created by Fawcett comics as a rival to Superman, the most popular title of National Periodicals (later DC-Comics). However after a quite successful run in the 40's, Fawcett was sued by DC-Comics over too obvious similartities between the 2 superheroes & the Captain Marvel-comic series was discontinued. In an ironic turn of events, in the late 60's, DC-Comics (of all companies) bought the property & started issuing new Captain Marvel comics as well as reprinting many of the old ones. 

However they had to now call their comic-book Shazam (the word Billy says to turn into the Cap'), since Marvel Comics had bought the rights to the name Captain Marvel (because of obvious similarities to their company name) & did even publish some comic stories about their Captain Marvel, a very different superhero that was some kind of alien. These stories were pretty unremarkable & utterly uninteresting, though.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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