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Adventures of Smilin' Jack

USA 1943
produced by
Ford L. Beebe for Universal
directed by Lewis D.Collins, Ray Taylor
starring Tom Brown, Rose Hobart, Edgar Barrier, Marjorie Lord, Keye Luke, Sidney Toler, Cyril Delevanti, Philip Ahn, Nigel De Brulier, Turhan Bey, David Hoffman, Jay Novello, Edward Peil sr, Wheeler Oakman, Victor Wong, Stanley Blystone, Luke Chan
written by Morgan Cox, based on a newspaper story by Zack Mosley, music by Milton Rosen

American World War II propaganda

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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1941: Because his country is on the brink of entering World War II, American ace pilot Jack Martin (Tom Brown) in China is bitten by the patriotic bug and wants to return to the USA to train fighter pilots and, if necessary, join the war himself. But his friend General Kai Ling (Sidney Toler) persuades him to fly one last mission ... and fetch his excellency Mah Ling (Cyril Delevanti) of Mandon, one of the very few men who knows the location of a secret supply route from India to China that would give China another lifeline in their losing war against the Japanes ... and how could Jack refuse such a request ?

And soon enough, Jack, together with Captain Wing (Keye Luke), Tommy (Edgar Barrier) and his sister Janet (Marjorie Lord) and their friend, foreign correspondent Gertrude Müller (Rose Hobart) are off to fetch Mah Lin, along with his servant Wu Tan (Philip Ahn). Soon though, they have to realize that a Japanese organisation called the Black Samurai is also after Mah Lin's secret, and if they don't get it, they want to at least kill Mah Lin, so China can't profit from it either. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the Black Samurai's leader, the German Fräulein von Teufel is amongst Jack's entourage ... it's Gertrude Müller, somehow her name does seem to give her away ...

What further complicates matters is that Mah Lin won't give the secret of the route to India away just like that, he first wants China, Great Britain (then still making the Indian policy) and the USA to guarantee that they won't continue to use the route after the war so his province will be secured its isolated but peaceful state.

So first, our heroes are off to Chungking, which is presently bombarded by the Japanese, then to Hong Kong, where no stone is left unturned by the Black Samurai to abduct or kill Mah Lin, then everybody flies off to Honolulu ... but the plane is shot out of the sky by a Japanese sub. Somehow though, Jack and his friends manage to take over the sub ... where Jack has to learn the Japs are planning to attack Pearl Harbour unannounced and drag the USA into the war. Desperately, Jack tries to warn the proper authorities, but first, the radio on the sub is broken, then an American battleship Jack hitchhikes turns out to be overtaken by the Japanese, and when he finally gets through to America, he has to learn he comes too late ...

But still, he has managed to bring Mah Lin here ... unfortunately his signing of the last papers with the USA that would finally prompt him to reveal his secret is delayed a bit too long, and once again, the Black Samurai kidnap him ... and this time he is even killed, just before Jack can save him - but at least he can tell Jack whom to turn to for the secret (even if that means going all the way back to China). But unfortunately, Fräulein von Teufel (good old Gertrude) has tampered with some evidence quite a bit so it looks as if Jack personally has shot Mah Lin ... and he can escape his own arrest only just.

Only later can he prove his innocence, but now it's back to China to get the secret of the route to India from Mandon's holyman Lo San (Nigel de Brulier), the only other man who knows the secret ... but of course, the Black Samurai are hot on Jeck's trail and even plant evidence on him that he has killed Mah Lin after all - so Jack has to go through one of these test of the gods to prove his innocence, and play the perfect decoy for the Black Samurai, until he finally finds out that Fräulein von Teufel is his very good friend Gertrude Müller. But Miss Müller has already trapped him and all of his friends in a basement that's about to be bombarded ... just too bad the bombardment starts half an hour early (because these Japs want to get rid of Fräulein von Teufel, actually), and in the end it's only her who dies in the basement, while Jack could free himself and his friends just in time, and with the secret of the route to India, he gives China another lifeline.


First things first: Of course, Adventures of Smilin' Jack is blunt and shameless army propaganda in the light of the Second World War, no two ways about it. The outcome however is a lively and fast paced serial that keeps the action on a high level - both in terms of quality and of quantity, and does benefit from some cleverly inserted real life war footage. That all said, it's hardly the best serial ever, or even remotely great, it's just good entertainment, if you are in the serial mood.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




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


A Killer Conversation

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

out now on DVD