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Adventures of the Flying Cadets

USA 1943
produced by
Henry MacRae (associate) for Universal
directed by Lewis D.Collins, Ray Taylor
starring Johnny Downs, Bobby Jordan, Ward Wood, William 'Billy' Benedict, Eduardo Cianelli, Regis Toomey, Robert Armstrong, Charles Trowbridge, Joseph Crehan, Addison Richards, Leyland Hodgson, Ian Keith, Philip Van Zandt, Joan Blair, Selmer Jackson, Jennifer Holt, Pat Flaherty, William Forrest, Louis V.Arco, Louis Adlon, John Bagni, Robert Barron, Sven Hugo Borg, Jean Del Val, James Dime, Jimmy Carpenter, Earl Kent, John Merton, Jack Perrin, Gene Roth, Emmett Smith, Dirk Thane, Sigurd Thor, Bill Healy, Ralph Dunn, Wiliam Yetter sr, Bud Osborne, Kermit Maynard
story by Morgan Cox, screenplay by Morgan Cox, George H. Plympton, Paul Huston

serial
American World War II Propaganda

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The USA, World War II: A masked Nazi-villain called der Schwarze Henker or the Black Henchman is killing one high-ranking US-general after the other, including Major Elliott (Charles Trowbridge) the mentor of a quartet of aspiring fighter pilots, the air cadets (Johnny Downs, Bobby Jordan, Ward Wood, William 'Billy' Benedict). But somehow, the Black Hangman fixes it that allevidence for these murders leads to the air cadets, and they soon find themselves on the run from a murder charge (interestingly, other clues lead to a place in Africa called An-Kar-Ban which has nothing whatsoever to do with the air cadets, but nobody seems to notice).

Eventually, the air cadets figure that the Black Hangman wants to find out the whereabouts of An-Kar-Ban, and they turn to Gault (Robert Armstrong), one of the very few people who might know where An-Kar-Ban is, for help, and when he agrees to help them they trust him without  - which is very unfortunate since Gault really is the Black Hangman.

Fate has it that the air cadets go to Africa with Gault where he, unbeknowest to them, plans to sell An-Kar-Ban, a region incredibly rich in helium, to the Germans, despite the fact that the Gestapo and especially their top agent Heiger (Eduardo Ciannelli) are constantly trying to double-cross him.

Eventually though, the air cadets see through Gault's treachery, find An-Kar-Ban, free the old professor (Selmer Jackson) and his lovely daughter (Jennifer Holt) - who are there basically because serials like this need an old profesor and his lovely daughter, and are all picked up by Allied Forces - but so is Gault, and he is hell-bent on turning the tables on everyone else, and it seems as if he is succeeding, he only makes one mistake when he fails to kill a certain Captain Carson (Regis Toomey), the only man who can prove the innocence of the air cadets without a doubt - which Carson does in the end, also seeing to it that Gault gets his just desserts.

 

Serials were never good on subtlety, narrative logic or nuanced characters - and this probably goes double for propaganda serials, made first and foremost to discredit the Krauts and the Japs and show the superiority of the Yanks. Adventures of the Flying Cadets is of course a propaganda serial, and it shows in almost every scene: Subtlety is totally thrown out of the window, characterisations are invariably one-dimensional and plotholes are gaping like nobody's business ... and yet, Adventures of the Flying Cadets is a pretty good serial: It's fast paced and high on action and it managhes to entertain throughout. Of course it's not high art (after all, it is a serial) and by no means a classic, but it's totally enjoyable cliffhanger-fare - and sometimes there's nothing better than that.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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directed by
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written by
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