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Government Agents vs Phantom Legion

USA 1951
produced by
Franklin Adreon (associate) for Republic
directed by Fred C. Brannon
starring Walter Reed, Mary Ellen Kay, Dick Curtis, John Pickard, Fred Coby, Pierce Lyden, George Meeker, John Pillips, Mauritz Hugo, Edmund Cobb, Eddie Dew, George Lloyd, Dale Van Sickel, Tom Steele, Arthur Space, Norval Mitchell, Frank Meredith
written by Ronald Davidson, music by Stanley Wilson, special effects by Theodore Lydecker, Howard Lydecker


review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Several trucks carrying material for the country's security and defense are hi-jacked - and the hijackers are of course helped by the fact that the trucks are sent across the country completely unguarded - and their content is smuggled out of the country to arm a (nameless) foreign power. Now the freighters who are doing these government jobs who are united in the trucking association of course start to panic before long, but instead of asking the police or even the gouvernment for help, they rely on one Hal Duncan (Walter Reed), a trucker with a past in the army and secret service. He is quick to come to the conclusion that the baddie has to be one of the association, but simply has not the means (and probably also not the intellectual capacity to figure out who), so he and his one partner, trucker Sam (John Pickard) just set up trap after trap for the baddie, but besides the fact they aren't even able to capture his two main henchman (Dick Curtis, Fred Coby), Hal is always way too quick to relay his respective traps to the association, and on the rare occasion of trying to keep it a secret, he makes a blunder out fo it some other way. So this all leads to endless car chases (with Hal's car going over some cliffs every other episode), fistfights, shootouts and all the usual stuff before Hal finally manages to get a hold of the villains secret headquarters, and even though he knows he's tracked down, the baddie decides to stay put rather than make a run for it (which he could easily do because Hal doesn't really have the police or anyone cordon off the area), and utlimately, when burning incrimating documents, he sets his office on fire, which gives Hal a lead on him ... and surely enough, he was one of the trucking association ...

Mary Ellen Kay plays "the secretary" and Hal's main squeeze, but she really doesn't have much to do.


Government Agents vs Phantom Legion is one of these Republic serials that readily shows what has gone wrong with the genre in later years: Not only is the plot formulaic, the cliffhangers are also repetitive (or how often can you pull the stunt of seeing the hero's car over the cliff only to see him leap out of it in the nick of time at the beginning of the next episode before it gets boring?), and the story definitely lacks scope - while this is supposed to concern the security of the country as a whole, no more than one agent and his sidekick seem to be responsible for the operations, and they're not doing their job all that well seeing the villain has no more than two main henchmen). On top of that, quite a few of the action scenes seem to be pulled from earlier movies, causing some quite silly explanations why vintage cars are used in these scenes. Now all that said, the thing is competently enough directed and everything, it's just so horribly routine in narrative approach that it fails to elicit much excitement, which a good serial quite simply should.


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