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The Mystery Squadron

USA 1933
produced by
Nat Levine for Mascot
directed by Colbert Clark, David Howard
starring Bob Steele, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Lucile Browne, Jack Mulhall, Purnell Pratt, Robert Frazer, J. Carrol Naish, Bob Kortman, Lafe McKee, Edward Hearn, Kernan Cripps, Edward Peil sr, Jack Mower, Jack Perrin, Horace B. Carpenter, Wally Wales, Lloyd Whitlock, Richard Cramer
screenplay by Colbert Clark, Wyndham Gittens, David Howard, Barney Sarecky, based on a story by Sherman L. Lowe, Al Martin, music by Lee Zahler


review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Stephen Gray (Lafe McKee) tries to build a dam near San Juan, which a mysterious villain called the Black Ace tries to prevent at any cost, mainly because he mines a secret goldmine in the area that is to be flooded. So the Black Ace regularly sends his fleet of flyers known as the Mystery Squadron to San Juan to threaten Gray and sabotage his progress. But Gray is not one to give in easily either, so he sends for ace flyers Fred (Bob Steele) and Bill (Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams) to guard the dam and investigate on his behalf.

Initially though, Fred and Bill seem to be less than successful when they are first (erroneously) identified as mystery fliers by Gray's own daughter Dorothy (Lucile Browne), and are then kidnapped by the real Mystery Squadron and forced to jopin the outfit ... Fred and Bill manage to escape though.

Eventually, Fred and Bill can even come up with quite a number of suspects for being the Black Ace, including the local physician Doctor Flint (Robert Frazer) - who knows the secret passsageways of the local hotel everyone seems to be staying at a tad too well to be a good guy - and Johnson (Purnell Pratt), Gray's competitor - who seems to be a tad too happy about the Mystery Squadron's attacks to be one of the good guys. And then there's Martin (Edward Peil sr), the owner of the local hotel, who claims to be the actual owner of the goldmine ...

Of course, after many chases by foot, by plane and by automobile, which also leads our heroes into the secret hide-out of the Mystery Squadron, an airplane hangar inside a cave that can be mechanically closed to avoid suspicion, neither of above suspects proves to be the Black Ace, but HanK Davis (Jack Mulhall), who always posed as a friend of Fred and Bill and who was actually the man who got them to work with Gray in the first place. But in reality, he conspired with Doc Flint (whom he later killed) and cheated Martin out of his goldmine, and Johnson, Gray's competitor for the dam-project, actually investigated in that matter.

When he's found out, Hank Davis makes a daring escape by aeroplane ... but in the end falls victim to his own planes in-built flamethrower ...


A typical Mascot serial in every respect: A mystery play with a hooded villain, whose identity is not revealed until the very last chapter (though this time around, the villain is rather easy to guess), a script where narrative logic often enough gives room to action scenes to keep things going, a house with more secret passageways than actual rooms, suspicious characters aplenty, pulp mainstays aplenty, a few sci-fi elements thrown into the mix, and of course lots of stunts and special effects ranging from the quite ok to the dirt-cheap, and all carried by a genuine love for the genre ... one just has to love these Mascot serials (or hate them).

This one has the benefit of Bob Steele and Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams as a quite capable heroic duo, some great airplane footage from the 1930's, and some miniature airplane effects that look quite good for its time. Serial-fans should not be disappointed.


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