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Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island
Robinson Crusoe of Mystery Island / Secret Agent Mala of the South Seas / The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island

USA 1936
produced by
Nat Levine for Republic
directed by Ray Taylor, Mack V. Wright
starring Mala, Mamo Clark, Herbert Rawlinson, William Newell, John Ward, John Dilson, Selmer Jackson, John Picorri, George Chesebro, Bob Kortman, George Cleveland, Lloyd Whitlock, Tiny Roebuck, Tracy Layne, Herbert Weber, Anthony Pawley, Allen Connor, Rex the horse, Buck the dog
written by Morgan Cox, Barry Shipman, Maurice Geraghty, music by Hugo Riesenfeld, special effects by Howard Lydecker, Theodore Lydecker, John T. Coyle, edited by William Witney, Helen Turner

serial

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A dirigible company is to make the first direct flight from San Francisco to Australia, but then it's found that the refueling post on Clipper Island is totally destroyed and the natives are angry, thus dirigible tries to make it to Australia nonstop ... and crashes. The dirigible company is less than happy about this, so they send Mala, a gouvernment agent with native roots, to Clipper Island to investigate. Mala and his sidekicks (William Newell, John Ward) - as well as Buck the dog and Rex the horse - soon make the acquaintance of Melani (Mamo Clark), the natives' Princess who is actually quite sympathetic to Mala's agenda ... but she has strong opposition in the form of High Priest Porotu (John Picorri), who's actually in league with a spy ring operating on the island under the orders of mysterious H.K., who wants to destroy the dirigible company and who resides back in San Francisco. Porotu manages to keep his natives in check because the baddies control the volcano and are able to make it erupt every time Porotu's grip on his people loosens. But amidst fights and chases and all sorts of action, on land, on water and in the air, Mala gets closer and closer to the truth - and ultimately, he gets back to San Francisco in hopes to unmask H.K., whom he figures to be one of three shareholders of the dirigible company (Herbert Rawlinson, John Dilson, Selmer Jackson), but before he can unmask him in San Francisco, H.K. breaks camp, and incidently all three shareholders travel to Clipper Island in another dirigible - so whoever-it-is will be identified only on the island.

On Clipper Island, Princess Melani has since been seized by Porotu's goons and accused of high treason, but Mala saves her and restores her reputation while having Porotu expelled. Then he saves the dirigible from certain destruction, learns all three shareholders have been kidnapped by the spy ring, learns who H.K. is (Selmer Jackson) when he tries to spring the shareholders, and then frees everybody just before the baddies blow up the volcano on Clipper Island, something that instantly falls back on all the baddies as the debris sinks their getaway submarine as well as felling Porotu, while Mala and Melani finally become a couple.

 

Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island is your typical 1930s serial with all the right elements in the right places: Plenty of adventure, exotic locale, romance, and a boy's adventure logic to everything. That said, there's also great variety in the action going on, some pretty good miniature effects, and a nice pacing to everything. Sure, on the other hand, hero Mala's rather wooden in his role, some of the glaring holes in (narrative as well as factual) logic are too big to ignored, and really don't look for any depth here ... but as a serial, this one's pretty good entertainment and probably one of the most fun of its era.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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written by
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