Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Serial Box: Radar Men From The Moon

When the Earth is threatened by an advance strike force from the moon, consisting of one Moonman in a cave, two hired goons and a single ray cannon in the back of a truck, scientific hero Commando Cody soars into action with the flying suit and jetpack he evidently inherited from Jeff King (The King of the Rocket Men) to stop the inhabitants of Earth's only natural satellite from attcking in force.

This late Republic serial is pretty thin stuff – almost as thin as the Lunar "atmosphere." There are literally no surprises in the plot, and each cliffhanger is resolved in the most mundane way possible; often our heroes end up just walking away from danger!

That said, things move at brisk pace, the Lydecker Bros.' minature effects remain impressive after all these years (except for that shot of Earth casting a shadow on the sky backdrop), and I really love the Moonmen's tank and Cody's streamlined rocketship. Roy Barcroft makes a pretty good villain, decked out in the same outfit he'd worn several years (and pounds) previously in The Purple Monster Strikes, so Republic could re-use footage from that earlier chapterplay at Radar Men's climax.

For a sci-fi serial, though, Radar Men spends an awful lot of time Earthbound, with the Moon agent's thugs robbing banks and committing other crimes to finance their operations.

The late George Wallace seems a bit miscast as Cody – he kind of reminds me of Mr. Ed's Alan Young – but he handles the fight scenes pretty well, as does Clayton Moore (TV's Lone Ranger), as one of the Moon agent's hired thugs.

I've got this serial on the Roan Group's DVD, and the print is nearly flawless. It's another public domain flick that shows up on countless labels and usually looks like crap, but this disc is crisp, clean and can be bought at bargain prices online.

But if you're really cheap, and have 20 minutes to kill, here's the entire first chapter:

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