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The Masked Marvel

USA 1943
produced by
William J. O'Sullivan (associate) for Republic
directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet
starring William Forrest, Louise Currie, Tom Steele, Johnny Arthur, Rod Bacon, Richard Clarke, Anthony Warde, David Bacon, Bill Healy, Howard C. Hickman, Kenneth Harlan, Thomas Louden, Eddie Parker, Duke Green, Dale Van Sickel, Wendell Niles, Lester Dorr, Ernie Adams, Roy Barcroft, Fred Graham, Stubby Kruger, George J. Lewis, George Pembroke, Stanley Price, Herbert Rawlinson, Edward Van Sloan, Crane Whitley, Gayne Whitman (voice)
written by Royal K. Cole, Ronald Davidson, Basil Dickey, Jesse Duffy, Grant Nelson, George H. Plympton, Joseph F. Poland, music by Mort Glickman, special effects by Howard Lydecker, Theodore Lydecker

serial
American World War II propaganda

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Several companies involved with the war effort are sabotaged or outright blown up by a ring of saboteurs led by Japanese superspy Sakima (Johnny Arthur), and the only thing in common is, that all those companies sabotaged are insured by the Worldwide Insurance Company. Not the company owner Hamilton (Howard C. Hickman) promises to deliver evidence that will lead to the capture of Sakima, but before he can, he's killed and the documents are stolen. Hamilton's daughter Alice (Louise Currie) and his partner Crane (William Forrest) promise to investigate his murder, and are soon joined by four investigators, Jim (Rod Bacon), Frank (Richard Clarke), Bob (David Bacon) and Terry (Bill Healy), sent to them by masked crimefighter The Masked Marvel (embodied by an uncredited Tom Steele, voiced be the equally uncredited Gayne Whitman, to keep the audience guessing), who's of course secretly one of them, but even his colleagues don't know which. From here on, Sakima and company try to hamper US war efforts in any way possible, with varying degrees of success, as they are often thwarted by the investigators or the Masked Marvel himself.

But how come Sakima's crimes are so closely connected to Worldwide Insurance? Why because Crane is secretly a traitor of course, and Sakima resides right under his office where Crane, Alice and the investigators routinely discuss the cases. Obviously, nobody suspects Crane until very late, and even two of the investigators, Jim and Frank, have to die in the line of duty, but eventually (and actually rather out of the blue, the Masked Marvel finds a trail to Crane and  eventually is quick enough to catch up with Crane and Sakima, trying to make a hasty getaway - and while Crane dies in a car crash, Sakima blows himself up with Crane's house. The Masked Marvel by the way was Bob, but it's only revealed in the last scene and is of little relevance.

 

Of course, The Masked Marvel is a blunt propaganda piece as propaganda movies just tend to be blunt (they're only slicker now), and of course it often suspends credibility to the limit, if not beyond ... but it's also a rather fine example of action serial filmmaking, with hardly a dull moment, many a fun idea (if not all make sense), well staged fights and stunts, plus it's also quite violent for a serial, with many an on-screen killing (including two of the serial's heroes), an especially ruthless secondary baddie (Anthony Warde) who lets several of his accomplices die if it helps his own escape, and in all quite a body count.

True, it's not essential viewing, a classic or even a hidden gem within the cliffhanger genre - but it's good entertainment all the same!

 

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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

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
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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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
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD