|Index||7 reviews in total|
Like all Mascot serials, "Mystery Squadron," was made on a slight budget. But this didn't keep it from being a fun watch. The serial was loaded with good stunt action, and those of you with a bit of interest in vintage airplanes,(circa 1920's) plenty of good aerial action, and fine stunt flying. Of course, in most Mascot serials there was a masked villain, The Black Ace, who's identity would only be revealed in the finial chapter. If you enjoy movie serials, give it a try. One of the best Mascot serials.
I remember this movie serial as a boy in the thirties,we would ask our mother's for a penny on a Wednesday after school,and line up at the local movie house along with hundreds of kids..mostly boys,it always promised fast action,the Mystery Squadron who had their hideout in a mountain cave,the Black Ace the leader always seemed as though he would never would be revealed,would provide the bad deeds,as the action heated up thousands of young feet would stomp on the balcony floor,it was a wonder that it never collapsed.it would build to a crescendo,THEN it would stop suddenly,everyone would hold their breath as the hero would be put in seemingly inescapable peril,NEXT WEEK...see the next thrilling chapter,we would pile outside still gripped in the spell and discus with actions what had taken place,we would then speculate as to how he was going to get out of this latest fix,Bob Steele,Tom Mix,Hoot Gibson,Buck Jones,Ken Maynard,our heroes,who never kissed a girl,in our games no one wanted to play the Black Ace.Happy innocent days.
Considering miniscule budgets that Mascot Pictures worked with,this serial isn't too bad. Bob Steele and Guinn "Big boy" Williams are adequate as the heroes and the special effects are ok for the period.Story line doesn't make much sense but that's par for the course. There's enough excitement to keep it moving. Overall,good effort from Mascot.
This film falls toward the middle of Mascot's serial output. It isn't as exciting as some (The Hurricane Express), as entertainingly ludicrous as others (The Whispering Shadow), as lavish as a few (The Phantom Empire) managed to be. The actors' performances are all on par with their respective usual standards, and stick fairly close to typecasting. The Tavern Hotel, where much of the action is set, is an illogical conceit: a large building seemingly in the middle of nowhere, housing no more than five people all of whom are familiar with the secret passages which honeycomb the walls. Of course, in Mascot serials logic is pretty much beside the point, and that's okay.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an interesting little serial. I've always like Bob Steele in the "B" westerns he made. His father directed him in a number of shorts which I have not seen. His father also directed John Wayne in a number of poverty row films under the Lone Star banner in the 1930s. In this serial Jack Mulhall turns out to be the No. 1 villain. A few years later he was the star in another serial, "The Clutching Hand." Many times serials don't make sense. People get to places faster than they should, etc. In the last chapter Jack Mulhall as the hooded villain makes his escape out of a window only to be found a few minutes later tied up legs and arms in a car. Who tied him up? Well, it didn't matter to us kids when we saw those serials. Just so there was plenty of action. And that's what serials were about. Action.
When I was a lad my parents wouldn't let us have a TV. Some neighbours did. We watched many American B films. The only one that made an impression (enough to recall now) was "The Mystery Squadron". This would have been 1951, I think. I didn't realise that it dated from as long ago as 1933. The fact that the BBC should run it shows that it had become a cult movie. That summer we moved home. My friends warned that I should not be able to see a repeat running of the film scheduled for the autumn. Watching it in 2011 at first I thought I was going to be disappointed.However the "willing suspension of disbelief" began to perform its magic. The quality of the actual film is poor but the camera work is good and the direction (particularly of the action sequences) taut. Most important for this purpose there are some entertaining studio in-jokes. For example the two male leads regularly show an improbable athleticism. They were of course supposed to be stunt pilots. Onseveral occasions though their parts are taken by stunt men...............
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Two flying aces go to help their friend who is building a dam in New
Mexico. It seems his job is being threatened by The Black Ace who wants
the dam stopped. The Black Ace and his Mystery Squadron wants the dam
stopped because they have discovered a vein of gold that will be
submerged when the dam is finished.
A good cast (The chemistry between Bob Steel and Big Boy Williams is wonderful) and good action is hampered by poor rear screen work (The rear screen footage doesn't match what is happening in front of it) and poor model work (you can almost see the wires). This isn't to say its a bad serial, its not, its just that the budget limitations make the film feel creakier then it is. Worth a look.
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