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The Spider's Web (1938)

 -  Crime | Action | Drama  -  22 October 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 81 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 2 critic

A crime fighter known as The Spider battles a villain called The Octopus, who is out to sabotage America and install his own government.


(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Title: The Spider's Web (1938)

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The evil and masked "Gargoyle" is sabotaging all of America's industrial plants. It is up to the Spider to save the country.

Director: James W. Horne
Stars: Warren Hull, Mary Ainslee, Dave O'Brien


Cast overview, first billed only:
Warren Hull ...
Richard Wentworth / The Spider / Blinky McQuade
Iris Meredith ...
Nita Van Sloan
Richard Fiske ...
Kenne Duncan ...
Ram Singh (as Kenneth Duncan)
Forbes Murray ...
Police Commissioner Stanley Kirk
Donald Douglas ...
Jenkins (the Butler)
Steve Harmon
Charles C. Wilson ...
Chase (as Charles Wilson)
John Tyrrell ...
Henchman Grafton
Eugene Anderson Jr. ...
Johnnie Sands (as Gene Anderson Jr.)
Mason's Secretary
Paul Whitney ...
Gray (the Banker)
Beatrice Curtis ...
Kate Sands
Gordon Hart ...
J. Mason
Byron Foulger ...
Allen Roberts


A crime fighter known as The Spider battles a villain called The Octopus, who is out to sabotage America and install his own government.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


BLOOD-CHILLING SUSPENSE! HAIR-RAISING CLIMAXES! (original three-sheet poster-all caps) See more »


Crime | Action | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 October 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Spider: Master of Men  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Columbia released this film featuring the Spider, whom Stan Lee cited as an inspiration for Spider-Man (especially due to the web-pattern imprinted cloak that the Spider wears in this film). Decades later, Columbia released a Spider-Man film, and then a sequel to that film, where, yet again, a spider-themed protagonist fought an opponent named Octopus. (Also, in one of the Spider novels, he fought an opponent called the Iron Man, Stan Lee also created Iron Man.) See more »


Followed by The Spider Returns (1941) See more »

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User Reviews

The Culture of Vigilantism
5 March 2012 | by (Portland, OR, United States) – See all my reviews

A couple minor directorial changes in this serial would have made this a close to perfect example of the genre, putting it in the same league as Spy Smasher or Capt. Marvel. The musical score is often quite unsuitable, sounding too upbeat and heroic like Roy Rogers or Rin Tin Tin music, when instead there should have been something more mysterioso, ala film noir. Also, Warren Hull's speech is just a bit too fast and his affect just a bit too bright for a deadly vigilante such as The Spider.

And deadly the Spider is! This film is a fine relic of the pulp magazines, masked vigilantes, and of the 1930's, when duly deputized G-Men summarily executed real-life criminals such as Bonnie and Clyde, and John Dillinger. The Spider outdraws and dispatches criminals without the slightest qualms. (Do not think that flapdoodle64 personally approves of such things...he is instead fascinated by these windows into the mores of the past!) Despite the flaws, this is a very enjoyable serial, and while it takes some liberties with the source material, it is true to the spirit of the Spider and true to the spirit of 1930's pulp magazines as well. It is quite fun to see the Spider and his cadre of assistants seek to break the tyrannical hand of a predatory monopolist who seeks to control the country. In the 21st century, predatory plutocrats are considered admirable, but in the 1930's they were seen as criminal thugs.

Of the Spider's assistants, I particularly liked the Sikh guy...the turban and the beard are cool fashion accessories for crime fighters. Speaking of fashion, the Spider's cape is made out of some thin silk-like fabric, which tends to billow when the Spider runs and swings on ropes...this is a good effect.

There are plenty of fights and the stunts are pretty good by Columbia standards. There is a better than average believability factor overall, except for one of the later chapters, in which the Spider is shot several times by the thugs but in the next scene is shown to be undamaged. In a Columbia serial, however, such a flaw should be considered minor.

I recommend this serial to any serial fan, to fans of the pulps, and to fans of old-time escapist cinema as well. These fans should be able to overlook the awkwardness and enjoy the bloodthirsty vigilante action.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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