In Captain America's original story, a man named Steve Rogers - who is too weak and puny to fight in World War II - is injected with a Super-Soldier Serum and develops an enhanced physique, after which he becomes Captain America and does battle with the agents of Nazi Germany. This back-story was rejected by Republic during the making of this serial, as it would have required costly retakes at the time. In the serial, Captain America's real name is Grant Gardner, he is the city's district attorney, and his foe is the Scarab, aka Karl Maaldor, played by Lionel Atwill. See more »
Throughout the serial, the word "Mayan" is pronounced "MAY-an" instead of the correct "MY-an." See more »
This is the voice of the Scarab, Wilson. I command you to drive your car over the cliff!
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This serial has nothing to do with the original comic book Captain America but is still entertaining. Some people considered the star, Dick Purcell, to be pudgy but this is simply not so. He just had a more realistic body type than a male growth hormone guzzling freak like Sylvester Stallone. The men of Dick Purcell's era had survived the Great Depression and when they were hungry they ate meat and potatoes. Go take a look at your own gut sometime! Overall, Purcell made a pretty good serial hero, tough enough to do the job convincingly, a reasonably good actor, not wearing his angst and self doubt on his shirt sleeve like some modern sissy boy hero. While not as great as Buster Crabbe or Tom Tyler, he was better than Kirk Alyn (sorry, Kirk).
This serial has lots of excellent fight scenes and great cliff hangers. Also, there is a sequence where Captain America rides the Republic motorcycle, which was also seen in 'Spy Smasher.' The villain, Lionel Atwill, is probably one of the best serial villains, perhaps even better than Charles Middleton as Emperor Ming. Perhaps it would have been wiser to do this in the usual 12 chapters, as opposed to 15, but then again, if I minded wasting my time, why would I watch these old serials? Overall, this is a pretty good serial, and as such it has a higher value for escapist fun than most modern super-heroic cinema. One significant criticism I will make, however, is the inexplicable exclusion of all references to WWII. When it's WWII out there, and you have Captain America, a character created to fight WWII, yet the story has nothing to do with WWII, well, that is an awfully big elephant in the room. It would be akin, say, to a nation that spends $200 million a day for 10 years on a war, with the public having no reliable knowledge of the causes, progress, or effects of the war.
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