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King of the Rocket Men (1949)

Passed  -  Action | Adventure | Crime  -  8 June 1949 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 722 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 5 critic

Jeff King in his experimental rocket suit battles the evil Dr. Vulcan.

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Title: King of the Rocket Men (1949)

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Director: Fred C. Brannon
Stars: Tristram Coffin, Mae Clarke, Don Haggerty
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tristram Coffin ...
Jeff King
...
Glenda Thomas
Don Haggerty ...
Tony Dirken
House Peters Jr. ...
Burt Winslow
James Craven ...
Prof. Millard [Chs. 1-7, 10]
...
Prof. Bryant
Douglas Evans ...
Chairman [Ch. 12]
Ted Adams ...
Martin Conway [Chs. 1-4]
Stanley Price ...
Gunther Von Strum
Dale Van Sickel ...
Henchman Martin [Ch.1] / Prof. Drake [Ch. 1] / Henchman Gates [Chs. 6-7, 9-11]
Tom Steele ...
Henchman Knox [Chs. 1, 3-4, 7] / Taxi Driver [Chs. 10-11]
David Sharpe ...
Henchman Blears / Cliff / Stark
Eddie Parker ...
Rowan [Ch. 3]
Michael Ferro ...
Henchman Turk [Ch. 8]
Frank O'Connor ...
Warehouse Guard [Chs. 1, 10]
Edit

Storyline

Prof. Millard pretends to be dead and helps Jeff King ferret out Vulcan, the evil traitor at the science academy. Donning his Rocket Man costume King goes from one hair raising rescue to the next in order to keep the newly invented Decimator out of the clutches of Vulcan and his minions. Written by Randy Spencer <spencer@ricochet.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

And they hit the moon! 12 thrilling chapters about the most fascinating man who ever lived! (original poster) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 June 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der König der Raketenmänner  »

Box Office

Budget:

$165,592 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(12 episodes)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

As in other Republic serials, Republic's top stuntmen, Dale Van Sickel, Tom Steele and David Sharpe, not only did stunts for other actors, they were given multiple roles throughout the serial. The audience were meant to see only one episode per week and therefore not expected to remember the faces of each henchman or extra. See more »

Connections

Features Deluge (1933) See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of Republic's Best Latter Day Serials
26 August 2002 | by (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

"King of the Rocket Men" was the first appearance of the man in the flying suit. In later years it would become associated with the Commando Cody character both in film and on TV.

The "king" of the title is Jeff King (Tristram Coffin) who is trying to unmask the evil Dr. Vulcan who is secretly trying to undermine a desert research project being conducted by Science Associates. Overseeing the project is a board of directors of whom a Dr. Vulcan, his identity unknown, is a member. It seems that one of their number, Professor Millard (James Craven) has developed a powerful machine called "the Decimater" which is capable of mass destruction. The rest of the serial is spent with Dr. Vulcan and his chief henchman Dirken (Don Haggerty) attempting to steal the discovery and Rocket Man's thwarting them at every turn. Mae Clarke as a reporter and House Peters Jr. as Chief of Security assist King.

This serial is one of the better of Republic's post war serials. There is plenty of action throughout, including chases, fights, cliffhangers and an appearance by Rocket Man in every chapter. The stunt work performed mainly by Tom Steele, Dale Van Sickel and David Sharpe (doubling Coffin in the Rocket Man sequences), is up to Republic's usual high standards. You'll spot each of the aforementioned stuntmen appearing in several minor roles as henchmen.

But the real star of the serial are its magnificent special effects created by Theodore and Howard Lydecker. Rocket Man seems to have borrowed his flying ability from Republic's earlier serial "The Adventures of Captain Marvel" (1941). The Lydeckers employed the use of an oversized dummy running up and down an almost invisible cable and photographing it from different angles to make it appear life-size. It's quite realistic for its time.

The best sequence is saved for the end when Dr. Vulcan attempts to destroy New York City. There are earthquakes, tidal waves and scenes of mass destruction achieved through the skillful use of miniatures.

The acting is better than most serials. Coffin, who usually played oily villains, gives a creditable performance in the lead. Mae Clarke, who had achieved notoriety in "Public Enemy" by having James Cagney push a grapefruit in her face, does her best with limited material as the heroine. Don Haggerty as Dirken makes a formidable villain in what I believe was his only serial. Haggerty can usually be seen in featured roles as a cop or thug. He never got the credit or the roles he deserved.

So who was Dr. Vulcan? To find out, tune into the next chapter of "King of the Rocket Men" at this theatre next week.


22 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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