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Fred C. Brannon,
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is another one of Republic's great adventure serials, made in the days before television when audiences would regularly attend the cinema and would be shown one serial episode per week.
The plot is not bad, but is really just an excuse to string together an almost non-stop series of stunts. Getting bored with the dialog? Well, don't worry, because there's a fistfight coming up in thirty seconds, courtesy of Republic's group of first-class stunt men.
With a gunfight every four minutes, a car chase every three minutes, and a fistfight every two minutes, you won't have time to get bored! And I lost count of the number of times our hero dons his rocket suit and flies off in pursuit of the baddies.
"King Of The Rocket Men" starred B-movie actor Tristram Coffin as "Jeff King", alias "Rocketman". The 12-part serial was edited and condensed into a feature version, "Lost Planet Airmen" (1951).
The 17 flying sequences from "King Of The Rocket Men" were reused in three later serials. The first of these was "Radar Men From The Moon" (1952), which starred baritone-voiced George Wallace as "Commando Cody". The 12-part serial was edited and condensed into a feature version, "Retik, the Moon Menace" (1966).
The second follow-on to "King Of The Rocket Men" was "Zombies Of The Stratosphere" (1952), which again reused the 17 flying sequences from "King Of The Rocket Men". The previous serial's hero, "Commando Cody", was replaced by "Larry Martin", played by actor Judd Holdren. Leonard Nimoy, then 21 years old, played a minor role as Narab, a Martian henchman. The 12-part serial was edited and condensed into a feature version, "Satan's Satellites" (1958).
The final 'Rocketman' serial was "Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe" (1953), with Judd Holdren playing the lead role of "Commando Cody". This was both a movie serial and a TV serial. At the time that this serial was made, 1952, the era of "Saturday Morning Serials at the Cinema" was almost gone, replaced by television. So this serial was made so that it could be shown as either a movie serial or a TV serial.
In fact, "Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe" was shot at the same time as "Zombies Of The Stratosphere", with Judd Holdren playing the lead role in both. To avoid confusing the audience with *two* serials featuring "Commando Cody", Holdren's character was renamed as "Larry Martin" for "Zombies Of The Stratosphere".
"Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe" was shot as a 12-part serial, but with two major changes in format. Each episode did *not* end with a cliffhanger, and the length of each episode was increased to 25 minutes in order to fit the standard 30-minute television time slot. The longer episodes required a more intricate storyline, so significant new footage was shot, including some additional hanging-by-wires matte-shot flying sequences.
After the first three episodes of "Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe" (1953) had been filmed, production was put on hold while "Zombies Of The Stratosphere" (1952) was filmed. When filming of "Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe" finally resumed, actor William Schallert was unavailable to resume his role as Commando's sidekick "Ted Richards", so Richard Crane took over the sidekick role as "Dick Preston" for the remaining nine episodes. The 12-part serial was screened in cinemas in 1953, then appeared on television in 1955.
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