|Index||3 reviews in total|
I've got 20 Republic Serial films in my personal video collection and the
stories or chapters are almost all the same.
I just can't believe all the fist fights that take place in each chapter. Both the bad guys and good guys get the tar kicked out of them in each fight scene. I just don't know how they can take such punishment and keep coming back for more.
Another interesting fact about these fight scenes is that both the hero's and bad guy's hats never fall off. I know if I got dragged around and "beaten" the way they seem to be, my hat would be off within the first few seconds of the skirmish.
One thing I like about these serials from the 40's and 50's is the old cars and "primitive" electronic equipment that looked as though it came over on the ark.
Without all the advantages of modern day special effects, the producers and directors had to really rely on good acting and good characterization.
Some of the bad guys I recognized from the westerns that were prevalent at the time. For instance, Dick Curtis, the main thug, and Terry Frost, who had a bit part in Chapter one of this serial, were seen in many of the westerns and it was difficult for me to associate them with modern situations and equipment, ie: cars, radios, etc.
One other thing I noticed and that is that the heroes seem to get the worst of the punishment throughout the serial and then in the last half of the final chapter, they finally bring the culprits to justice.
Anyways, it was a successful format for Republic, and any time I see a serial movie that looks interesting, I will definitely add it to my collection.
GOVERNMENT AGENTS VERSUS PHANTON LEGION, from 1951, is, like virtually all Republic Pictures product (up through 1955, at least), a competent and fast-moving and professional piece of work, but piece of work it is. Even the title has a generic feel to it, and almost every aspect of the serial suffers from a similarly generic, non-specific, non-interesting quality. The hero is bland and uninteresting. The lady who works with him is completely undeveloped as a character and is even more bland. The head of the phantom legion(one of four businessmen is a saboteur, the question is which one) is bland, and even his henchmen show a lack of imagination, trotting out the same old crashing cars off cliffs and staging fires. The federal agency the hero works for is ill-defined (I thought for a moment I was watching a David Mamet piece!), the nature of the materials hijacked and stolen is ill-defined, etc. On the plus side, the action is fast-moving, there are the usual well-staged cliffhangers, constant fist fights, and a number of car chases, and an excellent supporting cast of western-film veterans. Unlike some Republic serials, I don't think I could watch all of this one in an afternoon---I saw an episode or two a day over a week's time. By this time, Republic could produce a solid, professional serial in their sleep, and for this film it seems that they did. Personally, I find a number of Republic serials that came after this to be much more entertaining--Canadian MOUNTIES VS ATOMIC INVADERS is quirky and fun, and even the last two serials KING OF THE CARNIVAL and TRADER TOM OF THE CHINA SEAS have elements of plot and setting and atmosphere and supporting characters that make them more interesting than GOVERNMENT AGENTS. In short, a solid professional piece of work, and not bad to kill time with on a rainy day, but lacking inspiration and not a good introduction to Republic serials, unless you were out to make fun of them and point out their limitations and clichés.
Republic serial featuring our clean- cut, incredibly well-dressed
Sam and Hal who work for some unidentified GOVERNMENT AGENCY in pursuit of
evil Cady and Regan, who are in the business of hijacking trucks for their
VALUABLE DEFENSE MATERIALS cargoes and selling the cargoes to some FOREIGN
COUNTRY. Cady and Regan, by the way, also wear nifty suits but can be
distinguished from Sam and Hal by the darker hats and the borscht stains
Great early '50s cars, and lots and lots of fistfights (usually on a moving platform or near imminently explosive materials) will keep your attention for an hour. After that, you may tire of the end-of-episode cliffhangers that are invariably resolved in a totally anticlimatic fashion: Hal jumped clear of the car, you see, so he REALLY didn't blow up with his Buick... Also the concept that the U.S. government couldn't pursue an espionage ring endangering national security with more than two guys armed with .38s.
But by watching this video you will certainly see the genesis of the Indiana Jones films made with a vastly higher budget and less circular plotting.
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