On a scientific expedition to Siam young Billy Batson is given the ability to change himself into the super-powered Captain Marvel by the wizard Shazam, who tells him his powers will last only as long as the Golden Scorpion idol is threatened. Finding the idol, the scientists realize it could be the most powerful weapon in the world and remove the lenses that energize it, distributing them among themselves so that no one would be able to use the idol by himself. Back in the US, Billy Batson, as Captain Marvel, wages a battle against an evil, hooded figure, the Scorpion, who hopes to accumulate all five lenses, thereby gaining control of the super-powerful weapon.Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN CARTOONLAND BECOMES THE STRONGEST MAN ON THE SCREEN! All others pale in the light of this human fortress who finds no barrier too great in his amazing fight for justice. See more »
The film was released in 1941 and depicts Americans freely entering and exiting Siam (Thailand). This would become impossible later that same year. On 21 December Siam signed a formal military alliance with the Empire of Japan. On 25 January 1942, Siam formally declared war on the US, because Japan and the US were already in a state of war. See more »
In chapter 11, "Valley of Death" one of the tribesmen uses a signal mirror to communicate with another. He flicks it up and down, but the reflection hits the other in a side-to-side motion. See more »
[sound of a huge gong omninously echoes down the valley]
What's that, Mr. Howell?
Howell [Ch. 1]:
I don't know, Billy - let's find out. What do you make of that cymbal, Malcolm?
I don't know, Howell. Does it mean anything to you, Tal Chotali?
The men of the hills are gathering. The cymbal says that the white men are to be driven from the Valley of Tombs.
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This is my first full-length serial, and, I must confess surprisingly, that I truly enjoyed each and every minute of it. The story tells of a young man named Billy Batson and how he, having refused to enter the tomb of an ancient people with a curse while being part of an archaeological/treasure hunting team, is bestowed great powers by Shazaam. Batson turns into Captain Marvel when he utters the word Shazaam. This serial is a lot better crafted than I initially thought it would be. The sets used in this Rebublic Pictures production are very good and believable. The acting is very adequate with Frank Coghlan Jr. giving a very honest and sincere performance as Billy albeit somewhat corny perhaps. Tom Tyler plays his alter ego Captain Marvel - and while looking somewhat haggard is acceptable. All the other performers are good with John Davidson standing out as Tal Chotali - a native guide for the group. The 12 chapters of this serial tell of how each investor in the team was given a special lens of a gold scorpion found in the ancient tomb. When all the lenses are placed properly on the scorpion, it can make gold out of anything. Well, a villain named the Scorpion comes into the mix. He is covered from head to foot in a mask and costume so as not to reveal his identity because he is one of the men in the team. Each episode tells of various plots the scorpion invents to secure the lenses and thwart Captain Marvel. In true serial fashion, each chapter ends with a thrilling and exciting cliffhanger of sorts. Originally these were shown weekly with pictures and made to be exciting and suspenseful so as to entice movie-goers to return each week. Directors William Witney and John English succeed in making the viewer want to see what happens. Each chapter was packed with action and mystery. Plenty of red herrings are thrown at you so as to confuse you to who could or would be the real identity of the Scorpion. It was so refreshing to see Captain Marvel be a real super hero. He doles out real justice to real crooks. No feminization of Captain Marvel here. Sure, some of the story is pretty hokey, and, yes, some plot twists totally unrealistic(how about the scene where Betty Wallace,Batson's pseudo-love interest, is careening around one bend after another in a garage while knocked out), but the product as a whole was very compelling. I had to watch all 12 chapters in one sitting just to find out who the script chose to be the Scorpion. This serial made me a believer and makes me want to check out some of these rather forgotten films of the past.
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