Monday, September 3, 2007

CAPTAIN VIDEO

Aside from being one of the last theatrical serials produced, CAPTAIN VIDEO (1951) has the distinction of being the very first example of a popular television show being adapted for the big screen. Inspired by the then-popular kid’s show of the same name, the serial stars Judd Holdren as the titular Captain, and Larry Stewart as the his loyal sidekick, the Video Ranger.

The simple story has Video battling the sinister scientist Doctor Tobor (George Eldredge) and the forces of extraterrestrial despot Vultura (Gene Roth) of the alien planet Atoma, who are out to - what else? - conquer the Earth.

Everyone in this serial has astounding surveillance equipment and more gadgets than a dozen Sixties secret agents. There are car chases, space flights, fist fights, robots (recycled from the 1935 Gene Autry sci-fi serial THE PHANTOM EMPIRE), ray guns (including the "Cosmic Vibrator!") and death defying escapes aplenty – and not a single female in sight to spoil the boys’ fun. Although clearly produced on the cheap, and not what you'd call good, exactly, the 15-chapter serial, directed by chapterplay pros Wallace Grissell and Spencer Bennet, is still a great deal of goofy fun.

VCI’s presentation is pretty good. There’s some occasional print damage and the image sometimes wavers, but the detail is good and shadows are solid. VCI has re-created the original theatrical version’s Cinecolor tinting – with the full-screen image taking on a blue, green or red hue depending upon what planet the action is taking place. The two-disc set includes bonus serial trailers, a VCI serial promo reel, actor bios and a sci-fi photo and poster still gallery.

Not a particularly good serial, but an entertaining one.

BUY THIS SERIAL: Captain Video - Cliffhanger Collection