Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

UNDERSEA KINGDOM


UNDERSEA KINGDOM (1936). 12 Chapter Republic Serial. Directed by B. Reeves Eason and Joseph Kane.

Ray “Crash” Corrigan stars as an adventurer who winds up in the middle of a civil war in an alleged Atlantis under the sea. Although there is supposed to be a roof above, or cavern surrounding, Atlantis, we never see any evidence of it; Atlantis – “10,000 feet below sea level” -- simply appears to be an island with sky and not water above. This is another serial in which the hero has an admiring little pal, Billy (Lee Van Atta), whose real father is an elderly professorial type. The two warring leaders of Atlantis include Unga Khan, who wants to raise his weapons tower to the upper world where he can cause worldwide disasters, and the High Priest Sharad, who is described as “kindly” even after he demands Crash kill an opponent he bested in the arena. Crash winds up as the head of Sharad's army, a bizarre development to be certain. One of the best scenes has Khan's soldier Lon Chaney Jr. tying Crash to the front of his tank and driving right through the gates of Sharad's city. But this is a notorious cheat, as in the next episode the formerly closed gates are now open as the tank goes through! Another suspect development has Crash instruct Billy to climb on his back as he straddles a tightrope and nearly plunges both of them to their doom. Lois Wild is the nominal love interest as Diana.

Verdict: Undersea Kingdom may be watchable, but it isn't very good. **.

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