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

Thursday, February 23, 2012


SECRET SERVICE IN DARKEST AFRICA (aka Manhunt in the African Jungle/15 chapter Republic serial/1943). Director: Spencer Gordon Bennett.

Stalwart Secret Service agent Rex Bennett (Rod Cameron) goes to the Dark Continent to deal with a Nazi spy ring who have replaced a sultan with an imposter. He is aided by the spunky gal reporter Janet Blake (Joan Marsh). Their main adversary is Baron von Rommler (Lionel Royce), and Duncan Renaldo plays an ally, Captain LaSalle. There's a great bit in chapter four with some graves exploding one by one due to underground mines, and some effective cliffhangers: Janet in a crate with an incendiary device as Rex fights Nazis [chapter five]; Janet under a giant slab that crashes downward [chapter seven]; and --best of all -- an "execution wheel" with a saw-pendulum swinging above [chapter twelve]. The trouble with Secret Service is that it doesn't have a strong, suspenseful  plotline, an exciting villain -- or even an exciting hero. Cameron is unemotional and stone-faced throughout. Joan Marsh appeared in quite a few movies before making this but apparently retired two years later. Cameron also appeared in The Jungle, Life with Henry and Henry Aldrich for President and also played Rex Bennett in G-Men vs the Black Dragon, which was better than this.Lionel Royce was also in So Ends Our Night.

Verdict: A few thrills but overall somewhat disappointing. **1/2.


Anonymous said...

This serial has to take the prize as the one with the most fights of any serial.

William said...

This one's on my list to see again. I love fights, ha!