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

Friday, December 28, 2007


SKY RAIDERS (1941). 12 chapter Universal serial. Directed by Ford Beebe and Ray Taylor.

A fairly standard but reasonably entertaining serial with bad guys trying to get the secrets of a new plane away from the bad guys. The characterizations are a little more interesting than usual, and there's even a love triangle between hero Captain Dayton (Donald Woods from the Mexican Spitfire series) ) and buddy Ed Carey (Robert Armstrong from King Kong.) who both are hot for pretty secretary Mary Blake (Kathryn Adams). Armstrong even gives Miss Blake a hot lingering kiss at one point, a rare occasion in serials! Billy Halop (Eastside Kids) is along for the ride as a young wannabe pilot, Timothy Bryant. Eduardo Cianelli is the villain of the piece, the wonderfully named Felix Lynx. The bad guys employ an exact lookalike of Dayton for a couple of episodes, and there's a sinister countess (Jean Fenwick) who doesn't hang around very long. No really spectacular cliffhangers in this, unfortunately.

Verdict: Not so great. **.


Anonymous said...

Well, it's not up to today's standards but it was the typical cliffhanger of that era. What I found interesting was that this was released BEFORE Pearl Harbor. The enemy spies were never identified as coming from a certain country, but I wonder if they had a premonition of things to come.

William said...

Some cliffhangers made during the same period are so well made that they hold up even against modern-day standards due to skillful editing, exciting cliffhangers and so on. Sky Raiders was mediocre but had its entertaining moments. I think the pre-WW2 period had a number of serials where enemy spies were operating on U.S. soil; I don't think anyone could have necessarily predicted Pearl Harbor but filmmakers probably realized that espionage would be a real possibility if and when the U.S. entered the war.

Anyway, thanks for your comments!