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

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


GREAT ALASKAN MYSTERY (1944). 13 chapter Universal serial. Directed by Ray Taylor and Lewis D. Collins.

This serial focuses on attempts to steal and use a “Peraton” ray gun that uses a new energized mineral as a power source. At the beginning an evil captain maroons the inventor and party on an iceberg, but they manage to survive for several more chapters of highly moderate and essentially mediocre “excitement.” Yep, Great Alaskan Mystery is more evidence of why Universal was never considered one of the better studios for cliffhanger serials. Milburn Stone is too low-key and dull to make a memorable serial hero. There are a few good scenes, however: a polar bear swims after and attacks a man in the water off the iceberg; and a terrific cliffhanger when a mine car plunges into a pit with the added danger in the fact that it's carrying explosives! The theme music is excellent, and the ever-versatile Jay Novello plays an Eskimo chief. With Marjorie Weaver as Ruth Miller and the always-sinister Martin Kosleck as a nasty turncoat scientist.

Verdict: Okay if you're in the mood for nothing special. **.

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