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

Friday, May 9, 2008


S.O.S. COAST GUARD. 12 chapter Republic Serial. Directed by William Witney and Alan Jones.

Ralph Byrd is Lt. Terry Kent of the Coast Guard, whose younger brother is murdered while trying to capture the sinister Boroff (Bela Lugosi), who has come to the United States with a formula for a deadly disintegration gas. Maxine Doyle is the intrepid female reporter Jean Norman and Lee Ford is her photographer, Snapper McGee. The music and the pacing help keep things lively in this otherwise second-tier serial with Byrd outwitting the efforts of Lugosi and his gang for chapter after chapter. In one amusing scene Boroff directs his muscular henchman Thorg to shave his master's beard off. Instead of first using a scissors to snip off most of the hair, Thorg covers the entire beard with shaving cream! To his men's incredulity Boroff seems to think the loss of his beard will be a suitable disguise, but naturally neither Byrd nor anyone else recognizes the evil figure. Boroff's henchmen seem smarter than he is. Boroff has no problem with anyone photographing crates full of his disintegration gas, but one of his men reminds him that the radioactive properties of the gas will fog the film, giving away the game. Despite its fairly standard quality, S.O.S. Coast Guard does have some exciting sequences, such as an underwater battle between Byrd and Thorg, and a scene when Byrd rapidly trails a truck which itself is trailing a vapor of disintegration gas. Snapper McGee is meant to be comedy relief but he just isn't particularly funny. Thorg has a great reaction when he's shot by a terribly ungrateful Boroff at the end.
Verdict: Some fun with Byrd and Bela! **1/2.

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