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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


THE INVISIBLE MONSTER (1950). 12 chapter Republic serial. Director: Fred C. Brannon.

A bad guy who calls himself The Phantom Ruler brings illegal aliens over to the United States, then forces them to do his bidding by threatening to report them. Richard Webb is the investigator called upon to battle the Ruler, along with a new female associate named Carol (Aline Towne). An interesting aspect of this serial is that Carol not only shoots with the best of them, but constantly proves that she is as brave and resourceful as the at-first patronizing Webb or anyone else. (While heroines were often brave and daring in serials, other females usually had decorative parts and had to be rescued.) The Ruler wears a black cloak and hood but his identity is revealed in the first chapter so it makes little difference; as played by Stanley Price he's especially colorless. He can turn himself and others invisible and wants to create a transparent Army to conquer the world. There are some good cliffhangers in this, including a fall out of a skyscraper, a car that crashes through the wall of a building's upper story, and a tense business with a handcar and a speeding train on the same track. Webb is fine as the stalwart hero and Towne is just great.

Verdict: Snappy, fast-paced, and a lot of dumb fun. ***.

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