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

Thursday, August 16, 2012


ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN AFRICA 15 chapter Columbia serial (aka Adventures of Captain Africa, Mighty Jungle Avenger/1955). Director: Spencer G. Bennet.

In a small African nation the Caliph has been replaced by a lookalike. With the aid of the mysterious Captain Africa (John Hart), who shows up conveniently from time to time, Ted Arnold (Rick Vallin) and animal handler Nat Coleman (Bud Osborne) try to help the Arab Omar (Ben Welden) put the rightful ruler back on the throne. In the meantime Princess Rhoda (June Howard) frequently finds herself in danger. If Captain Africa seems to resemble the Phantom, it's because this was supposed to be a sequel to The Phantom cliffhanger, only Columbia let the rights to the character expire. There is lots of stock footage and some of the cliffhangers are recycled from the original Phantom serial. In spite of this the serial still has some lively moments, such as a huge tiger that climbs in through a window, an alligator-and-quicksand trap, fires, avalanches, and coaches that go flying over cliffs. Still, it's no better than mediocre, but The Phantom serial wasn't that great, either. Captain Africa has a secret identity but it is never employed in the serial and the audience is never told his name; he never appears in his real I.D. throughout the serial. Hart and the others give acceptable performances. The cute but not terribly glamorous Howard only had one other credit; she is not a bad actress. Ben Welden had a great many credits and played the thief in "The Fur Coat" episode of I Love Lucy.

Verdict: Not one of your more memorable cliffhangers. **1/2.

No comments: