King of the Rocket Men (1949, Fred C. Brannon), Chapter 7: Molten Menace

King of the Rocket Men made it to chapter seven before having a stinker. And Molten Menace isn’t even an exciting stinker, it’s just a plodding one.

It’s also frustrating because it requires lead Tristram Coffin to be stupid about something a scene after he was talking about being cautious about the exact same thing. And when he does get his rocket suit on, he’s just using it as a disguise.

So no good action, no character stuff whatsoever–the script skips the scene where Mae Clarke and House Peters Jr. find out Coffin’s been keeping a big secret from them. A lot of it is the thugs driving out to steal scientist James Craven’s destruction beam. For whatever reason, the only thing the scientists in Rocket Men make are weapons. Including Coffin, who apparently has been working on an awesome power source throughout the serial without it ever being seen or mentioned.

Molten Menace’s not terrible, it’s just not in any way engaging or interesting. Even when it’s setting up the cliffhanger, it fails to thrill. Possibly a result of this chapter’s opening cliffhanger resolution not just being a cop-out, but one Rocket Men has already used before.


Directed by Fred C. Brannon; written by Royal K. Cole, William Lively, and Sol Shor; director of photography, Ellis W. Carter; edited by Cliff Bell Sr. and Sam Starr; music by Stanley Wilson; released by Republic Pictures.

Starring Tristram Coffin (Jeffrey King), Mae Clarke (Glenda Thomas), Don Haggerty (Tony Dirken), House Peters Jr. (Burt Winslow), James Craven (Prof. Millard), I. Stanford Jolley (Prof. Bryant), Ted Adams (Prof. Conway), and Stanley Price (Prof. Von Strum).


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