King of the Rocket Men (1949, Fred C. Brannon), Chapter 9: Ten Seconds to Live

Ten Seconds to Live is a new low as far as Rocket Men quality goes. It’s bad to the point the badness becomes more engaging than the story, partially because there’s no story, mostly because the good guys are just so dumb.

The cliffhanger resolution is bad. The subsequent setup for the chapter–Tristram Coffin arguing he knows best how to catch the still unknown Dr. Vulcan while he’s working on a super-weapon called “The Decimator.” Coffin’s always doing science off-screen, never on.

Anyway. The mysterious Dr. Vulcan comes up with a plan to get the device away from Coffin, telling henchman Don Haggerty he’ll need a motorcycle. Why will Haggerty need a motorcycle? Maybe because if Coffin and sidekick House Peters Jr. see a motorcycle in the distance, they will chase it down and try to kill the rider. Regardless of if the motorcycle is doing anything to them.

After committing first or second degree murder, Coffin discovers he’s been tricked. Does he freak out? The device can melt through mountains, after all. But no, he’s not freaking out. Instead he calls the cops to track down Haggerty’s truck–which is, inexplicably, a USMC truck. Why doesn’t Coffin suit up as Rocket Man to find it himself?

Because nothing makes sense in Ten Seconds to Live. It’s all just goofy.


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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