King of the Rocket Men (1949, Fred C. Brannon), Chapter 11: Secret of Dr. Vulcan

About halfway through the chapter–the penultimate Rocket Men chapter–Tristram Coffin and Mae Clarke go over a cliff in a car into a lake.

They’ve already gone over a cliff together as a cliffhanger. And Coffin forced a motorcycle driver to his death over the cliff into a lake. It really felt like The Secret of Dr. Vulcan was just giving up on everything and repeating old cliffhangers.

But no, it’s just the halfway (or a little past halfway) point. There’s still time for Coffin’s big plan to rescue sidekick House Peters Jr. to go all wrong because he’s terrible at rescuing people.

Bad guy tough Don Haggerty gets the best material this chapter. He doesn’t even do much, he just gets the best material. Coffin gets to be a buffoon, albeit a very serious one. Peters get to be a bachelor in distress. Clarke–literally–gets to wait in the car.

And when Dr. Vulcan’s Secret is revealed? Eh. His secret identity is a bore.

But there are a few great Rocket Man shots towards the end of the chapter.


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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