Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941, William Witney and John English), Chapter 4: Death Takes the Wheel

Death Takes the Wheel sadly does not have a Death character driving. It does have a lazy cliffhanger resolution at the open, which will probably echo in the next chapter’s cliffhanger resolution too. The screenwriters have established their cliffhanger resolution pattern. It’s not a good one, that pattern.

The chapter has Frank Coghlan Jr. and Louise Currie doing some investigating. The evil Scorpion has set up Coghlan because he’s apparently more dangerous than Captain Marvel. The bad guys luck into kidnapping Currie too.

There’s some dialogue between the masked Scorpion and henchman Kenne Duncan about Captain Marvel. So everyone seems to know Captain Marvel exists, they just don’t care. Apparently flying supermen aren’t a big deal. Not when Coghlan’s out there.

Of course, it’s not like Coghlan’s actions make any sense. He doesn’t foil the bad guys’ first plan, even though he’s in Captain Marvel guise and ought to be able to get to them in time.

The expedition team all acts very suspicious before sending Coghlan off to a trap. Someone even tries to kill Coghlan and Currie with a flower pot. Coghlan and Currie are concerned about one of the group being a murderer, but not enough they delay trying to solve the Scorpion mystery.

The end’s got good action. Coghlan and Currie are likable. It’s not bad. It’s not great, but it’s not a bad chapter. Tom Tyler actually gets lines (as Captain Marvel) and he’s solid enough. The script just isn’t doing anything right now. Maybe it’s a bridging chapter? It’s very early for one.


Directed by John English and William Witney; screenplay by Ronald Davidson, Norman S. Hall, Arch Heath, Joseph F. Poland, and Sol Shor, based on the comic book by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker; director of photography, William Nobles; edited by William P. Thompson and Edward Todd; music by Cy Feuer; released by Republic Pictures.

Starring Frank Coghlan Jr. (Billy Batson), Tom Tyler (Captain Marvel), William ‘Billy’ Benedict (Whitey Murphy), Louise Currie (Betty Wallace), Kenne Duncan (Barnett), Robert Strange (John Malcolm), Harry Worth (Prof. Luther Bentley), John Davidson (Tal Chotali), George Pembroke (Dr. Stephen Lang), George Lynn (Prof. Dwight Fisher), and Tetsu Komai (Chan Lai).


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