Tag Archives: William Benedict

Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941, John English and William Witney), Chapter 12: Captain Marvel’s Secret

Captain Marvel’s Secret opens with yet another lackluster cliffhanger resolve. No reason to change it up at the end, apparently.

The chapter has a lot to do in sixteen minutes. It’s got to reveal the evil Scorpion’s identity, stop the Scorpion’s evil plan, and maybe do something regarding Frank Coghlan Jr. and Tom Tyler’s Captain Marvel.

Secret drags out the Scorpion identity reveal–with William Nobles’s photography showing off how much he can keep two actors’ faces in shadow when there shouldn’t be one–while putting William ‘Billy’ Benedict and Louise Currie on the run. Their attempt to escape from the Scorpion’s thugs has an awesome special effect–thugs on horseback, good guys in car. It almost seems like Captain Marvel is going to up the ante as it winds down.

But no.

Not even when it gets around to the final transformation from Coghlan to Tyler, even though events are perfect for something entertaining.

Tyler gets a lot of lines before the chapter’s over, his most of the serial. In context, he’s fine. But it’s probably good he didn’t get a lot of pontificating throughout.

All those lines are at Coghlan’s expense. When he’s not Shazamed up, Coghlan’s either preparing to say the magic word or he’s literally gagged.

The finish, after Secret takes care of outstanding business, is abrupt and inadequate.

Set design is real nice though.

CREDITS

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), and Reed Hadley (Rahman Bar).


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Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941, John English and William Witney), Chapter 11: Valley of Death

Valley of Death is the penultimate chapter of Adventures of Captain Marvel. It’s in a rush to finish. The cliffhanger resolution is boring, though leads to some decent effects shots. The cast ends up in a hotel somewhere, planning to return to Thailand and the tombs from the first chapter.

Villain Reed Hadley, who made an impression so long ago, returns for Valley of Death. The Scorpion, his identity still a mystery, shows up to send a falcon with a message to Hadley and the rest of the bad guys. They’re bad guys because they don’t want the Americans digging up the tombs. The Scorpion, on the other hand, wants to be turn materials into gold and be rich beyond compare.

Tom Tyler gets a bunch of heroics to do while the Americans are en route to the tombs. Like picking up a fallen tree trunk. Only Louise Currie seems surprised to see him in Thailand. Everyone else just shrugs it off.

Once they’re back to the tombs–and Valley is splitting its time between the expedition and the bad guys–Frank Coghlan Jr. gets to take over a bit. Most of the time is spent either on the bad guys or the bad guys’ plan. They cause a volcano to erupt. Some great effects and nice editing on the sequence.

Unfortunately, there’s no drama to it. Not even when a tomb is threatening to collapse on the supporting cast.

There’s some excellent music this chapter (from Cy Feuer) but it’s not priming Adventures for a strong finish.

CREDITS

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), and Reed Hadley (Rahman Bar).


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Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941, John English and William Witney), Chapter 10: Doom Ship

There’s nothing nice to say about Doom Ship’s opening cliffhanger resolution other than it’s short and leads into an energetic fight scene for Frank Coghlan Jr. More than ever, Coghlan’s got the wrong timing for turning into Tom Tyler’s Captain Marvel this chapter. Unlike the times when Coghlan’s been over his head, in Doom Ship he gets to play the hero to good result.

The action quickly moves aboard the titular Doom Ship. The remaining archaeologists discover they need to go back to Thailand and since no one trusts one another, they all head back. They set sail same day. Ocean transport is very convenient, apparently.

The ship sequence is probably the serial’s best lengthy action stuff so far. There’s a storm going and the ship crashes into a reef. Can Coghlan and company get off before it sinks?

Lots of action, lots of tension, lots of good effects. And Louise Currie not just getting to be damsel in distress, but entirely unconscious damsel in distress. Far be it for Doom Ship not to fall into at least one Captain Marvel trope.

The excellent special effects and tight pacing make Doom Ship a fine chapter. Although it does seem to be an aside, an exercise in filmmaking competence, rather than a ambition ramp up for the serial’s finale.

CREDITS

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), and John Davidson (Tal Chotali).


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Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941, John English and William Witney), Chapter 9: Dead Man’s Trap

Dead Man’s Trap is, I guess, a bridging chapter. It depends on what’s next. Otherwise it’s a treading water chapter.

It picks up from the previous chapter’s “cliffhanger” (quotations because it’s more of a “beware the cliff 150 meters away” than anything else) and gives George Pembroke quite a bit to do for a while. He’s good, the regular guy captured by the Scorpion and then tortured until he talks. Pembroke’s pure joy at Tom Tyler coming to his rescue is one of Captain Marvel’s most honest moments.

There’s some convoluted machinations to get Louise Currie in danger and to give Frank Coghlan Jr. a chance to Captain Marvel out. But there’s no tension. It’s weird, coming off a strong chapter, to see the serial just go back to business as usual.

The cliffhanger’s kind of cool, but there’s no chance it’ll have a good resolution so who cares.

Three quarters done, it’s still impossible to guess how Captain Marvel is going to wrap up, quality-wise. The actors are fine, usually likable (though Currie’s a little dense here), but the serial itself spins its wheels too much.

CREDITS

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), and George Pembroke (Dr. Stephen Lang).


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