Monday, September 20, 2010

King of the Rocket Men (1949)

Because of disk problems with Seven Samurai, my hundred and first post is my one hundredth movie. Because this one is a serial, I actually had a choice of what would be my 100th. I started watching episodes of Rocket Men first, but saw another movie before I finished. I chose this to be my 100th because it didn't totally suck. Boy, can't you wait for my next post!

Jeff King (Tristram Coffin) is a scientist and member of "Science Associates". Top scientists are being killed off by the mysterious "Doctor Vulcan" (no, he doesn't use a death grip). One scientist thought killed was saved by King and hides in a cave doing research. Where they got the tons of scientific equipment to stock this cave, and where do you rent a cave with proper electrical and plumbing facilities, I won't ask. He finishes working on a Rocket Suit, so King (King of the Rocket Men? Get it?) uses it to do battle with the Evil Doctor Vulcan!

So, basically, King flies around, narrowly escaping death, gets into two fist fights per 13 minute episode, and slowly gets closer to the baddies. And his suit is a real hoot. It has three dials. One reads ON and OFF, another UP and DOWN, and the third SLOW and FAST. To take off, he runs and jumps superman style, then turns ON, UP, FAST. To land he turns the dial to DOWN. SLOW is never used.

This and serials like it delighted kids back in the day when they would walk to the cinema (alone) every week. They would see another cliffhanger episode before the feature. Today, this is boy-repellent. All three of my sons would run from the room in disgust when I would play one. And it didn't help that favorites like Star Wars and Indiana Jones were based on serials just like this one. And the dude looked strangely similar to iron man. No sir-ee bob. They'd have nothing to do with it.

But I liked it. Maybe I would have liked it better had Netflix put them into the correct order. I saw episodes 1 to 3, then 7 to 9, followed by 4 to 6, then finally 10 to 12. Sad thing is that I caught on after watching episode 9. I decided not to start from the beginning.

Glenda Thomas, cub reporter, was played by Mae Clarke, described as an all time great sci-fi hottie, and for this role no less. Sorry, no. Maybe back when she was dating the good doctor Frankenstein, but not when pushing 40. Her role was get-in-the-way girl. Not a love interest. AMRU 3.

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