Captain America (serial)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2009) Captain America Directed by Elmer Clifton
John English Produced by William J O'Sullivan Written by Story:
Joe Simon Starring Dick Purcell
George J. Lewis
John Davidson Music by Mort Glickman Cinematography John MacBurnie Edited by Wallace Grissell
Earl Turner Distributed by Republic Pictures Release dates
- February 5, 1944 (U.S. serial)
- September 30, 1953 (U.S. re-release)
The serial sees Captain America, really District Attorney Grant Gardner, trying to thwart the plans of The Scarab, really museum curator Dr. Cyrus Maldor - especially regarding his attempts to acquire the "Dynamic Vibrator" and "Electronic Firebolt", devices that could be used as super-weapons.
In a rare plot element for Republic, the secret identity of the villain is known to the audience from the beginning, if not to the characters in the serial. The studio's usual approach was the use of a mystery villain who was only unmasked as one of the other supporting characters in the final chapter.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Release
- 5 Critical reception
- 6 References to the serial
- 7 Chapter titles
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
All of the suicides were members of an expedition to some Mayan ruins. One of the few remaining survivors, Professor Lyman, turns to his friend Dr. Maldor for support. Dr. Maldor, however, reveals that he is the man responsible for the deaths. He wants revenge because he planned and organised the expedition but everyone else claimed the fame and fortune. However, Lyman has developed the "Dynamic Vibrator" - a device intended for mining operations but one that can be amplified into a devastating weapon. Using his purple death Dr. Maldor forces Lyman to disclose the location of his plans.
Captain America intervenes as the Scarab's heavies attempt to steal the plans and this leads to a sequence of plots by the Scarab to acquire a working version, as well as other devices, while trying to eliminate the interfering Captain before he succeeds in discovering Dr. Maldor's true identity or defeats him.
- Dick Purcell as Captain America. The character drastically differs from his comic book counterpart, who was a frail soldier named Steve Rogers who underwent a super-soldier experiment to enhance his physiology to the peak of human perfection. These elements are completely omitted and the character's identity is changed to a District Attorney named Grant Gardner. Purcell was cast as the hero despite, as described by Harmon and Glut, having an average and slightly overweight physique. He died a few weeks after filming was completed; he collapsed in the locker room at a Los Angeles country club. In the opinion of film historian Raymond Stedman, the strain of filming Captain America had been too much for his heart.
- Lorna Gray as Gail Richards, Grant Gardner's secretary
- Lionel Atwill as Dr Cyrus Maldor/The Scarab
- Charles Trowbridge as Police Commissioner Dryden
- Russell Hicks as Mayor Randolph
- George J. Lewis as Bart Matson
- John Davidson as Gruber
- Stanley Price as Purple Death chemist
The Captain America costume was really grey, white and dark blue as these colours photographed better in black and white. The costume also lost the wings on the head, the pirate boots became high shoes and the chainmail became normal cloth. Miniature flags were added to the gloves and the belt buckle became a small shield.
Republic was notorious for making arbitrary changes in their adaptations. This occurred with Captain America more than most. Timely, the owner of Captain America, was unhappy with the omission of Steve Rogers, the lack of an army setting and his use of a gun. Republic responded in writing that the sample pages provided by Timely did not indicate that Captain America was a soldier called Steve Rogers, nor that he did not carry a revolver. They also noted that the serial was well into production by this point and they could not return to the original concept without expensive retakes and dubbing. Finally they pointed out that Republic was under no contractual obligation to do any of this.
The differences between the comic book and film versions of the title character in this serial are more extreme than with other Republic comic adaptations, such as Adventures of Captain Marvel and Spy Smasher. For example:
- His secret identity is District Attorney Grant Gardner rather than U.S. Army Private Steve Rogers.
- The "Super-Soldier Serum" origin is not used.
- His famous shield does not appear, replaced by a standard gun.
- Despite the fact that this serial was made in 1944, and Captain America regularly fought Nazis in the comics, the Nazis are not part of the story in any way.
- His sidekick, Bucky, does not appear.
Republic previously had adapted Fawcett Comics characters (Captain Marvel and Spy Smasher). Due to the fact that the lead in Captain America is a crime-fighting district attorney aided by a female secretary who knows his identity, and that the serial includes a chapter entitled "The Scarlet Shroud" in which nothing scarlet appears, film restoration director Eric Stedman suggests that it is more likely that the script was originally developed to feature Fawcett's comic book hero Mr. Scarlet, secretly D.A. Brian Butler, whose comic book appearances had proved unpopular and who had actually disappeared from comic book covers and been relegated to being a backup feature between the time the serial was planned and the final film produced.
Writer Raymond William Stedman believes that the differences between the comic-book and film versions of Captain America were "for the better" as, for example, the hero did not have to sneak out of an army base every time he needed to change identities.
- Dale Van Sickel as Captain America (doubling Dick Purcell)
- Bert LeBaron as Dr Maldor/The Scarab (doubling Lionel Atwill)
- Helen Thurston as Gail Richards (doubling Lorna Gray)
- Ken Terrell Bart Matson/Dirk (doubling George J. Lewis & Crane Whitley)
- John Bagni
- Fred Graham
- Duke Green
- Eddie Parker
- Allen Pomeroy
- Tom Steele
Special effects All the special effects in Captain America were created by Republic's in-house team, the Lydecker brothers.
Release Captain America's official release date is 5 February 1944, although this is actually the date the seventh chapter was made available to film exchanges. The serial was re-released on 30 September 1953, under the new title Return of Captain America, between the first runs of Canadian Mounties vs. Atomic Invaders and Trader Tom of the China Seas.
Critical reception Captain America is regarded as the "apex of the traditional action film fight...[in the] opinion of many cliffhanger enthusiasts." Stedman wrote that this was a "much better serial than either Batman or The Masked Marvel" Dr Maldor is, in Cline's opinion, Lionel Atwill's best serial role.
References to the serial In Captain America V1 issue 219 (March 1978), it is revealed that a Captain America serial also exists within the Marvel Continuity. In this version, Captain America himself plays the role (in secret), taking the place of the stunt man who was shot during production due to the prop master being the Nazi spy Lyle Decker. Like the real-life serial, Cap's shield is replaced with a standard gun, his identity is changed, and his sidekick Bucky is absent.
In 2007, after Marvel's Civil War event, Captain America (Steve Rogers) was seemingly killed off. News channel CNN produced a special on the death, showing the serial with Grant Gardner as Captain America while it was focusing on the death of Steve Rogers. In Issue 27[clarification needed] of Captain America, the movie poster is seen in The Captain America Museum.
Steve Rogers' ex-girlfriend in the Ultimate Marvel continuity is named after Gail Richards, Grant Gardner's secretary.
The 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger features the title character starring in a serial early in his career.
- The Purple Death (25min 40s)
- Mechanical Executioner (15min 38s)
- The Scarlet Shroud (15min 33s)
- Preview of Murder (15min 33s)
- Blade of Wrath (15min 33s)
- Vault of Vengeance (15min 33s)
- Wholesale Destruction (15min 34s)
- Cremation in the Clouds (15min 33s)
- Triple Tragedy (15min 33s)
- The Avenging Corpse (15min 33s)
- The Dead Man Returns (15min 33s)
- Horror on the Highway (15min 34s)
- Skyscraper Plunge (15min 33s)
- The Scarab Strikes (15min 32s)
- The Toll of Doom (15min 33s)
See also References