Category Archives: Lydecker Brothers

DVD/Blu-Ray News #101: Panther Girl Of The Kongo (1955).

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Directed by Franklin Adreon
Starring Phyllis Coates, Myron Healey, Arthur Space, John Day

The next-to-last Republic serial, Panther Girl Of The Kongo (1955), is coming to DVD and Blu-Ray from Olive Films.

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Stock footage was the order of the day in the final years of Republic serials, and this one lifts liberally from Jungle Girl (1941) starring Frances Gifford. What really sets Panther Girl Of The Kongo apart are the always-terrific Phyllis Coates and the really cool giant crayfish (here in North Carolina, we call them crawdads). I guess Hollywood’s big bug trend (Them!, Tarantula, The Deadly Mantis, The Black Scorpion) infested the Republic lot — and it’s all brought to life by the genius of Howard and Theodore Lydecker. They built scale jungle “sets” and turned real crayfish loose on them.

It all makes for a really fun serial that comes highly recommended.

UPDATE 2/10/17: Amazon has this available for pre-order at just $12.99!

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Filed under 1955, DVD/Blu-ray News, Lydecker Brothers, Olive Films, Phyllis Coates, Republic Pictures

DVD/Blu-Ray News #92: Adventures Of Captain Marvel (1941).

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Directed by William Witney and John English
Starring Tom Tyler, Frank Coghlin, Jr., William Benedict, Louise Currie

Republic’s Adventures Of Captain Marvel (1941), maybe the greatest serial of them all, is coming to Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber in early 2017. Shazam!

Across its 12 chapters, Howard and Theodore Lydecker, two of my all-time movie heroes, give us all kinds of tremendous special effects — Captain Marvel’s flight, typhoons, volcanoes, explosions, ships and on and on. William Witney and Republic’s team of stuntmen work their usual magic in a number of great fights. This thing really delivers the goods.

I can’t imagine a serial fan who hasn’t seen this one, so I don’t really need to recommend it. You know how absolutely essential it is.

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Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Lydecker Brothers, Republic Pictures

DVD/Blu-ray News #74: Daredevils Of The Red Circle (1939).

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Directed by William Witney and John English
Starring Charles Quigley, Bruce Bennett, David Sharpe, Carole Landis, Miles Mander, Charles Middleton, C. Montague Shaw

Boy, the new releases are coming fast and furious these days. Here’s another, and it’s a really good one — Republic’s 12-chapter serial Daredevils Of The Red Circle (1939) is coming from Kino Lorber (not sure on the date).

Serial nuts often list this as a favorite, and for good reason. It’s terrific.

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Filed under DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Lydecker Brothers, Republic Pictures, William Witney

The Republic Pictures Blogathon: Radar Men From The Moon (1952).

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Directed by Fred C. Brannon
Written by Ronald Davidson
Director Of Photography: John MacBurnie
Special Effects: Howard and Theodore Lydecker

Cast: George Wallace (Commando Cody), Aline Towne (Joan Gilbert), Roy Barcroft (Retik), William Bakewell (Ted Richards), Clayton Moore (Graber), Peter Brocco (Krog), Tom Steele

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Republic blogathon badgeThis is an entry in The Republic Pictures Blogathon, a celebration of the studio’s incredible talent roster, wonderful output and lasting legacy. No one signed on for a Republic serial, and I wanted to make sure they were represented.

One of the last Republic serials, Radar Men From The Moon (1952) is a real hoot. It leans heavily on stock footage from previous Republic pictures and recycles the flying suit from King Of The Rocket Men (1949). It introduces a new character — Commando Cody, played by George Wallace — and features Clayton Moore, between stints on The Lone Ranger, as a bad guy.

Clayton Moore: “Even though I had been gone for about three years, things hadn’t changed much at Republic. Directors still had to scrape every bit of footage together for the lowest possible budget. Freddy Brannon padded Radar Men From The Moon with footage from King Of The Rocket Men, Darkest Africa (1936) and The Purple Monster Strikes (1945).”

This serial features one of my all-time favorite movie plot points: aliens enlisting American gangsters to help with their plot to conquer the earth. Moore is one of those gangsters.

Graber (Clayton Moore): “There’s a man in a flying suit chasing us. Step on it.”

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Retik (Roy Barcroft), ruler of the moon, is using an “atomic ray” to destroy strategic locations in the United States. Commando Cody (George Wallace), an inventor-adventurer with a spaceship and a flying suit, heads to the moon to investigate. Soon, he and his cohorts are battling Retik and Krog — and gangsters like Graber (Clayton Moore), both on the moon and around L.A.

There are 12 chapters of this crazy stuff, and it’s goofy, delirious fun. Maybe not so much fun for the cast and crew, however.

"Commando Cody, the Sky Marshal of the Universe," aka, George Wallace, appears to defy the laws of gravity, for a moment at least, as he lands in the arms of a prop man during production of the film " Radar Men from the Moon," at Red Rock Canyon in the Mojave Desert, 80 miles northeast of Hollywood, Calif., Dec. 12, 1951. Gravity may be defied in some the new movie serials based on the fantasies science fiction, but what goes up still comes down, even if the film wont let you see it. (AP Photo)

George Wallace: “Roy Barcroft had been well known as a Western heavy for so many years, and he was a big, lovable bear, a sweetheart of a guy. And Clayton was just fine, except in one of the fight scenes, he broke my nose accidentally! It was a good group… Up in Red Rock Canyon, it was 112 degrees in the day, and running around in that hot weather with the heavy leather jacket and all this other stuff on, you sweated quite a bit. We had to stay out there all week to shoot. We’d start first thing in the morning, as soon as the sun came up, and work until the sun went down that night… we stayed in some dinky motel right alongside of a freight yard.”

Other locations include Vasquez Rocks, the Iverson Ranch and the train station in Chatsworth (which I assume was close to Iverson).

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Republic’s frantic pace of production didn’t even slow down when Moore broke Wallace’s nose. A few minutes after returning from the ER, Wallace was back in front of the camera, a bloody towel waiting just out of the shot.

Dialogue scenes have a first-take quality to them. The actors don’t seem comfortable with the words coming out of their mouths. But they keep it moving from action scene to action scene, and from chapter to chapter — and that, of course, is what a Republic serial is all about.

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The Lydeckers’ model spaceship for Radar Men From The Moon.

For me, one of the appeals of any Republic serial is the promise of some first-class model work from Howard and Theodore Lydecker. Here, we’ve seen a lot of their stuff before. But we get some great rocket shots, Cody’s flying scenes and the awesome moon tank.

Cody Moon Tank

Radar Men From The Moon wouldn’t be the last of Commando Cody. A second serial, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal Of The Universe, followed. It was originally produced as a TV show, with 12 25-minute episodes — in sequence but with no cliffhangers. Union rules required that it go to theaters first. Again, it features a lot of stock footage. This time, Cody is not played by George Wallace.

sr9_radarmen-adTo be honest, Radar Men From The Moon can’t hold a candle to some of the great, early Republic serials. But it’s so fast — all 12 chapters run just a bit over two-and-a-half hours — and so much fun, I’ve always found it irresistible. What’s more, it’s readily available on DVD from various sources, though a Blu-ray would be appreciated (as a hi-def Lydecker Bros. demo reel, if nothing else).

Sources: I Was That Masked Man by Clayton Moore; Double Feature Creature Attack by Tom Weaver

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Filed under 1952, Clayton Moore, Lydecker Brothers, Republic Pictures, Roy Barcroft

Blu-ray News #38: Flying Disc Man From Mars (1950).

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Directed by Fred C. Brannon
Starring Walter Reed, Lois Collier, Gregory Gay, James Craven

This 12-chapter Republic serial somehow was made for around $155,ooo — and that was going over budget! Flying Disc Man From Mars (1950) will make it to Blu-ray in October from Olive Films, following their September release of The Invisible Monster (1950). You know things aren’t so bad in the world when you can get a Republic serial in high definition.

We’ve seen some exciting new release announcements over the last couple months. So much good stuff.

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Filed under 1950, DVD/Blu-ray News, Lydecker Brothers, Olive Films, Republic Pictures

Blu-ray News #33: The Invisible Monster (1950).

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Directed by Fred C. Brannon
Starring Richard Webb, Aline Towne, Lane Bradford, John Crawford, Stanley Price, George Meeker

A Republic serial comes to Blu-ray. Wow, that’s cool. Especially since The Invisible Monster (1950) boasts plenty of incredible model work from Howard and Theodore Lydecker.

The Phantom Ruler has developed an invisibility formula and plans to use it to rule the world. To fund that effort, he hooks up with a bunch of crooks and uses his invention to commit crimes. It takes 12 action-packed chapters for investigator Richard Webb to bring the evil genius and his henchmen to justice.

These Republic serials are wonderful. And this one’s coming from Olive Films in September.

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Filed under 1950, DVD/Blu-ray News, Lydecker Brothers, Olive Films, Republic Pictures