Directed by John Ford.
Starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Ward Bond
This is the 70th anniversary of the release of John Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952), and TCM is celebrating it with a couple screenings around St. Patrick’s Day — March 13 (tonight) and 17 (Thursday). Sorry for the short notice.
Click here to find “a theater near you.”
Category Archives: Republic Pictures
Imprint has announced their upcoming Silver Screams Cinema Collection, six pictures (complete with extras) on three Blu-Ray discs. You might dismiss this as a bit of a random, grab bag assortment of old horror movies. But that downplays all the cool stuff that’s in here — some Republic stuff, one of Bela Lugosi’s Monogram Nine and a couple of Regalscope pictures. You get:
The Phantom Speaks (1945)
Directed by John English
Starring Richard Arlen, Stanley Ridges, Lynne Roberts, Tom Powers
The Vampire’s Ghost (1945)
Directed by Lesley Selander
Starring John Abbott, Charles Gordon, Peggy Stewart, Grant Withers, Emmett Vogan, Adele Mara
Valley Of The Zombies (1946)
Directed by Philip Ford
Starring Robert Livingston, Lorna Gray, Ian Keith, Thomas E. Jackson
Return Of The Ape Man (1946)
Directed by Philip Rosen
Starring Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, George Zucco, Frank Moran, Judith Gibson
She Devil (1957)
Directed by Kurt Neumann
Starring Mari Blanchard, Jack Kelly, Albert Dekker
To me, the real jewel here is the last film, Unknown Terror, a pretty solid Regalscope picture. You won’t find this one in widescreen anywhere else, and having it in high definition is an added treat. It’s a pretty good example of the ultra-cheap Regal films. It concerns mutants and rampant fungus — and has a good part for the lovely Mala Powers.
Imprint always does really nice work, so you can count on this set being top-notch. Recommended.
That’s John Wayne in Republic’s Flying Tigers (1942).
The real reason for this post is to honor Mr. Frank Losonsky, the last survivor of the Flying Tigers, who passed away this week at 99.
The Flying Tigers were 311 U.S. military service members recruited to help the Chinese Air Force fend off the Japanese in mid-1941. Mr. Losonsky was a crew chief and sergeant with the 3rd Squadron. Thanks to the John Wayne movie, a number of books on the subject and those cool-looking planes, I’ve been in awe of these men since I was a little kid.
Directed by Fritz Lang
Starring Louis Hayward, Lee Bowman, Jane Wyatt
Another great filmmaker heads to Republic Pictures after getting the shaft by the majors — and knocks one out of the park.
Like Orson Welles and John Ford, Fritz Lang found Republic a friendlier place to make movies than the major studios had been. His House By The River (1950) is a terrific period noir/melodrama with incredible cinematography by Edward J. Cronjager. It should be stunning on Blu-Ray from Kino Lorber (we’ve seen Kino’s beautiful transfers of Republic pictures). Coming in January 2020.
I’m a huge fan of Lang’s Hollywood movies and it’s great to see some of his more obscure pictures, like this one and Moonfleet (1955), make their way to Blu-Ray. Highly recommended.
Directed by Lesley Selander
Starring John Abbott, Charles Gordon, Grant Withers, Peggy Stewart, Adele Mara
Neither Republic Pictures nor director Lesley Selander made many horror movies. Which makes The Vampire’s Ghost (1945) something worth seeking out. Add to that the fact that it’s got both Peggy Stewart and Adele Mara in it, with a story from the great Leigh Brackett, and it’s not to be missed.
The Vampire’s Ghost is making it way to DVD and Blu-Ray thanks to Olive Films in time for Halloween.
Directed by Joe Kane
Starring Rod Cameron, Vera Ralston, Mike Mazurki, Don Hagggerty, Paul Picerni, Luana Anders
This is an update to a post from way back in January.
Naturama was Republic’s widescreen process, and Vera Ralston was the figure-skater girlfriend/wife of Republic’s president, Herbert J. Yates. Guys like Rod Cameron, Sterling Hayden and even John Wayne appeared with her, grudgingly. And when Republic shut down, do did Ralston’s career.
That said, she made some pretty cool movies, and The Man Who Died Twice (1958) is one of them. In fact, it was her last — the studio tanked that year (it’s also the last Republic Joe Kane directed). It’s a low-budget crime/noir thing. Rod Cameron’s cool in it (as always), Luana Anders plays a heroin addict, and Jack Marta shot it in black & white widescreen. Sounds terrific, don’t it?
Kino Lorber will bring The Man Who Died Twice to both DVD and Blu-Ray in November. For decades, seeing Republic Naturama movies in their original 2.35 aspect ratio has been damn near impossible, so this release is a real treat (and hopefully the first of many). The transfer’s excellent — got a good look at it while working on a commentary for it. Recommended.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
This 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.”
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
To 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