THE MASKED MARVEL (1943)
Article #1128 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-16-2004
Posting Date: 9-13-2004
Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet
Featuring William Forrest, Louise Currie, Johnny Arthur
A masked hero known as the Masked Marvel takes on a Japanese saboteur named Sakima.
A good deal of this serial is concerned with Sakima trying to discover the identity of the Masked Marvel (who is, incidentally, the spiffiest dresser of all the masked heroes I know of); the only thing he (or we) know is that he is one of four agents investigating the case. Actually, I don’t know why it matters; he could just kill off all four agents and assume his job is done in that regard. For me, it really didn’t make much of a difference; the four agents are so blandly interchangeable that I could have gone into this one knowing his identity and it wouldn’t have made a lick of difference. On the other hand, I’m not as clever as Sakima; I wouldn’t have placed my hideout in the room directly below the one in which the four agents make their plans, so what do I know?
All right, I’ll admit I’m poking a little fun at this serial, but it is a little bit silly. It’s also a Republic serial that is done surprisingly well; some of the cliffhangers are done so cleverly that I’m quite impressed (particularly one in which the Marvel is locked inside an armored truck careening down a winding road without a driver). This is definitely one of the better serials out there, and for those interested in trying them out, it might serve as a good place to start. However, fans of fantastic cinema should know that the science fiction elements are very slight.