S.O.S. Coast Guard (1937)

Article #1374 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-18-2004
Posting Date: 5-17-2005
Directed by Alan James and William Witney
Featuring Ralph Byrd, Bela Lugosi, Maxine Doyle

A scientist invents a gas that disintegrates everything and has sold a shipment of it to a foreign country. It is up to Lt. Terry Kent of the Coast Guard to prevent this from happening.

Most of Bela Lugosi’s serials are on the cheesy side; it doesn’t mean they weren’t fun, but the cheapness was pretty obvious. This is probably the best of his serials in terms of production quality (having been made with Republic), but unless you’re watching the last and the first episodes, you might be a bit disappointed if you’re a Lugosi fan, as he usually has only about a couple of minutes in each episode. Most of the running time is devoted to the good guys, with soon-to-become-Dick-Tracy Ralph Byrd as the main hero, with standard issue girlfriend (Jean Norman) and comic relief sidekick (Lee Ford). The movie also has a nice turn from Richard Alexander as Lugosi’s giant mute henchman, and he is the most memorable character other than Lugosi himself. All in all, this one is pretty good, but sometimes I wonder if I should have reviewed serials one episode at a time; at least one of the episodes of this one (either the 8th or 9th; I can’t quite remember) is truly as thrilling as I’d always dreamed serials should always be when I was a kid; sadly, when i first saw them as an adult, they rarely lived up to the hype.


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