THE TORPEDO OF DOOM (1966)
Feature version of the serial FIGHTING DEVIL DOGS
Article 1934 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-1-2006
Posting Date: 11-28-2006
Directed by John English and William Witney
Featuring Lee Powell, Bruce Bennett, Eleanor Stewart
Two marines pit themselves against a villain known as the Lightning, who has developed guided air torpedoes to destroy his enemies.
Among the batch of feature versions of serials that I’ve done recently, this one turns out the best. At least part of that reason is that it was from a serial from the thirties rather than a later one; the earlier serials were less frenetic and less episodic. There is a definite plot thread that runs through the serial, and this feature version does a very good job of keeping focused on that plot and pruning away only what is unnecessary. As a result, this feels a lot more like a feature film than some of the others of its ilk.
I do sometimes wonder if these feature versions of serials will vanish from the face of the earth at some time. Given that DVDs are an excellent format for certain forms that worked a little clumsily on VHS, I suspect that the serials themselves will be given a lot of attention, while these feature versions will be considered redundant and unnecessary. Though I do think that to some extent this is true, I still wish that they were more available than they are. But then, I wish everything was available.