MANHUNT OF MYSTERY ISLAND (1945)
Article 1992 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-28-2006
Posting Date: 1-25-2006
Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet, Yakima Canutt, and Wallace Grissell
Featuring Richard Bailey, Linda Stirling, Roy Barcroft
A scientist has been kidnapped and is being held prisoner on Mystery Island by a pirate named Captain Mephisto. Investigator Lance Reardon travels to the island to rescue the scientist and figure out the pirate’s true identity.
At this point, the average episode length of the Republic serial was a little less than fourteen minutes per episode, and a good deal of that running time was taken up with credits, footage from the previous episode, and a repeated sequence in which Mephisto transforms himself to his real identity (or vice versa, as the case may be). Furthermore, episode ten is one of those annoying recap episodes made up mostly of footage from previous episodes. Though there’s a part of me that’s tempted to complain, I really don’t have the heart; I like this one too much. For one thing, I like it when Roy Barcroft plays the main villain; they’re always a bit more interesting, and they take part in the fights rather than sitting behind desks and barking orders. Furthermore, the science fiction content is pretty high here; not only does the scientist come up with an interesting array of inventions, but Captain Mephisto himself uses a machine to change his appearance. It also helps that the female lead is one who actually proves useful on occasion rather than being one in perpetually need of rescue. But the real high point here is the high quality of those Republic warehouse-wrecking fights, which are in top form here. Ed Wood favorite Kenne Duncan also has a more pronounced role here as the main henchman. All in all, I rate this as one of the better serials I’ve seen.