LOST PLANET AIRMEN (1951)
Feature Version of KING OF THE ROCKET MEN
Article 2156 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-9-2007
Posting Date: 7-8-2007
Directed by Fred C. Brannon
Featuring Tristram Coffin, Mae Clarke, Don Haggerty
Rocket man Jeff King tries to defeat a saboteur known as Dr. Vulcan.
By their very nature, feature versions of serials will always be problematic, but I think a real distinction can be made between those made for television distribution in the mid sixties and those made in other eras. The ones from the sixties tended to try to fit all the action of the serial into one feature, and usually ended up with energetic but dull confusion. The best thing about this one is that it makes no attempt to include all the action; it picks and chooses which parts of the story to include, and the result is a somewhat better example of the form. This is, of course, culled from the first of the Rocket Man serials (“Rocket Man” is generally remembered as “Commando Cody”, though he only appeared with that moniker in one of the serials). I’ve never seen that serial, but based on this feature version, I suspect it may be the best of the Rocket Man serials, though it still looks like it was made in Republic’s waning years. Hero Tristram Coffin certainly has a familiar face, and I’ve seen him in several other serials, though usually as a villain.