THE GREAT ALASKAN MYSTERY (1944)
Article 2581 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-29-2008
Posting Date: 9-6-2008
Directed by Lewis D. Collins and Ray Taylor
Featuring Milburn Stone, Marjorie Weaver, Edgar Kennedy
A noted scientist is creating a ray that can transport materials across great distances. However, his assistant is a foreign spy who has plans to steal the invention. Fortunately, a war hero is on hand to thwart the villain and his cohorts.
The first couple of episodes of this serial takes place in the snowbound regions of Alaska that the title of this serial promises us, and they’re pretty great, with lots of footage of snow and icebergs. The cliffhangers are also excellent during these first few episodes, even if they mostly consist of stock footage. However, about halfway through the third episode the location converts to some decidedly snowless regions of Alaska never to return, and with the departure of the snow, so does much of the excitement, and the rest of the serial is very ordinary. At least I took some heart that the secret invention here wasn’t some type of death-ray, but even this was short-lived; about halfway through the serial, they discover that the new invention also works as one, and from that moment on, that’s all anyone cares about it. Well, at least there’s some fun to be had with the presence of a number of actors I don’t primarily associate with serials, such as Milburn Stone, Ralph Morgan and Martin Kosleck; the latter makes for a very nice villain indeed. And the comic relief is very strong this time, in large part thanks to the presence of Laurel and Hardy cohort and slow burn expert, Edgar Kennedy, who subtly underplays the humor at every step. So, despite the disappointment brought on by the change of locale, at least a solid cast kept this one afloat.