KING OF THE ROCKET MEN (1949)
Article 3016 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-10-2009
Posting Date: 11-16-2009
Directed by Fred C. Brannon
Featuring Tristram Coffin, Mae Clarke, Don Haggerty
A madman is knocking off members of Science Associates to get the secrets of their inventions. One scientist who has gone into hiding has invented a rocket suit, and security chief Jeff King dons it in order to find the identity of the evil Dr. Vulcan.
This is the first and best of the three “Rocket Man” serials, often thought of as the Commando Cody series because of the character’s name in the middle serial. The title is a bit of a lie; there’s really only one “Rocket Man”, and he’s not a king, but he’s named “King”, which makes me wonder if they had named him Pope, what the name of the series would be. It’s more solidly made and less cheesy than the other serials, though the fantastic content is greater in its follow-ups; though there are plenty of science fiction contraptions in this one, there are no alien invaders. The villain has one of those FFICs with OIE (for those who don’t remember, that’s a Free-Floating Inviso-Cam with Optional Instant Editing, an item which pops up in movies so that villains can watch what’s going on in areas where there is no noticeable camera). It’s a little odd to see perennial villain Tristram Coffin as the hero in this one, but he does the best he can. I suspect the whole idea came from an attempt to emulate the character of Superman, only without the invulnerability which no doubt made it a little more difficult to come up with effective cliffhangers.