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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Radar Men From the Moon
Radar Men From the Moon
Roan Group // Unrated // January 1, 2002
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted February 21, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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In a nutshell: Commando Cody with the aid of his flying suit stops an invasion of two guys from the moon.

The Serial:

The hey-day of the movie serial during the 30's into the early 40's. Some quality chapter plays were released during that time, getting children and their parents into the theater week after week. By the 1950's however, thanks to changing tastes and the inroads that television was making, serials were all but dead. The last independent serial was released in 1937 (Victory's Blake of Scotland Yard) and of the four bigger studios that produced chapter play, only two (Republic and Columbia) still made them in 1950. As sales dwindled, budgets and production staff for serials were cut to the bone, and it certainly showed. Cheap sets, scant casts and rushed scripts all worked together to make the serials of the fifties a pale imitation of the exciting installment movies that had been a theater staple for decades.

A typical serial from this time is Radar Men From the Moon, which Roan has released on DVD.

A series of strange explosions causes the US Government to contact Commando Cody (George Wallace,) the inventor of a jet pack that allows a man to fly. (Easy to use too; the only controls are up, down, on, and off.) They want the scientist to see if he can figure out what is causing these disasters. With his two plucky assistants Joan Gilbert (Aline Towne) and Ted Richards (William Bakewell) the flying Commander Cody uncovers a sinister plot. He discovers a ray gun that is powered by an unknown element. Quickly, the three take off in Cody's home made rocket and head for the moon. (Where else could an unknown element come from?) There he finds that Retik (serial regular Roy Barcroft,) the ruler on the moon, wants to conquer the Earth with his supply of 'lunarium.' Making a quick escape, the trio head back to Earth, where they are the only defense against Retik's agent Krog and his two incompetent henchmen Graber (played wonderfully by the once and future Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore) and Daly (Bob Stevenson.)

The plot sounds promising with a trip to the moon and an invasion from space, but Republic decided to forego any sense of wonder or grandeur and instead filled each episode with fist fights and shoot-out, typical of the poorest western serial. This serial quickly becomes repetitive, with one fight scene blending in with another.

This is just a poor serial on many levels. There is hardly any cast. Only two moon-men ever invading, and they had to hire local henchmen. I've seen cub scout packs that look more intimidating. Added to that is the fact that their convoluted and nonsensical plan for conquest is about as realistic as a Wile E. Coyote plan for capturing the Roadrunner.

The cliffhangers and really lame too. They often involve an unconscious Cody waking up at the last moment so he can roll out of the way of danger or turn on his flying backpack. The

If that wasn't bad enough, this serial uses a lot of footage from two other serials, King of the Rocketmen and The Purple Monster Strikes. The first featured a man in a flying suit exactly like Cody's, and the latter stared Roy Barcroft as another villain who just happened to wear the same costume. Scenes from these two previous serials were liberally used to save money, and the result is a pathetic mess.

The serial's main, and only, claim to fame is that it introduced the character of Commando Cody. Cody would return (played by Judd Holdren) in the TV series Commando Cody, Sky Marshall of the Universe. Like this serial, it would only last twelve episodes. (With one episode repeated at the end.)

The DVD:



Audio:

The mono soundtrack fit the serial very well. There was little noise or hiss, and distortion was also at a minimum.

Video:

The full frame black and white picture was very good. The image was very clear and there was a good amount of contrast. The picture was bright and there were a wide range of grey levels. The print that they used was of high quality, with only very occasional spots or dirt.

The only complaint I have is that there is a fair amount of aliasing in parts and some mosquito noise due to the digital noise reduction. Other than that, this is a nice looking disc.

Extras:

There are some text bios and a couple of text pages about the serial itself, as well as a trailer.

Final Thoughts:

Though the sound and video are very good on this release, the serial itself is a major disappointment. Made in the last days of the serials, the budget for this one was very small, even for a chapter play, and the lack of quality shows. A repetitive and uninteresting serial, this one is best kept as a rental.

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