Captain America serial (1944) starring Dick Purcell, Lorna Gray, Lionel Atwill
The Captain America serial from 1944 is loosely based on the comic book character. He’s pursuing an evil scientist, in pursuit of a super weapon …
To say that the Captain America serial is loosely based on the comic book character is a massive understatement. Other than the costume, there’s really no connection to the comic book character
|Comic Book||Captain America serial|
|Secret identity:||Steve Rogers||Grant Gardner|
|Sidekick:||Teenage Bucky Barnes||Secretary Gail Richards|
|Enemies||Nazis, particularly the Red Skull||Dr. Cyrus Maldor / The Scarab|
|Powers:||Superhuman strength, stamina, |
athletic ability due to the
Super Soldier Serum
Having got that out of the way, the Captain America serial is a fairly standard Republic Pictures movie serial. The villain of the movie is Dr. Maldor, a scientist. He feels slighted by the lack of recognition he receives. So, he uses his “purple death” gas to temporarily take control of people. He first uses it to kill the other members of the expedition that he organized. And he leaves the dead men holding a small scarab. One of the members has developed a device for mining, that Malodor intends to change into a weapon.
Cast of characters in Captain America serial
- Dick Purcell (Reveille with Beverly) … Grant Gardner / Captain America. Generic serial hero. Death trap at the end of each chapter, escapes and continues at the beginning of the next.
- Lorna Gray (You Nazty Spy, The Man They Could Not Hang) … Gail Richards. District Attorney Gardner’s secretary and gal Friday. She gets caught & rescued several times.
- Lionel Atwill (Man Made Monster, The Vampire Bat) … Dr. Cyrus Maldor / The Scarab. He does his villainous best as the sinister villain. He’s very entertaining, and probably half the reason to enjoy the serial.
- Charles Trowbridge (The Paleface, The Man With Nine Lives) … Police Commissioner Dryden.
- Russell Hicks (Scarlet Street) … Mayor Randolph.
- George J. Lewis … Bart Matson. One of the Scarab’s men. Eventually captured, though on the verge of death.
- John Davidson (Adventures of Captain Marvel) … Gruber. One of the Scarab’s men.
- Frank Reicher (King Kong) … Dr. Lyman. Inventor of the perpetual life machine.
- Al Ferguson … Detective
- Howard C. Hickman … Lyman’s Attorney.
- Tom London … Mack.
- Edward Van Sloan (Dracula 1931) … Gregory.
- The Purple Death (25:40). First chapter, introducing the characters. Setting The Scarab’s m.o. and motivation.
- Mechanical Executioner (15:38)
- The Scarlet Shroud (15:33)
- Preview of Murder (15:33)
- Blade of Wrath (15:33). Gail’s about to be beheaded by a giant paper cutter! No, really.
- Vault of Vengeance (15:33). Cap’s about to be crushed at the bottom of a mine shaft! Oh no!
- Wholesale Destruction (15:34). The Scarab’s men are pumping nitrogen throughout an oil plant, to blows it up. And Cap’s trapped inside!
- Cremation in the Clouds (15:33). Ha! it only looked like he was trapped inside! And Cap limited the damage to only 1 building. So, The Scarab’s men have rigged Grant’s plane to explode! And Gail’s the pilot!
- Triple Tragedy (15:33). Remember when we saw the plane explode? They rewrite that at the beginning, so Cap can radio Gail to parachute out in time. And they set a trap for The Scarab. Which backfires, as Gail’s caught by a trapdoor. And they’re going to blow up the building, with her and Captain America in it!
- The Avenging Corpse (15:33). Of course Gail & Cap actually escaped before the building explodes! This really feels like cheating at this point. But there’s a “perpetual life machine” invention for the Scarab to steal! And the villains wire a shack to blow up when Cap goes in it …. But Gail’s inside!
- The Dead Man Returns (15:33). But, of course, Gail walked out moments before. This is getting monotonous. Matson falls to his death, but the Scarab’s going to force Dr. Lyman to revive him. And Cap and one of the Scarab’s men are trapped in a 1,000,000 volt generator. Oh no.
- Horror on the Highway (15:34). Another “cheating” escape from the death trap.
- Skyscraper Plunge (15:33)
- The Scarab Strikes (15:32)
- The Toll of Doom (15:33)