Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Dave O'Brien, Dorothy Short, James Craven, Sam Edwards, Guy Wilkerson
Director: James W. Horne
Genres: Action & Adventure, Classics, Drama
In this exciting 15-chapter adventure, spawned by the enormously popular radio show, Ivan Shark is after a secret range finder that will enable his bombers to engage in a furious reign of terror. Blazing guns, car chase... more »
The Bell Tolls for Captain Midnight....
Mark Savary | Seattle, WA | 05/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dave O'Brien leaps into battle against evildoers as the famous radio adventurer Captain Midnight. Midnight seeks to protect a scientist and his daughter from invention-stealing bad guys out to wreck America's defense effort. The bad guys, lead by Ivan Shark and his daughter Fury, stoop to new lows as they battle the Captain and plot to destroy our war effort.O'Brien fills the role of Midnight well, despite looking and sounding a bit like a young Richard Anderson (Oscar Goldman from "The Six Million Dollar Man"). Dorothy Short as the scientist's daughter, Joyce Edwards, is mostly suitable as a sort of love interest for Midnight, but mostly useless in every other capacity. She brings the helpless-girl-who-gets-in-trouble-in-almost-every-chapter to heights never dreamed of by Noel Neill, who played Lois Lane in the classic Superman TV series. Short's continual screaming and helpless antics drag the serial down a bit. Far better (and a better choice for the Joyce character!), is the evil daughter of Ivan Shark, Fury, played by Luana Walters.Joseph W. Girard plays the gruff but concerned Major Steele, who lets Cap walk all over him (apparently, in Midnight's army, being a "mystery man" means a captain outranks his commanding officer). Guy Wilkerson and Sam Edwards lend a hand as Captain Midnight's pals, who, like Captain Midnight and all the crooks, share the strange inabillity to retain their firearms when they get their foes cornered.Ivan Shark, played by James Craven, is a great villain. He is a master of disguise, and has a fabulous secret lair. Several things fail Craven however, as his personal "Arab" outfit to hide his features is discarded about half-way through the story. Also dropped is the gang members going by numbers and not names. Worst of all, Shark's purpose and motivation for trying to wreck America's defense plants is never very clearly explained. As he sneers his evil way through confrontations with Midnight, all the while operating his dubious death traps, there never seems to be any connection with the Germans or Japanese, an element that would have added to the believability of Shark as an anti-American fifth-columnist villian. One gets the sense that this serial (released in early 1942) had originally been more about a gang of rogue, criminal aviators who are after the scientist's new bombsight to serve their own ends. That would make sense, seeing as how the oft mentioned but never seen defense plant attacks were probably incorporated into the story post-Pearl Harbor.The serial is pretty good overall, with moderately suspenseful cliffhangers and some good tricks, secret hideouts, and fights. It's probably two or three chapter too long, though, and things can get a bit tedious after a while. Probably Columbia's best effort, but it's no Republic serial, for sure."
Add 1 star for hero and villain, add 2 stars for Chapter 10
Scott MacGillivray | Massachusetts, USA | 02/07/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT is a) a Columbia serial, and b) directed by James W. Horne. That's two strikes on it right there, according to some serial purists who don't care for Columbia's illogical, six-against-one fight scenes and Horne's exaggerated, tongue-in-cheek approach. But this writer likes both Horne and Columbia, and this 15-chapter cliffhanger is about par for both.
Dave O'Brien, hero of Monogram East Side Kids melodramas, PRC Westerns, and M-G-M Pete Smith comedies, has to be the most authoritative serial hero on DVD. As Midnight he speaks very quickly! and urgently! and you MOVE when he tells you! O'Brien should have done more of these serials; he does his own stunts, too. James Craven, magnificent in Columbia serials as an easily exasperated villain, plays a master of disguise here. The script has too many "great impersonations" where Character A poses as Character B (you don't buy these at all because it's obviously the same actor twice) but at least it keeps the story interesting.
The cliffhangers are standard perils except for Chapter 10, which has a doozie: Craven traps Midnight in a sealed room, then he makes the floor revolve rapidly, then he removes the walls, THEN he sets the floor on fire, and THEN he lowers a stone block on his victim! This jaw-dropping overkill looks like James Horne at work, and must have sent Saturday-matinee audiences into ecstasies.
The supporting cast is adequate. Sam Edwards is good as Midnight's teenaged pal, Joseph Girard is wooden as O'Brien's superior officer, and ingenue Dorothy Short screams too much (but since she was Mrs. Dave O'Brien, we can understand the casting).
Fun for serial fans, but not as enjoyably satirical as the Columbia/Horne "The Green Archer" and "Terry and the Pirates." Print quality is excellent throughout."
Ridiculous but fun serial!
Cuthbert J. Twiddle | Sacramento, CA USA | 07/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a ridiculous serial (What do you expect? James W. Horne is the director!) but it's a lot of fun. I particularly enjoyed the short fused master villain Ivan Shark and his inept henchmen. Dave O'Brien is fine as the Captain and the supporting cast is fine. The print quality is not quite as good as it is on some of the other VCI DVD serials but it's more than adequate. 15 chapters on 2 discs with some bonus serial trailers. Highly recommended for serial fans!"
"Reefer Madness" star takes to the skies!
Mark Shanks | Portland, OR | 01/22/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Do you remember the character in "Reefer Madness" who demands the piano player to "Play faster....Yeah, faster! Faster! Play it FASTER!!"? Well, he's the star of this over-the-top Columbia serial. Dave O'Brien IS "Captain Midnight"! Holy smokes! He delivers dialogue at a machine-gun pace and doesn't hesitate to take on half a dozen bad guys at a time. He has two totally lame-brained "assistants" who seem to exist solely for comic relief, the skull-faced Guy Wilkerson as mechanic "Icky" Mudd and 27-year-old Sam Edwards as his.....ward? Oh, never mind. They face off against the evil "Ivan Shark", who occasionally dons silky bloomers and a scarf on his face to intimidate his captives. (He should really have been featured as one of the "Lightning Bug"'s disguises in "J-Men Forever" - guess they didn't check out Columbia serials.) Why, "he even interferes with OFFICIAL BUSINESS!", barks our intrepid narrator. Shark's battle cry is "Fools! Idiots!!", since his henchmen aren't the sharpest tools around. As usual with Columbia and Horne, the plot is all over the place. Shark starts off by bombing (as in a squadron of bombers!) some factories, but even though this is 1942, he doesn't seem to have any ties to the Germans or Japanese. He loses interest in that and focuses his attention on obtaining a new "range finder", going to all sorts of trouble, includng kidnapping, torture, and other assorted nastiness. It's never really clear what his ultimate goal is, but there's plenty of action, including at least one huge fistfight per episode, plus the astonishing aerobatics of the various "aircraft" used by Midnight and Shark. Midnight is the alter-ego of Captain Albright, who reports to 71-year-old Joe Girard as "Major Steel", but again, what the whole point is remains....obscure. Picture and sound quality are very good - surprisingly good, considering the source material. Great fun all around - never takes itself as seriously as the Republic serials and is all the better for that. The "death traps" get increasingly outrageous and reach what must be an all-time pinnacle with the wild setup at the end of Chapter 10. Highly recommended for first-time serial viewers, and veterans will savor the outrageous cliffhangers."