Back to the Old Days of Saturday Morning Pictures!
Pete Leigh | Oxford UK. | 05/07/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I believe I first remember seeing "The Black Ace-Mystery Squadron" on television in the UK broadcast from Alexandra Palace about 1951. Of course made black and white in about 1933 it features the expertise of the era. When you read that Marlon Brando and James Dean revolutionized screen acting; then by watching this serial you'll see exactly what that means. The Black Ace features acting by exponents of the 'Very Old School of Screen Movies'; the VERY meaningful look much used in silent movies and still seen here given by experts from the wooden school of screen acting, the excellent 200 dB female screams featured in nearly every episode, the cliche phrases straight from the playground of the 1950's- 'Let's get him, men' ' He went that way'and,of course, 'Black Ace calling station A'. The film set is marvellous; a lot of the action takes place in the Tavern Hotel, crammed with very obvious sercret passages contstructed from hardboard and 2" X 2" batons. The action in the Tavern Hotel often degenerates into a Brian Rix farce with the actors chasing each other round and round the set. The old planes are wonderful; straight from the Barnstorming Era and kept, of course, in secret caves of which there many and armed with the latest in modern aircraft armour- the drain pipe that appears from the rear of the aircraft that spurts a 20 foot flame when activated by an enormous light switch in the cockpit; secret radios the size of a cupboard hidden in easy to find places. Also spot where the idea for the Darth Vader Face Mask originated. No expense is spared in using the old planes as well as super motor vehicles of the era that race around everywhere not to forget the horses and lassoos. The exchange of gunfire is a sight to behold and the fights full of noisless realism. There is no gritty realism in this film; no blood and the owner of the Tavern Hotel gets shot at least three times with no ill effects. The storyline does run out of steam well before episode 12 and the episodes are somewhat repeatitive and even include the trick where the car goes over the cliff at the end of one episode with the hero apparently killed only for next week to show the same sequence with him leaping from the vehicle just before it bursts into flames. But who is the Black Ace and why are the Mystery Squadron trying to stop the Dam being built? Well, you will have to watch right through to episode 12 to find out; however, by then you may not even care but you will have had 6 hours of excellent entertainment with lots of belly laughs for a bargain price."
Black Ace is wild
Annie Van Auken | Planet Earth | 08/29/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Bob Steele and 'Big Boy' Williams are best known for the many westerns they appeared in over their long careers. Both men also worked extensively on TV (especially Steele, who portrayed Trooper Duffy on F TROOP! for two seasons).
Four of the twelve episodes in THE MYSTERY SQUADRON are recap chapters of film clips. This was a common studio cost-cutting practice.
THE STORY: A dam-project engineer hires two stunt pilots to protect an unfinished dam from THE MYSTERY SQUADRON, led by the elusive "Black Ace." Attacks from this squadron are always preceded by the arrival of a model-sized plane. The two pilots eventually get accused of being gang members, and must fight off their nemeses while simultaneously trying to clear their names.
CAST: Bob Steele - Fred Cromwell Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams - Bill 'Jellybean' Cook Lucile Browne - Dorothy Gray J. Carrol Naish - Collins Purnell Pratt - Lafe Johnson
. For more marvelous aeronautical serial action, check out SKY RAIDERS."
"Bob Steele Series ... Mystery Squadron (1933) ... Mascot Pi
J. Lovins | Missouri-USA | 04/26/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mascot Pictures and Nat Levine present "THE MYSTERY SQUADRON" (22 December 1933) (230 mins/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- with 12 Chapters of vintage serial episodes loaded with action sequences --- Bob Steele was an American actor --- He was born Robert Adrian Bradbury in 1907 in Portland, Oregon, into a vaudeville family --- Bob's career began to take off for good in 1927, when he was hired by production company Film Booking Offices of America (FBO) to star in a series of Westerns. Bob--who was rechristened Bob Steele at FBO--soon made a name for himself, and in the late 1920s, 1930s and 1940s starred in B-Westerns for almost every minor film studio, including Monogram, Supreme, Tiffany, Syndicate, Republic (including several films of the Three Mesquiteers series) and Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) (including the initial films of their "Billy the Kid" series)
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, that "new medium" television had many hours to fill and few dollars to fill them --- They re-discovered the B-Western, still a popular mainstay of Saturday afternoon matinees and many cowboy stars thrilled a new audience --- Taking advantage of this rebirth in popularity, publishers brought to the marketplace comic books featuring these western heroes of "Bob Steele" Westerns --- These bimonthly issues were copyrighted in February and April of 1950 by Fawcet Publications --- His career which included nearly 200 feature films, serials and TV appearances --- Steele in his twilight years at the age 59 when he got the part of the cantankerous "Trooper Duffy", in the western comedy series "F Troop" (1965), who at the drop of a hat would give his rendition of fighting "shoulder to shoulder with Davy Crockett at the Alamo" --- Steele retired from the screen in 1973 --- Bob's long career, spanning more than 50 years came to an end in 1988 when he passed away.
Under the production staff of: Colbert Clark - Director / Screenwriter David Howard - Director Nat Levine - Producer Wyndham Gittens - Editor / Screenwriter Barney A. Sarecky - Screenwriter Ernest W. Miller - Cinematographer William Nobles - Cinematographer Alvin Wyckoff - Cinematographer Lee Zahler - Composer (Music Score) Earl Turner - Editor
Our story line and plot, story line has Jack Mulhull and his two flyers Bob Steele and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams join the fight against "The Black Ace", who leads the "Mystery Squadron" --- the sinister Squadron is trying to destroy and keep the power dam from being built by Lafe McKee, can they be stopped or will the Squadron succeed --- who is this mystery villain called "The Black Ace" that everyone is searching for --- each episode moves from one suspect to another, can you guess the answer --- will our hero Bob Steele survive all the dogfights within each cliffhanger --- don't leave the theater until the final chapter is over and done with "The Ace of Aces" --- just remember double thrills, chills, mystery and suspense --- hitting the bull's eye with excitement...don't miss a single spine thrilling episode..return next week to this local theater for another episode of action and adventure that will keep you thrilled until the next chapter
CHAPTER TITLES: 1. The Black Ace 2. The Fatal Warning 3. The Black Ace Strikes 4. Men of Steel 5. The Death Swoop 6. Doomed 7. Enemy Signals 8. Canyon of Calamity 9. Secret of the Mine 10.Clipped Wings 11.The Beast at Bay 12.The Ace of Aces
the cast includes: Bob Steele ... Fred Cromwell Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ... Bill 'Jellybean' Cook (as 'Big Boy' Williams) Lucile Browne ... Dorothy Gray Jack Mulhall ... Henry 'Hank' Davis Purnell Pratt ... Lafe Johnson Robert Frazer ... Dr. Flint J. Carrol Naish ... Collins Bob Kortman ... Bracken Lafe McKee ... Stephen Gray Edward Hearn ... Sheriff [Chs. 2-3, 12] Kernan Cripps ... Tom Edward Peil Sr. ... Martin (hotel clerk) (as Edward Peil) Jack Mower ... Henchman Carter Jack Perrin ... Roberts (a Mystery Flyer) Horace B. Carpenter ... Express agent [Ch. 3] Richard Cramer ... Mine lookout Dick Dickinson ... Worker Frank Ellis ... Henchman at periscope Jack Evans ... Worker Al Haskell ... Worker Al Taylor ... Worker Wally Wales ... Mystery Flyer [Chs. 5-6, 10]
SPECIAL FEATURES: BIO: 1. Bob Steele (aka: Robert Adrian Bradbury) (Actor) Date of Birth: 23 January 1907 - Portland, Oregon Date of Death: 21 December 1988 - Burbank, California
If you crave action, drama and plenty of adventure check out other western double features --- Ask Amazon.Com to carry the volumes as they are not available on Amazon as of yet --- you can order and pick up your copy now from VCI Entertainment
BOB STEELE WESTERN DOUBLE FEATURES: 1. Vol. 1 - Tombstone Terror/Lightnin' Crandall (VCI #7212) (DVD) 2. Vol. 2 - The Brand of Hate/Trusted Outlaw (VCI #7252) (DVD) 3. Vol. 3 - The Arizona Gunfighter/Last of the Warrens (VCI #7261) (DVD) 4. Vol. 4 - Gun Lords of Stirrup Basin'/The Feud Maker (VCI #7275) (DVD) 5. Vol. 5 - Border Phantom/A Demon For Trouble (VCI #7311) (DVD) 6. Vol. 6 - The Kid Ranger/Nevada Buckaroo (VCI #7336) (DVD) 7. Vol. 7 - The Red Rope/Paroled To Die (VCI #7338) (DVD) 8. Vol. 8 - Smokey Smith/Sundown Saunders (VCI #7340) (DVD) 9. Vol. 9 - Doomed At Sundown/The Law Rides (VCI #7344) (DVD) 10.Vol 10 - No Man's Range/Rider of the Law (VCI #7347) (DVD)
CLASSIC WESTERNS - BOB STEELE FOUR FEATURE: 11. Border Phantom, A Demon For Trouble, Trusted Outlaw, Brand of Hate (VCI #5521) (DVD)
Hats off and thanks to Les Adams (collector/guideslines for character identification), Chuck Anderson (Webmaster: The Old Corral/B-Westerns.Com), Boyd Magers (Western Clippings), Bobby J. Copeland (author of "Trail Talk"), Rhonda Lemons (Empire Publishing Inc) and Bob Nareau (author of "The Real Bob Steele") as they have rekindled my interest once again for B-Westerns and Serials --- If you're into the memories of B-Westerns with high drama, this is the one you've been anxiously waiting for --- please stand up and take a bow --- all my heroes have been cowboys!
Total Time: 230 min on VHS/DVD ~ Poverty Row Pictures ~ (1/31/2006)"
J. D. | NYCUSA | 09/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoy some of the old 30s & 40s serial low budget productions but one of the problems is to find decent prints. Since most all of them are and have been public domain access to them has been better than ever but the caveat is to be careful or not get upset with a bad print now and then. I make sure I dont spend all that much and hope for surprises. Although there are some great remastered products out there they tend to be a little more to far more expensive and some have up to date interviews and all kinds of 'special features' which may or may not be interesting. Alpha, Mill Creek seem to offer the mass market bare bones approach and give super access to all kinds of interesting stuff that was , I guess, the precursor to today's TV programming. Mystery Squadron is a particularly early one from 1933 and it is like a visit to a whole alien world. I guess it was advanced for its day with some great aerial combat simulations, some models too , no doubt, but the hi tech bi planes doing aerobatics was good. The quality of sound and picture was pretty good through out as well. This was a very reasonable cost for 12 episodes and the cost per episode was probably 10x the cost of the Sat nickle double feature and a great bargain today. I resist watching too much at once, this one would have been tough to get through in one sitting anyway nearly 4hrs of cliffhangers and action."
Anthony Binda | St. Petersburg, FL USA | 03/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The product was delivered on time and in perfect condition. My only complaint is that the company, Alpha Video, stamps their logo randomly throughout the episodes to prevent or discourage pirating activities. Other than that, the DVD was a good purchase delivered on time."