In the lunar city, Cody meets Retik, supreme leader, portrayed by Diana Ross. Ummm, no, wait, that was the OTHER Supreme leader. This one is Roy Barcroft, wearing his old costume from THE PURPLE MONSTER STRIKES. By this time, I'm certain we're all tired of this plot, and guess what - it's still only chapter one, folks. Cody and the gang return to earth, have lots more fights with Krog (Retik's agent) and Krog's henchmen, and make a second trip to the moon. Finally, all the moonmen are killed and all the earth people live and our planet is spared an invasion from its satellite.
Commando Cody is wearing Jeff King's rocket suit from KING OF THE ROCKETMEN, and apparently working out of King's laboratory, too, both without explanation. Some sort of deviltry is suspected (although the next time we'll see this flying suit, it will belong to `Larry Martin' in ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE). I for one would not be surprised at all to learn that a paranoid U.S. government was replacing its own flying scientists every few months to ensure that valuable rocket secrets weren't passed to the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Aline Towne and Wilson Wood are Joan and Hank in this serial, while in ZOMBIES, they are `Sue' and `Bob', respectively. Don't tell ME the government wasn't trying to confuse the Russkies.
There's a wealth of stock footage from the aforementioned ROCKETMEN, although Jeff King was kind of tall and lanky and Commando Cody seems rather short and stocky, and so he appears to grow several inches whenever he utilizes the suit to fly, which may be covered under one or two of Einstein's theories of space/time relativity, but I dunno `cause when I was supposed to be reading that stuff in school I had my nose stuck in a FATMAN, THE HUMAN FLYING SAUCER comic book.
While on the moon, Cody and his friends wear suits and ties, although they do don metal helmets (but no gloves) to go walking about on the lunar surface. Frankly, they look kind of silly, trotting about the moonscape in freshly starched, neatly cuffed trousers with dress shoes. But most viewers won't even notice, of course, being too engrossed in admiring the beautiful cloud formations in the blue lunar sky.
Clayton Moore is Krog's main henchman, and he is absolutely as ineffectual a muscleman as you will find in any serial. Sent to rob a bank to secure funds for hiring more goons, he fails. Sent to blow up a rocket, he fails (about three times). Sent to kill Cody, he fails (in every other episode). The guy is the `Gilligan' of serial do-baddies. It's embarrassing to see the always-likable Moore in this role. In fact, believe it or not, with all of the other faults of this serial, what springs to mind as the worst is the miscasting. Wallace should be playing the loser henchman, Moore should be the flying scientist, weird-looking Don Walters, who plays a government agent, should be Retik, and Roy Barcroft should be in a better serial.
Despite the fact that Retik is launching an attack against the earth and that the U.S. government knows it and is preparing a full-scale defense and possible counter-attack, neither side seems to have dedicated more than 4 or 5 men to the tasks at hand. Cody seems especially short-handed, as the government is only able to spare one or two agents for the entire defense project.
The stock footage, usually a bonus in the later Republic serials, is poorly integrated, with the color of the automobiles for both sides changing from light to dark throughout the serial, based upon the stock footage to be matched.
Fred Brannon directed or co-directed every post-war Republic serial from THE PURPLE MONSTER STRIKES (1945) through JUNGLE DRUMS OF AFRICA (1952), but once he became the sole serial director for the studio in 1948, the quality of their output dropped fast and far. On the plus side, Roan has a good print (but not as good as their spectacular print of SOS COAST GUARD, a much better serial), and they've re-pressed the disc so that all chapters are now included. Extras include some production notes and cast biographies, plus the theatrical trailer. Avoid the much inferior Whirlwind disc.
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