Serial Film (1941). Republic Pictures. Directed by John English and William Witney. Associate producer: Hiram S Brown Jr. Written by Ronald Davidson, Norman S Hall, Arch B Heath, Joseph Poland and Sol Shor based on the Comics character Captain Marvel created by C C Beck and Bill Parker (both uncredited). Cast includes Frank Coghlan Jr, Nigel De Brulier, Gerald Mohr (voice, uncredited) and Tom Tyler. 12 episodes; total running time 216 minutes. Black and white.
Visiting Siam as part of a scientific expedition, young Billy Batson (Coghlan) is granted Superhero powers by the wizard Shazam (De Brulier) and becomes able to transform into Captain Marvel (Tyler). The plot revolves around a McGuffin idol known as the Golden Scorpion – "Chapter 1: Curse of the Scorpion" – which is sought by the well-meaning Scientists in hope that they can defuse its potential as a super-Weapon by separating its five component lenses. Naturally the hooded Villain the Scorpion (voiced by Mohr, cast credit "The Scorpion as Himself") has other plans for the idol which involve acquiring all five lenses and using their power for evil, world domination, etc. The special effects were rather good for their time and indeed are regarded as superior to those of the later, better-known serial Superman (1948). [DRL]
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