Serial Film (1945; cut vt D-Day on Mars 1966). Republic Pictures. Produced by Ronald Davidson. Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennett and Fred C Brannon. Written by Royal Cole, Albert DeMond, Basil Dickey, Lynne Perkins, Joseph Poland, and Barney Sarecky. Cast includes Roy Barcroft, James Craven, John Davidson, Bud Geary, Dennis Moore and Linda Stirling. 15 chapters, 201 minutes total. Cut to 100 minutes for television. Black and white.
From his observatory, Dr Cyrus Layton (Craven) sees what he takes to be a meteorite impact and investigates. He finds the wreckage of a Spaceship whose only survivor is a humanoid Alien (Barcroft) from Mars. Assuming the alien is friendly, Dr Layton takes him to the observatory and shows him plans for his new "jet plane", a combination aeroplane/spacecraft. Revealing himself to be The Purple Monster on a mission to prepare the way for Invasion, the alien kills Layton with a form of carbon dioxide gas. Able to inhabit the bodies of others, the Purple Monster assumes the guise of Layton, then steals the plans for the new vehicle as blueprints for a Martian invasion fleet. Layton had called his niece Sheila Layton (Stirling) beforehand about the apparent meteorite; she arrives with her boyfriend Craig Foster (Moore), but both are taken in by the deception. Catching Garrett (Geary) attempting to steal the spacecraft plans himself, the Monster recruits him and his criminal gang to aid in building a vehicle for the flight back to Mars.
Sheila and Foster realize something is wrong and the Purple Monster tries to eliminate them, leading to a long series of routine serial-adventure chases, escapes and assorted traps including rooms rigged to explode, Poison gas, electrocution and a mind-control gas. Craig and Sheila finally discover that Dr Layton is actually the alien. He flees in the now-completed spacecraft but is destroyed by another of Layton's convenient Inventions, the sonic pulse cannon. All ends well.
The Purple Monster Strikes, average at best, was the first post-World War Two sf serial and was filmed in part near the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. The Purple Monster's outfit reappeared in several other serials including Radar Men from the Moon (1952). Like most such films, it is much easier to digest in its edited television form: D-Day on Mars. [GSt]
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