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Captain Midnight

Entry updated 26 January 2018. Tagged: Character, Film, TV.

1. Serial Film (1942). Columbia Pictures. Directed by James W Horne. Written by Basil Dickey, Wyndham Gittens, George Plympton and Jack Stanley, based on the radio serial Captain Midnight (1938-1949) created and written by Wilfred G Moore and Robert M Burtt. 15 episodes; total running time 270 minutes. Cast includes James Craven, Sam Edwards, Knox Manning (narrator), Dave O'Brien and Luana Walters. Black and white.

Highly skilled airman Captain Albright (O'Brien), nicknamed Captain Midnight, leads the Secret Squadron, a team which includes Midnight's young ward Chuck Ramsay (Edwards) and aeroplane mechanic Ichabod "Ikky" Mudd. The opposition is led by the Mad Scientist Ivan Shark (Craven), who with the assistance of his beautiful daughter Fury (Walters) and a vast organization of hirelings is bombing US Cities, kidnapping gorgeous hostages and stealing valuable Inventions. Midnight is of course more than a match for him, but not until the fifteenth and final chapter. [DRL]

2. US tv series (1954-1956; vt Jet Jackson, Flying Commando). Screen Gems/CBS. Produced by George Bilson. Pilot episode directed by D Ross Lederman. Written by Dana Slade. Cast includes Sid Melton, Olan Soule and Richard Webb. 25 minutes per episode. Black and white.

In this early children's Television series, Captain Midnight (Webb) – or Jet Jackson, depending on where the series was shown – is supported by his bumbling assistant Ichabod "Ikky" Mudd (Melton) and his Scientist friend Aristotle "Tut" Jones (Soule). Not merely an ace pilot as in 1 above, this version of Midnight is also a super-scientific crime-fighter who each week zooms in his sleek jetplane from his mountaintop HQ to combat a new evil. The first episode, "Murder by Radiation" (11 September 1954), concerns the theft of a powerful radioactive Element by foreign agents; they are spotted by a member of Midnight's network of juvenile helpers (the Baker Street Irregulars of the Secret Squadron), and he scientifically tracks them down using a Geiger counter. The Captain Midnight scripts were poor even by the juvenile standards of the mid-1950s, and the production was visually ludicrous. Storylines often featured atomic Weapons and radioactivity, this being very much a product of the Cold War period. [JB/DRL]


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