Template:Infobox Film Captain America (1944) is a Republic Movie serial based (loosely) on the comic book character Captain America. It was the last Republic serial made about a Superhero. It also has the distinction of being the most expensive serial that Republic ever made.
The serial sees Captain America, really District Attorney Grant Gardner, trying to thwart the plans of The Scarab, really museum curator Dr. Cyrus Maldor - especially regarding his attempts to acquire the "Dynamic Vibrator" and "Electronic Firebolt", devices that could be used as super-weapons.
In a rare plot element for Republic, the secret identity of the villain is known to the audience from the beginning, if not to the characters in the serial. The studio's usual approach was the use of a Mystery villain who was only unmasked as one of the other supporting characters in the final chapter.
A rash of suspicious suicides among scientists and businessmen, all found holding a small scarab, gets the attention of Mayor Randolph. He demands that Police Commissioner Dryden and District Attorney Grant Gardner get to the bottom of the case, while openly wishing that Captain America, a masked man who has helped defeat crime in the past, were around to solve the mystery.
All of the suicides were members of an expedition to some Mayan ruins. One of the few remaining survivors, Professor Lyman, turns to his friend Dr Maldor for support. Dr Maldor, however, reveals that he is the man responsible for the deaths. He wants revenge because he planned and organised the expedition but everyone else claimed the fame and fortune. However, Lyman has developed the "Dynamic Vibrator" - a device intended for mining operations but one that can be amplified into a devastating weapon. Using his "Purple Death", a hypnotic chemical responsible for the suicides, Dr Maldor forces Lyman to disclose the location of his plans.
Captain America intervenes as the Scarab's heavies attempt to steal the plans and this leads to a sequence of plots by the Scarab to acquire a working version, as well as other devices, while trying to eliminate the interfering Captain before he succeeds in discovering Dr Maldor's true identity or defeats him.
- Dick Purcell as District Attorney Grant Gardner/Captain America
- Lorna Gray as Gail Richards, Grant Gardner's secretary
- Lionel Atwill as Dr Cyrus Maldor/The Scarab
- Charles Trowbridge as Police Commissioner Dryden
- Russell Hicks as Mayor Randolph
- George J. Lewis as Bart Matson
- John Davidson as Gruber
With a final production cost of $222,906 ($40,283 over budget) Captain America was the most expensive of all the sixty-six serials Republic produced (as well as the most over budget). The next most expensive Republic serials were The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1939) at $213,997 and Secret Service in Darkest Africa (1943) at $210,033.
Republic took many liberties with the character and this Captain America is very different from the original comic book version. These changes are more extreme than with other Republic comic adaptations, such as The Adventures of Captain Marvel and Spy Smasher. For example:
- His secret identity is District Attorney Grant Gardner rather than U'S. Army Private Steve Rogers. It is rumored that the script was originally written for a Fawcett Comic Book character called Mr. Scarlet whose alter-ego was a district attorney.
- The "Super-Soldier Serum" origin is not used.
- His famous shield does not appear, replaced by a standard gun.
- Despite the fact that this serial was made in 1944, the Nazis are not part of the story in any way.
- His sidekick, Bucky, does not appear.
- The Purple Death
- Mechanical Executioner
- Scarlet Shroud
- Preview of Murder
- Blade of Wrath
- Vault of Vengeance
- Wholesale Destruction
- Cremation in the Clouds
- Triple Tragedy
- The Avenging Corpse
- The Dead Man Returns
- Horror on the Highway
- Skyscraper Plunge
- The Scarab Strikes
- The Toll of Doom
References to the serialEdit
In Captain America V1 issue 219, it is revealed that a Captain America serial also exists within the Marvel Continuity. In this version, Captain America himself plays the role (in secret), taking the place of the stunt man who was shot during production due to the prop master being the Nazi spy Lyle Decker. Like the real-life serial, Cap's shield is replaced with a standard gun, his identity is changed, and his sidekick Bucky is absent.
In 2007, after Marvel's Civil War event, Captain America (Steve Rogers) was killed off. News channel CNN produced a special on the death, showing the serial with Grant Gardner as Captain America while it was focusing on the death of Steve Rogers.
Stunts & EffectsEdit
All the special effects in Captain America were created by Republic's in-house team, the Lydecker brothers.
- Dale Van Sickel as Captain America (doubling Dick Purcell)
- Bert LeBaron as Dr Maldor/The Scarab (doubling Lionel Atwill)
- Helen Thurston as Gail Richards (doubling Lorna Gray)
- Ken Terrell Bart Matson/Dirk (doubling George J. Lewis & Crane Whitley)
- John Bagni
- Fred Graham
- Duke Green
- Eddie Parker
- Allen Pomeroy
- Tom Steele
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- Captain America at Todd Gault's Movie Serial Experience
- Captain America at coldfusionvideo.com