Heck yeah, this is going to be a week. And I don't know why I said Heck Yeah. I don't say Heck very much, which strikes me as a missed opportunity to bring back more archaic vernacular. Heck is going the way of Darn, I think, or maybe that's just because I'm not speaking around 5-year-olds anymore. When you have small kids about you impose your own FCC regulations, but that tends to slip when they hit the latter teens. Aw hell. Dammit. You say "what the hell" around your wife but it's Heck City otherwise. You never, ever, ever say the big bad words, although you secretly suspect that you're saving them up for the moment when the kid does something so bad, so contrary, so off-the-charts stupid, because then the word will drop like a safe tossed from the top of the Foshay tower.

And if you do drop a safe, the kid won't be able to Shazam her way out of it, either. You know, like Billy Batson.


I always thought this was the stupidest comic. There's a little kid sitting next to you, and he yells SHAZAM, and suddenly there's Captain Marvel, and the kid's nowhere in sight. Once or twice in different locations you can see people being confused and doubting their senses, but given the constant appearance of Capt. Marvel wherever Billy happens to be, and the absence of Billy whenever Marvel appears, well, eventually people would figure it out. Here's a story where Billy is tied to a plane, with the bad guys hoping he will be battered to death as they take off. And then they'll be flying along with a dead kid hanging from the tail. Great plan.


He can't say SHAZAM. It would just be shzm. But he spots a rock on the runway, and calibrates his movements - while being dragged from a plane - so the gag is removed but his teeth aren't busted to screaming shards.

And no one in the plane is suspicious? Hey, that kid turned into Captain Marvel! No, that's silly. Captain Marvel appeared and freed him. That's the only logical explanation for a flying man appearing behind us. Don't go all soft on me now. Really, the very idea. A kid turning into Captain Marvel.

He is investigating a drought that has struck Minneapolis, and he is accompanied by Cedric Adams, the famous newspaper columnist for the Star.

Cedric was not . . . well, never mind.

It's quite a period piece. Local kids must have thrilled to the references:


Wow! That's our city! The drought-inflicter was operating out of the top of the Foshay tower, where he had installed some machinery and a big device on top of the spire. They had checked him out and he was a harmless crank, you see, so no one was particularly concerned, or bothered to put two and two together.

Here's the thing: the publisher of the comics lived in my neighborhood for a while. One of my daughter's friends lived in his house. When I visited and struck up a chat with the Mom, we got talking about the history of the houses in the neighborhood, and she said that some publisher named Fawcett lived here. I was stunned: CAPTAIN BILLY'S WHIZ BANG! The kitchen had the original breakfast nook, and I sat down, thinking: this was where they publisher of Captain Marvel had coffee in the morning. So of course the character would come to Minneapolis.

He'd been there from the start.

Heck of a story! Darn it all.

There's no good reason for this. The 20s updates are done for the year, and I detect no clamoring for more at the moment. (Next year you'll get more, and you'll take it and like it.) (No, really, you will! Some interesting old glamour shots of movie stars no one remembers.)


I have no idea what this means. Let's see if we can figure it out.

Frank Ishmael, Chicago stepper. If there was a gap to be closed, Frank's your man - one look at his dead, patient eyes, and you know it's come across or get invived to a bat party in the back alley.

It's from a movie magazine, so I think it's guys who plug holes in the theater schedules.



Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap. But amazing!

You'll meet - a hardened criminal who'll ventilate ya if you mention his kid again!

You'll meet - an old Churman Zientist who flips switches while looking concerned about ze echhsperiment!

You'll hear - a soundtrack that jumped in too early!


Thrill as you see - nothing!

The problem with "invisible man" pictures of this vintage? We know it's all trickery. When something fades out, we know that they stopped the camera, and the guy gets out of the picture. If there's some clever scenes where he's just wearing a hat or a scarf, we marvel at the illusion - but that was something new thirty years before this was made. The only thing we really want is someone behaving like we would if we were invisible. The book "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" was an excellent exploration of this idea, made into a crappy Chevy Chase movie.

Anyway. Our antihero criminal, who's been busted out of stir, is taken to the house where the Scientist and the Mastermind live; let's hand it over to imdb for an explanation.

Paul Krenner, an ex-major with delusions of grandeur, has forced scientist Peter Ulof to develop a radiation-based technique to turn men invisible, with which process he plans to create an invisible army to sell to the highest bidder.

He talks to the scientist about using the invention to steal stuff. He talks to the scientist's daughter - who's a rather elaborately trussed-up moll-type person.

It's all set in this guy's house, which is as dull a set as you'll find It's 33 minutes into the movie before we see the Man get Transparent. Before that it's all just talk, talk, talk, with the occasional concussion:

I love that. By the way, our antihero is Douglas Kennedy:

A tall, powerfully built man, Douglas Kennedy entered films after graduating from Amherst. Making his debut in 1940, he appeared in many westerns and detective thrillers, often as a villain. World War II interrupted his career, and he spent the war years as a Signal Corps officer and an operative in the OSS and US Army Intelligence.

This was his penultimate movie; he did one more seven years later. After this it was TV, and lots of it.

There's a heist, where the entire budget probably went for this one shot:


Eventually the Transparent Fellow - who, by the way, is named Joey Faust because he made a deal, right? Get it? - learns he has but days to live, because it turns out that getting bombarded by radiation in someone's attic lab is bad for you. He goes after the mastermind - while visible, of course; they're out of money by this point - and gets the crap beaten out of him. But Joey gets back up and shows us that the director really knows how to stage a fight scene:




Almost a Wilheim! The radium is exposed to the electrical invisible beam and everything goes up in stock-footage explosions. At the end the scientist, who is also dying from gargling radium every morning for 30 years, is talking to a cop who's investigating the explosion. The cop says you know, this would be great, this invisibility thing, if you wanted to do some espionage. The good doctor says yes, but the secret could be stolen by the other side. Why, it's a dilemma that makes one consider the moral dilemmas that characterize this uncharted, frightening modern age. Right? It's a DILEMMA, RIGHT?

Since it was already a cliche to end movies with The End? they decided to go with this:


Makes you think, man.

Oh, er, ahem:



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