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In Focus

In this "In Focus" section, we look at the incredible world of serials. In the following articles, we'll take you to Planet Mongo to meet Flash Gordon and a host of spark-spewing spaceships and fire-breathing monsters. We'll take you to darkest Africa to meet tomboy Nyoka and a vengeful jungle priestess. We'll introduce you to Gene Autry in his first starring role as he stumbles upon a hidden city over 20,000 feet below ground. And that's just the beginning.

Choose one of the links below and get started exploring the world of serials.

  Kay Aldridge gets roasted over a burning pit in The Perils of Nyoka.


An Introduction
This big 4,000+ word introduction sets the scene and guides you through the genesis of the serial, the arrival of Flash Gordon, the golden-age of the serial, and the downfall of the serial. [Plus, see King Vultan menace Dale Arden, an animated GIF from Flash Gordon.]

The Phantom Empire  (Mascot, 1935)
Gene Autry battles an advanced race from a subterranean world while struggling with creditors to keep his Radio Ranch open. [Plus, hear Gene Autry sing "Uncle Noah's Ark."]

Flash Gordon   (Universal, 1936)
Flash Gordon battles the wicked Ming the Merciless on Planet Mongo, while Flash's girlfriend, Dale Arden, tries to avoid Ming's lascivious advances. [Plus, see Flash Gordon battle the terrible crab monster, an animated GIF from Flash Gordon.]

Dick Tracy   (Republic, 1937)
Ralph Byrd plays Dick Tracy in the first of four Dick Tracy serials turned out by Republic.

The Fighting Devil Dogs  (Republic, 1938)
One of the great serial villains, the Lightning, hurls electrical torpedos as Lee Powell and Herman Brix come to the rescue. [Plus, see the Lightning use his terrible lightning gun, an animated GIF from The Fighting Devil Dogs.]

Zorro's Fighting Legion  (Republic, 1939)
"We ride / With the Legion that lives for today / We are ready for come what may / Men of Zorro are we!" sing Zorro's Fighting Legion. Reed Hadley dons the mask of Zorro and fights the oppressors. [Plus, see the famous statecoach stunt (by Yakima Canutt), an animated GIF from Zorro's Fighting Legion.]

The Shadow  (Columbia, 1940)
"I am the Shadow!" shouts Victor Jory as the famous masked hero. [Plus, hear Victor Jory intone "I am the Shadow!"]

Mysterious Dr. Satan  (Republic, 1940)
The Copperhead battles the diabolical robot of Dr. Satan in this crime/sci-fi serial.

Spy Smasher  (Republic, 1942)
Kane Richmond plays the Spy Smasher in one of Republic's best serials. [Plus, see Spy Smasher in the flaming tunnel, an animated GIF from Spy Smasher.]

Perils of Nyoka  (Republic, 1942)
Nyoka battles a mean jungle priestess and a despicable gorilla named Satan in this action-filled serial. [Plus, see evil Vultura barbeque Nyoka, an animated GIF from The Perils of Nyoka.]

The Tiger Woman  (Republic, 1944)
Linda Sterling stars as the Tiger Woman and fights to keep her jungle free of pesky city dudes. [Plus, see the hoochy-coochy dancer and the pit, an animated GIF from The Tiger Woman.]

Serials Web Links  
You want more information about serials? Here are the places to go on the Web.


And from past issues of Images, the following "In Focus" sections are still available:

from issue #3
Stars: Some Historical Reflections on the Paradoxes of Stardom in the American Film Industry, 1910-1960.
By Brian Gallagher.

from issue #2
Ten Shades of Noir: A Review of Film Noir Classics.
By Jack Hagopian, Grant Tracey, and Gary Johnson. Plus, Alain Silver writes about the ending of Kiss Me Deadly.

from issue #1
Hollywood Stars of the '30s, featuring James Cagney, Joan Crawford, and Barbara Stanwyck.
By Gary Johnson and Grant Tracey.

Sources for "Cliffhangers" articles.


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