Vintage Pulp Mar 17 2010
KILLER SERIAL
Nights of the old Republic.

You may not have heard of The Manhunt of Mystery Island, but this is one of the few Republic serials you can probably rent or buy. The legendary Republic Pictures made sixty-six serials, consisting of short chapters ending with cliffhangers resolved at the beginning of the next chapter, usually by means of an improbable escape. Each chapter would play at a theater for one week as a sort of opening act to the A-feature, the next chapter would run for seven days, and so on until the story was completed.

Watching a movie over the course of three months might not seem like the best way to attract customers to the cinema, but it actually worked quite well because some of the serial characters and actors were immensely popular. If you’ve never seen a serial, in complete form it would look a lot like Raiders of the Lost Ark, and there’s a reason for that—Steven Spielberg fell in love with serials when he was young and deliberately set about to make a modern version.

The plot of The Manhunt of Mystery Island is a bit convoluted to summarize here. Let’s just say it involves a scientist, a pirate, bodyshifting, and lots of fights. Or, by way of summation, consider its alternate title: Captain Mephisto and the Transformation Machine. Sounds good, right? The version we saw was back in the late 90s on VHS, but we remember it well and recommend it highly. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1945. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 25
1939—Batman Debuts
In Detective Comics #27, DC Comics publishes its second major superhero, Batman, who becomes one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, and then a popular camp television series starring Adam West, and lastly a multi-million dollar movie franchise starring Michael Keaton, then George Clooney, and finally Christian Bale.
1953—Crick and Watson Publish DNA Results
British scientists James D Watson and Francis Crick publish an article detailing their discovery of the existence and structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, in Nature magazine. Their findings answer one of the oldest and most fundamental questions of biology, that of how living things reproduce themselves.
April 24
1967—First Space Program Casualty Occurs
Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when, during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after more than ten successful orbits, the capsule's main parachute fails to deploy properly, and the backup chute becomes entangled in the first. The capsule's descent is slowed, but it still hits the ground at about 90 mph, at which point it bursts into flames. Komarov is the first human to die during a space mission.
April 23
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder, Carmen Jones, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Stalag 17, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
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