Radar Men from the Moon (1952)
Film review #389
Director: Fred C. Brannon
SYNOPSIS: After a series of devastating attacks across the planet, Commando Cody is assigned to travel to the moon in a rocket ship to investigate the theory that the attacks are being launched from there. While there, he finds that the ruler of the moon Retick has been ordering the attacks in order to pave the way for a full scale invasion of Earth, and only Commando Cody and his friends can stop it…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Radar Men from the Moon is a 1952 movie serial comprised of twelve chapters. The first chapter opens showing aerial attacks across the globe, destroying vital infrastructure. Commando Cody and his friends are visited by a government official who believes that the attacks are originating from the moon. Cody has also come to the same conclusion and coincidentally his friend ted has just finished building a rocketship that can fly to the moon. Cody and his friends travel to the moon to investigate, where they find the leader of the moon, Retik, has ordered the attacks to prepare for a full-scale invasion as the moon’s atmosphere is evaporating and making it uninhabitable. Cody manages to steal one of their ray guns and take it back to Earth, while one of the Moon’s inhabitants, Korg, who is stationed on Earth, tries to get the ray gun back and stop Cody along with his hired goons. The fundamentals of the story have been done in many serials before (Flash Gordon, Brick Bradford etc.) so it’s nothing really original, and it’s got all the usual action scenes, chases, cliffhangers and the like. I’ve reviewed so many of these serials now they all somewhat blend into one, and it takes something special to draw my attention. As I have mentioned before, this is the sort of thing you could get away with at the time, as there was no home media or way to rewatch them, and as these are mostly aimed at a younger audience, they may not have seen the older ones, so it was easy to get away with it. With the onset of television at this time though, people could start watching this serial format at home rather than going to the theatre every week, so serials would become less and less popular, although not too many people would have televisions, so the serial format had a few years of life yet. By this time though, the tropes of the format had been well and truely done to death.
This serial is the first to feature Commando Cody, who would have another serial a year later. The flying rocket suit he uses however, was featured in the 1949 serial King of the Rocket Men. There’s no continuity between the two, but as mentioned the younger audience would probably not have watched the previous serial, but may recognise the imagery, as it was quite a unique suit, and the flying mechanics and effects were something new. Radar Men from the Moon re-uses a lot of the rocket suit footage from that film of him flying through the air and such, which again it could be gotten away with at the time. The rest of the characters are the usual cast for the format: one female, a sidekick, the villainous henchman and the alien leaders dressed in bizarre clothing so you know they are alien. There’s some interesting props and sets when the cast are on the moon, with vehicles and underground bases, but that’s the only thing that really stands out. Overall, Radar Men from the Moon is just another standard sci-fi serial. Nothing horrifically bad about it, but nothing to set it apart from all the others that do the exact same thing. Just another one for the pile I guess.