Jack Armstrong (1947)
Film review #408
Director: Wallace Fox
SYNOPSIS: When a valuable shipment and scientist Vic Hardy are kidnapped, young Jack Armstrong along with his friend Billie, his Sister Betty, and their Uncle Jim Fairfield, all attempt to find and rescue him. They eventually track him to an island in the Pacific, where an evil scientist has hidden Hardy away in a secret laboratory where he is building a weapon that could enslave the world. Jack and his friends must deal with the native islanders and the scientist’s henchman before the weapon is completed and the world is at their mercy…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Jack Armstrong is a 1947 movie serial based on the radio play of the same name.The serial opens up with young Jack Armstrong and his friend Billie along with his sister Bettie working on a car at the Fairfield aviation company, which Billie and Bettie’s Uncle Jim owns. Almost as soon as the serial starts, a hit and run takes place outside the Fairfield office, so Jack and Billie jump in their car and give chase. This car of theirs is a huge beast that just looks like a big steel box put over a normal car. Nevertheless, it gives the opportunity for the serial to open on an action-based note, and to entice viewers to stay and come back for the rest of the serial’s chapters. After Jack and Billie catch the driver, their car is never seen or mentioned again, which is a bit naughty opening with it and thus giving the impression you will see more of it in the next chapters.
One of Jim’s employees, Hardy, is monitoring some strange signals in the ionosphere. One of Jim’s customers named Pearce overhears this, who is working for the gang making those signals for some evil scheme, and has Hardy kidnapped so he can be forced to help with their plan. Jack and the gang track Hardy down to an island in the Pacific Ocean, which they travel to, but their plane is shot down on approach. The rest of the serial takes place on the island, where they meet the owner of a trading outpost named Grood, who is secretly the mastermind of the evil scheme to rule the world through building a weapon and deploying it in the atmosphere. The story involves Jack and the gang dealing with Grood’s henchman, as well as the native tribes that inhabit the island, and later on Pearce when he shows up on the island still pretending to be our heroes friends.