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Mala: Secret Agent of the South Seas (Serial)

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Editorial Reviews

The Story: International spies, superstitious natives, volcanic eruptions and dirigible disasters turn a tropical paradise into a hotbed of intrigue and sabotage in this thrilling adventure. Ray Mala is a special investigator sent by Pacific Dirigible Airlines to learn who has destroyed their base on a Polynesian island. Aided by his trusty sidekicks McLaurie (William Newell), Rex, King of the Wild Horses, and Buck, a St. Bernard (don't ask how they got there), Mala is soon up to his loincloth in danger. Whether he's dodging poison darts, escaping a molten lava flow or saving a beautiful native queen from a power-hungry witch doctor, the suspense never stops as mala closes in on "H. K.," the maniacal mastermind behind the evil scheme to disrupt world communications. In 1936 Republic Pictures filmed a serial entitled ROBINSON CRUSOE OF CLIPPER ISLAND, featuring Ray Mala, star of the 1933 documentary ESKIMO, and Mamo Clark, who played Clark Gable's native girlfriend in MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY. When the serial ran over budget, which was not surprising considering its large cast, exotic locations, and profuse special effects sequences including shipboard fires, lava pits, erupting volcanoes, and model ships, planes, and dirigibles bursting into flames, Republic decided to try to gain a little extra profit by stretching the serial out from 12 chapters to 14, thus arranging for a little extra box office income. The post-production extensions to the serial included repeated sequences, a recap chapter and cheater endings, none of which improved the serial's entertainment value. Dr. Grood now presents this serial with its "fat" -- the recaps, repeated footage, and cheater endings, all of which are glaringly out of place especially in a DVD presentation -- trimmed out, and for the first time in color! The "Malavision" three-tone color process applied to this serial was first used in the Squadron's acclaimed ADVENTURES OF TARZAN DVD and does not involve selection of areas to receive painted-on color as does colorization, but works by the assignment of color tones to highlight, midtone and shadow values already in the image to suggest the effect of natural and reflected light. This process works especially well in torchlight, firelight or outdoor sky and water sequences, of which there are many in this serial. With color enhancement and smoother continuity, the Squadron's MALA, SECRET AGENT OF THE SOUTH SEAS raises the original serial from two stars to at least three and allows the viewer to enjoy the story without the distractions the studio added for financial reasons which no longer are relevant. The elimination of cheater endings, by releasing the serial in 7 double-length chapters instead of 12 or 13, also increases the serial's credibility and gives some well-deserved credit back to its hero.


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Ray Mala, Mamo Clark, Herbert Rawlinson, William Newell
  • Directors: Ray Taylor, Mack V. Wright
  • Format: Full Screen, NTSC
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Studio: Hermitage Hill Media
  • DVD Release Date: October 14, 2008
  • Run Time: 189 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001G8DTXA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451,430 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mala: Secret Agent of the South Seas (Serial)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 2004
Format: DVD
This latest Hal Roach Studios restoration of the classic Republic Serials is NOT regionally encoded as it states in the Amazon notes. This and ALL releases in this Hal Roach Studios series are "Region Zero" and are playable anywhere in the world. And the quality is stunning--almost as good as their releases of original Laurel and Hardy material or their other Serials (ZORRO'S FIGHTING LEGION, RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON, ZORRO RIDES AGAIN, ZORRO'S BLACK WHIP, etc.)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Serial Fella on May 20, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
I took a chance after reading reviews of others which were pretty much all negative and bought this serial anyway. It is goofy, corny, off the hook silly. Get it, it's ...totally worth it....
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Format: VHS Tape
VCI Entertainment and Republic Pictures present..."Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island" (1936) (Dolby digitally remastered), a 14 Chapter cliffhanger from an action packed Republic serial featuring an outstanding cast with Mack V. Wright and Ray Taylor at the helm....story line and plot has Polynesian Mala (Mala) working with the U.S. Intelligence Service to investigate sabotage on Clipper Island...who are these group of spies causing the eruption of a volcano...is our hero involved some way keeping everyone in the dark...will Princess Melani (Mamo Clark) be convinced he has nothing to do with all the scullduggery during these exciting cliffhanger chapters...can Mala thwart the evil plans of rival high priest Porotu (John Picorri) and brings peace and tranquility once more to Clipper Island...is there no justice within the 14 exhausting chapters of this Republic Serial for the cast and crew to take their next lunch break...don't leave the theater until the final chapter is over and done with "Thunder Mountain"....just remember double thrills, chills, mystery and suspense...hitting the bull's eye with excitement...don't miss a single spine thrilling episode..return next week to this local theater for another episode of action and adventure that will keep you thrilled until the next chapter.

Under director's Mack V. Wright and Ray Taylor, producer Nat Levine, associate producer Sol C. Siegel, supervised by J. Laurence Wickland, original story & screenplay by Morgan Cox, Maurice Geraghty and Barry Shipman, musical score by Harry Grey, stunts by Loren Riebe...the cast includes Mala (Agent Mala), Rex the Wonder Horse (Himself), Buck the dog (himself), Mamo Clark (Princess Melani), Herbert Rawlinson (Mr. Jackson), William Newell (Hank McGlaurie), John Ward (Anthony Tuppe), John Dilson (E.G.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Annie Van Auken TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 1, 2007
Format: DVD
REPUBLIC PICTURES was created in 1935 by the merger of five smaller studios. REPUBLIC produced a total of 66 serials, which were known for quality and for being better than any other outfit's cliffhangers.

THE STORY of ROBINSON CRUSOE OF CLIPPER ISLAND (1936):
A U.S. Intelligence Dept. agent goes to a small Pacific island to investigate the sabotage and destruction of an airline dirigible.

CAST:
Mala - Agent Ray Mala
Rex - Rex, the Wonder Horse
Buck the Dog - Buck
Mamo Clark - Princess Melani
Herbert Rawlinson - Grant Jackson
William Newell - Hank McGlaurie
Tiny Roebuck - Eppa the Wrestler

CHAPTERS:
1. The Mysterious Island
2. Flaming Danger
3. Fathoms Below
4. Into the Enemy's Camp
5. Danger in the Air
6. The God of the Volcano
7. Trail's End
8. The Jaws of the Beast
9. The Cave of the Winds
10. Wings of Fury
11. Agents of Disaster
12. The Sea Trap
13. Mutiny
14. Thunder Mountain

CRUSOE trivia:

Of the many hundreds of sound serials produced, this is the only one that's 14 episodes in length. It's also the first-ever serial to feature re-cap chapters, which consist of film clips from previous episodes.

The story involves a dirigible that exploded. Ironically, six months after CRUSOE was released, the lighter-than-air ship Hindenburg would do exactly that: explode and crash while docking at Lakehurst, N.J.

Was one of George Lucas's inspirations for STAR WARS.

Was edited down into a TV movie in 1966.

Professional wrestler Theodore 'Tiny' Roebuck was a Cherokee Indian. He appeared in only three movies besides CRUSOE. Here Tiny portrayed (what else?) a wrestler.

.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Anthony on May 23, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Mala: Secret Agent of the South Seas" is a brilliant adaptation of one of Republic Pictures' best serials, "Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island" (1936). Directed by ace action directors Ray Taylor and Mack V. Wright, the original 14-chapter serial has secret agent Mala taking on enemy agents and saboteurs on an island fuel base, Clipper Island, somewhere in the Pacific. In partnership with the lovely and resourceful Princess Melani, they overcome several obstacles and death-defying cliffhanger escapes worthy of the best Republic serials.
Buck the Dog and Rex the Horse just about steal the show, but there's plenty of competition from Republic regulars John Dilson, the uniquitous George Chesebro, William Newell, Bob Kortman, John Piccori and George Cleveland.
Not that the original needed a lot of improvement, this Serial Squadron adaption was made bearing in mind that modern audiences are more likely to watch serials on DVD than on the big screen over 12 to 15 weeks as they were originally shown. The seven chapters remove the extraneous credits between chapters, repetitive material and tighten up the cliffhanger sequences. And to top it off they have made some modest, unobtrusive and calculated colourisation of key scenes.
The result is a serial that moves at a cracking pace with all the action you can handle deftly edited by William Witney and Helene Turner who went on to work together on the first Dick Tracy serial. Of course, the young Witney used his editing and his all-round filmmaking skills to become the premier serial and action film-maker at Republic and one of Hollywood's finest action directors right up until the 1970s.
The original serial was cleverly edited into a 100-minute film for television in 1966.
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