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The Master Key

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Product Details

  • Actors: Milburn Stone, Jan Wiley, Dennis Moore, Addison Richards, Byron Foulger
  • Directors: Lewis D. Collins, Ray Taylor
  • Writers: Ande Lamb, Dwight V. Babcock, George H. Plympton, Jack Natteford, Joseph O'Donnell
  • Producers: Morgan Cox
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Vci Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 250 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E97HW6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,177 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Master Key" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Bios
  • Original trailer
  • Bonus "Classic Cliffhanger" trailers

Editorial Reviews

Actors: Milburn Stone, Dennis Moore, Byron Foulger, Russell Hicks, Lash LaRue, Jan Wiley: Universal's 64th of 69 sound-era serials in 13 exciting chapters. Set in 1938, Nazi agents kidnap mineralogical scientist, Elwood Henderson (Byron Foulger) and utilize his Orotron machine, which extracts gold from the ocean. Operating under the secret leadership of "The Master Key," the gang is trailed by Federal Investigator Tom Brant (Milburn Stone). Brant is aided by detective Jack Ryan (Dennis Moore) and ace reporter Janet Lowe (Jan Wiley). DVD Bonus & Features: Bios, Original Theatrical Trailers, Bonus Classic Cliffhanger Trailers, Chapter Selection, DVD-9 / DVD-5, Dolby Digital 2.0, 250 min, B&W, 1.33:1, NR, 1945.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Kohl; on November 5, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"The Master Key" is a 13-chapter Universal serial released in 1945, directed by Ray Taylor and Lewis D. Collins. The story is by Jack Natteford and Dwight V. Babcock, with screenplay by Joseph O'Donnell, George H. Plympton and Ande Lamb. In each chapter the the foreword notes that "This is just a story. Like many good stories, it never happened and never could happen ... But let us imagine that it is 1938, somewhere in the United States."

The plot involves a gang of Nazi spies, each of whom carries a key with their identification number. Agent M-2 is Garret Donohue (Addison Richards), second in command to the unseen "Master Key" or agent M-1, who communicates at their meetings through a loudspeaker on a vacant chair. They have copied a machine, the "Orotron" which does not produce cookies, but rather extracts minerals and elements from seawater. The Nazis want it to get gold, with which to buy critical industries important to defense efforts so, as the Master Key puts it, "the industrial might of the United States will never be used against us when war comes." Unfortunately the machine requires special "Orotron tubes" which the Nazis haven't been able to duplicate, and which don't last very long. So they have captured the inventor, Professor Henderson (Byron Foulger), who is not cooperating with them. Arriving on the scene from Washington is Tom Brant (Milburn Stone) who, with Police Detective Jack Ryan (Dennis Moore) must find Professor Henderson, determine the identity of "The Master Key" and bring the gang to justice. Complicating this is a newspaper reporter, Janet Lowe (Jan Wiley) whom the police suspect may not be telling the full truth about what she knows.
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By Magnifying Glass on August 2, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
By the title, you might expect that there might be other keys other than the master key ... there are. Each member of this group of bad guys has his own numbered key. What are they for? Well, when it is time to operate the Orotron to extract gold out of seawater, each member must insert their key into their numbered keyhole on the wall safe in order to open it and remove their boxes, each which contains a unique electronic tube necessary to operate the machine.

What is the master key for? Sorry, you'll have to wait to see chapter 13 . . . .

Cliffhanger setups & escapes: mundane. The setups and the resolutions of how the main characters escape death are unimaginative - in most cases it is only by extraordinary luck that they survive. For example, in one cliffhanger, a speeding train plunges off a trestle bridge into a deep gorge - Tom Brant is unhurt ... what luck!

Extras: Bios (The bios are several text pages long; each page will display automatically after a short interval.) Trailers: "The Master Key", "Tim Tyler's Luck" (African adventure), "Riders of Death Valley" (western), and "Captain Video" (space fiction.)

DVD - 2006. Picture: varies by episode from poor to good. Defects: Generally fuzzy with many specks, occasional streaks and faint green tints. If you sit close to the screen you are likely to notice the image squirms. Most chapters have a thin black and gray bar at the top - it is most pronounced in chapter 6. Wherever a newspaper headline is shown, it is obviously cropped on the left and right sides, but otherwise the cropping is not noticeable. Sound volume normal, clear. Subtitles: none.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Decent early day serial. Good mystery as to who was the Master Key! Milburn Stone was very good in his Hero part. Many notables like Clayton Moore did some or many serials in the early part of their careers. It is fun to watch them in these serials. Also heavy about Neo-Nazi Americans as the bad guys. My favorite all time serials from this era are Zorro's Fighting Legion and Fighting Devil Dogs. Both had terrific plots and had excellent music scores plus the best villains of all time whose identity was revealed in the last chapter. They also shared honors with exciting and believable chapter endings!
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