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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

on January 19, 2010
For this too thin book, the 57 pages filmography (only the talkies)with chapters titles was not indispensable. Other books are more detailed. We could have wished for Cline, an erudite and devoted fan, to give some subjective assessments of the serials.
The text is on the dense side and the index is very useful.
The great interest of the book (rather pricey) is the constantly affectionate evocation of the world of serials.It's not a dry scholarly study.
Cline writes about directors, writers and cinematographers, paying due tributes. The special effects (visual) were often impressive, with not much money.
The actors are lovingly evoked at length. It's the merit and the charm of the book. To remind us of past pleasures, near ones (thanks to the work of VCI) and tantalizing unseen things.
Highly recommended for browsing.
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on May 22, 2009
Cline makes it clear that he has a fond nostalgia for the cliffhanger serial chapters he saw at the "kiddie matinees" when he was young. He starts enthusiastically by describing his excitement and sense of wonder when he saw his first serials.

But then he attempts to capsulize the entire history of serials, and gets bogged down with lists of credits and mundane details which it seems he was bored with as he assembled all the data. It makes for a fairly dry read, written in an adequate but average journalistic style which doesn't often inspire the reader to seek out the serials he's trying to be the historian for.

It ends up as a handy reference for serial fans who want to check up on information, but has little of the dash and enthusiasm of the cliffhanger films themselves.

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on July 31, 2014
I remember going to the Saturday matinee's in Melbourne Australia as a boy, especially remember Roy Barcroft as the bad guy in many of the cliffhanger serials and western movies. As many of these films are now available for download or on DVD I was looking for a reference on those earlier days, and this book is perfect. I also downloaded this book and one on Roy Barcroft from the Amazon site for my tablet.
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on September 16, 2009
anyone who remembers the columbia, and republic saturday morning picture serials will enjoy this book, with information about some of the best serials ever made. the adventures of captain marvel,1941 starring tom tyler, the very first screen batman serial starring lewis wilson, 1943, these serials are still available from [...] on dvd, this is an excellent book if your a fan and collector of republic, and columbia, serials,
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on May 7, 2009
I am a fan of the old movie serials. Since I'm almost 71, I saw most of them first-hand in theaters on Saturday mornings for $.25 and sometimes got Tom Mix goodies (decoder rings,etc....sure wish I still had those things!)This one tells about the stars,the producers,the directors and even gives some hints as to how good (or bad) they were! If you're a fan, go for it!
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HALL OF FAMEon December 30, 2007
McFarland & Co Publishing presents "IN THE NICK OF TIME: MOTION PICTURE SOUND SERIALS" (Hardcover) - By the famous Big Reel columnist: William C. Cline, the story of serials from Universal's 1930 "The Indians Are Coming" to Columbia's 1956 "Blazing the Overland Trail" --- Fifteen fascinating chapters explain the importance of "cliffhangers" to the industry as audience builders and "product leaders." The serials provided training for actors and served as a "technical university" for people who later made the television industry work.

An appendix lists in order of release all of the sound serials from 1930 through 1956, showing titles, releasing companies, chapter titles, directors and several cast members. Superb photographs.

Serials, more specifically known as Movie serials or Film serials, were short subjects originally shown in theaters in conjunction with a feature film. Known as "chapter plays," they were extended motion pictures broken into a number of segments called "chapters" or "episodes." --- Each chapter (a typical serial usually had as many as 15 of them) would be screened at the same theater for one week --- The serial would end with a cliffhanger, as the hero and heroine would find themselves in the latest perilous situation from which there could be no escape --- The audience would have to return the next week (and pay admission) to find out how the hero and heroine would escape and battle the villain once again --- Serials were especially popular with children, and for many youths in the first half of the 20th century, a typical Saturday at the movies included a chapter of at least one serial, along with animated cartoons, newsreels, and two feature films.

Most serials were Westerns, since those were the least expensive to film --- Besides Westerns, though, there were films covering many genres, including crime fiction, espionage, comic book or comic strip characters, science fiction, and jungle adventures --- Although most serials were filmed economically, some were made at significant expense --- The Flash Gordon serial and its sequels, for instance, were major productions in their times.

The Movie studios of Universal, Columbia and Republic, with Republic quickly becoming the acknowledged leader in quality serial product --- Each company turned out four to five serials per year, of 12 to 15 episodes each, a pace which they all kept up until the end of World War II when, in 1946, Universal dropped its serial unit along with its B-picture unit and renamed its production department Universal-International Pictures.

Columbia used many name brand heroes in their serials, from newspaper comics, they got Brenda Starr, Terry and the Pirates, Mandrake the Magician, and The Phantom; from the comic books, Blackhawk, Congo Bill, a time traveler named Brick Bradford, and Batman and Superman; from radio, Jack Armstrong, Hop Harrigan, and The Shadow.

Universal also made serials, but again, they used so many economies in the serials that the results (except for the Flash Gordon serials) are seldom satisfactory. Universal was able to license Green Hornet and Ace Drummond characters from radio; Smilin' Jack, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon from newspaper comics; and churned out a number of serials based on these pop culture icons.

Republic was able to get the rights to the newspaper comic character Dick Tracy, the radio character The Lone Ranger, and the comic book characters Captain America, Captain Marvel, and Spy Smasher --- Republic and Columbia continued unchallenged, with about four serials per year each, Republic fixing theirs at 12 chapters each while Columbia fixed at fifteen. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

TABLE OF CONTENTS: (Title and Page Numbers)

Prologue - ix

Introduction - 1

1. Anatomy of a Cliff-Hanger (The Formula) - 4

2. In Search of the Ammunition (The Sources) - 9

3. The Six Faces of Adventure (The Types) - 28

4. The Plotters of Peril (The Writers) - 55

5. A Cheer for the Champions (The Heroes and Heroines) - 69

6. Guardians of the Sword (The Assistants) - 97

7. The Masters of Menace (The Villains) - 107

8. Emissaries of Evil (The Henchmen) - 120

9. They Who Also Serve (The Citizens) - 134

10.In the Hands of the Enemy (The Pawns) - 148

11.Sons of Adventure (The Stuntmen) - 152

12.Masters of Illusion (The Technicians) - 166

13.Soothing the Savage beast (Ths Music) - 172

Between Chapters 13 and 32 Plates with 64 Photographs

14.The Iron Hand with a Velvet Glove (The Directors) - 179

15.Ascending the heights (The Alumni Stars) - 186

Epilogue - 198

Filmography:Serials Released from 1930 to 1956 - 201

Index - 259

Check out a new book from Empire Publishing - "GENE AUTRY WESTERNS" (Hardcover) - by author Boyd Magers, like no other book on Gene Autry --- all of Gene's Mascot, Republic and Columbia westerns included, as well as his half-hour TV Episodes --- each segment contains the release date on each film ... major production credits ... complete cast (including character played) ... all songs included, songwriter and who performed them in the film ... running time of each film ... dates of the filming ... bios on the cast and major players (Smiley, Pat Buttram, Cass County Boys, Herbert J. Yates, directors, leading ladies, songwriters and various heavies, etc.) ... locations that were used ... budgets and negative cost ... stunt people involved ... analysis and synopsis on each film ... notes and comments (including film and cast background info, salaries paid, working titles, etc) ... comments from Gene and many other cast members on each film ... theater exhibitors comments at the time of the films release ...this tribute was written from the heart and it shows.

Hats off and thanks to Les Adams (collector/guideslines for character identification), Chuck Anderson (Webmaster: The Old Corral/B-Westerns.Com), Boyd Magers (Western Clippings), Bobby J. Copeland (author of "Trail Talk"), Rhonda Lemons (Empire Publishing Inc) and Bob Nareau (author of "The Real Bob Steele") as they have rekindled my interest once again for B-Westerns and Serials --- If you're into the memories of Movie Serials, this is the one you've been anxiously waiting for --- Cline and McFarland & Co have captured the moment, please stand up and take a bow --- all my heroes have been cowboys!

Total Pages: 281 ~ McFarland & Co ~ (1984)
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on August 21, 2002
Great reference book. Concentrates on the people who made the serials rather than the serials themselves. One fifth of the volume is devoted to Filmography listing serials released from 1930 through 1956 as well as background information. Excellent index. Fantastic photos from films. Some typos. Don't read this volume until after you see the serial as the secret identity or plot twist is sometimes given away. Appreciation of the motion picture serial is greatly enhanced after reading this monograph.
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