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)