Saturday Breakfast Serial 005 – The Crimson Ghost (1946) Chapter 5: Flaming Death

cg1Welcome back! It’s Saturday morning again which means it’s time for the next chapter of our ongoing serial The Crimson Ghost and more movie serial history. (Previous Chapters: 1  2, 3, 4)

So far we’ve been looking at the very early history of serials in America, but of course we weren’t the only country to realize the potential of continual stories presented  as a way to draw patrons back to the theater each week. One of the other early adopters of the form was, unsurprisingly, the French, who were producing their own movie serials at least as far back as 1908, which was the year that Nick Carter, le roi des détectives (Nick Carter, The King of Detectives) was released.

As his name implies, Nick Carter is actually an American invention, a master detective who first appeared in 1886 in a 13 part serial story in the magazine New York Weekly entitled “The Old Detective’s Pupil; or, The Mysterious Crime of Madison Square”. The story was written by Ormond G. Smith, the son of one of the founders of the publishing company Street & Smith.

Nick Carter posterCarter proved to be a popular enough character to get his own magazine (Nick Carter Weekly, which eventually became Detective Story Magazine), and later was revived as a pulp hero during the height of that genre’s popularity. He also got his own radio show during the Golden Age of Radio.

In 1908, the Nick Carter stories were also being published in France, so the E’clair studio chose him to feature in a six-part serial. Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset was tapped to direct, and Pierre Bressol starred as Carter. Like The Hazards of Helen, which I wrote about last time, whether you consider this to be an actual serial or just a series of short films could be a matter of preference, since each film stood on it’s own, though they were released every two weeks over a limited period of time, so for our purposes we’ll let the designation stand.

nc2The six episodes and their release dates were: Part 1: Le Guet-Apens (The Doctor’s Rescue) 8 September 1908; Part 2: L’Affaire des bijoux (The Jewel Affair). 22 September 1908; Part 3: Les Faux Monnayeurs (False Coiners), 6 October 1908; Part 4: Les Dévaliseurs de banque (The Bank Burglar), 20 October 1908; Part 5: Les Empreintes (The Imprints). 27 October 1908; and Part 6: Les Bandits en noir (The Bandits in Evening Dress), 15 November 1908.

The serial proved popular enough to garner two follow-ups: Nouveaux aventures de Nick Carter in 1909, and Zigomar contre Nick Carter in 1912.

I wonder how well Carter would have done escaping the poison gas that The Crimson Ghost had used to trap our hero last week? My guess is that he’d have done pretty well, but maybe we’d better  get on with Chapter 5 so we can see how he might have done it, hadn’t we?

Next time: Chapter 6 of The Crimson Ghost: “Mystery of the Mountain”, and more movie serial  history. Be here!

Old Time Radio Thursdays – #017: A Halloween Mystery Sampler

The short intro: For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Old Time Radio is the phrase generally used to refer to the time when radio was (mostly) live, and was full of a variety of different shows, as opposed to simply being a means for record labels to use robots to promote the top records of the day. Old Time Radio Thursdays is my chance to explore some of those old radio shows, their connections (both old and new) to movies, and hopefully to encourage some of the rest of you to take a look at a probably unfamiliar source of entertainment that I truly love. If you want more info on OTR, and some examples of the variety of shows that were made, be sure to check out this introductory post.

A couple of weeks ago we listened to a sampling of comedy shows with a Halloween theme. Last week, we had a creepier sampling with, a variety of different horror offerings from the Golden Age of Radio. This week, I thought we’d bring the detective and mystery shows into play, so here is a selection of dramas all somehow related to the spookiest holiday of the year.

Next week we go back to our usual format, focusing in on one particular radio show. Which one? Well, in keeping with today’s theme, I think I’ll let that remain a mystery.

Until next time, Happy Listening!