In Captain America's original story, a man named Steve Rogers - who is too weak and puny to fight in World War II - is injected with a Super-Soldier Serum and develops an enhanced physique, after which he becomes Captain America and does battle with the agents of Nazi Germany. This back-story was rejected by Republic during the making of this serial, as it would have required costly retakes at the time. In the serial, Captain America's real name is Grant Gardner, he is the city's district attorney, and his foe is the Scarab, aka Karl Maaldor, played by Lionel Atwill. See more »
Chapter one: You do not smell an unknown substance with your nose. You gently waft with your hand over the container, then sniff your cupped hand. See more »
This is the voice of the Scarab, Wilson. I command you to drive your car over the cliff!
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Any resemblance to source material purely coincidental.
There have been countless film adaptations of comic strip, comic book and pulp magazine adventures. This has been true for the last 60 years or so. Hence, we have seen FLASH GORDON,BUCK ROGERS,TIM TYLER'S LUCK, JUNGLE JIM,THE SHADOW,THE SPIDER,SUPERMAN,CAPTAIN MARVEL,BATMAN and even such minor leaguers as CONGO BILL,TEX GRANGER and THE VIGILANTE (among many others)were seen on the silver screen matinée bill.
In the 30's,40's and 50's most of these were not produced as feature films, but rather in the form of the serial, AKA the chapter-play or cliffhanger. This was before the arrival of Television as the dominant media. All of the studios involved in sound serials at the time (Republic, Universal and Columbia)acquired rights to do some of these features as part of their serial output.
In 1944 Republic brought us the adventures of CAPTAIN America. One can only imagine that the juvenile audience of that time were highly excited in the expectation of CAPTAIN America being on the screen, as well in comic books published by Timley Publications (later known as Atlas and still later Marvel Comics).
Indeed, CAPTAIN America was the first Timley/Atlas/Marvel feature to be so adapted, but what happened? We all knew that C.A. was in reality Army Private Steve Rogers, a former 4F recruit who was transformed into a man of great physical power and physique (tho not super powered).Steve Rogers was to be the proto type, the first of an army of former 4F's. He had been a sort of human guinea pig for a kind of super vitamin injected into him (later accounts said a pill was used), in order to make him into the type of red-blooded fighting man we needed for World War II. (Did this foreshadow the emergence of anabolic steroids two decades later?) He wore a colorful costume, based on the American Flag. He had a juvenile assistant,"Bucky" (Bucky Barnes),who was much like Batman's Robin. He sported a shield, which functioned as a sort of giant boomerang-like weapon, as well as affording protection against enemy fire power.
He fought the Axis agents, 5th Column Sabateurs and soldiers from Nazi Germany,Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. He actually existed because of WWII, and other than the familiar figure of Uncle Sam on the recruiting posters or maybe Lady Columbia, no symbol was more representative of the USA than Captain America.
So, what of the serial from Republic? Other than the title, there is very little in common with the comic page version. His identity in the film is District Attorney Grant Gardner. He has no connection to the military.He had no Bucky, no wings on cowl and a plain .38 caliber pistol instead of the multi-purpose shield. For that matter, you'd think that there was no war going on in this story line.
This might have been okay as a serial if it was made in the pre-war years. It really should have been given a different title.
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