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Diabolical mastermind Harry Crowel, a.k.a. Prisoner 39013, escapes and, with a seemingly endless supply of henchmen, sets out to destroy all holdings of industrialist Horace Granville, who put him in prison. One target is an amusement park, home of the three Daredevils of the Red Circle, who perform death-defying stunts. Aghast at innocent lives lost, our three heroes swear to capture No. 39013. It'll be harder than they suspect; the villain is holding the real Granville captive, and with a near-perfect disguise, has taken his place!Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
As a kid in the early TV era of the 1950s, I had the opportunity to view several serials from the late '30s and the 1940s. Apparently these were syndicated to TV stations to use as "fillers" since the network feeds weren't available (or the station didn't want to pay) during certain hours, including the after-school--i.e. late afternoon--time frame. In retrospect, it seems that our local station (WSBT in South Bend, Indiana) had a very astute--or very lucky--program director who chose the best serials out there. "Zorro's Fighting Legion," "The Mysterious Dr. Satan," "Fighting Devildogs," "The Black Widow"...they were all there. But the best of the best, in my opinion, was "Daredevils of the Red Circle." Drama, suspense, action, and a morality play (the best revenge is not to destroy one's opponent, as 39013 attempted to do, but to outdo him legally and ethically, as 39013 possibly could have done were his superior mind not warped and twisted)...these were the most memorable features of this 6-day, 15 minutes per episode odyssey that trumped sandlot baseball and other boyhood pursuits typical of the early baby boom generation. Some 45 years later, the opportunity to purchase this touchstone of my youth on VHS presented itself. Viewed with the more critical, possibly even jaded, eye of a middle-aged adult, the production does not disappoint. The plot, acting, special effects, and musical score may seem primitive by today's high-tech standards, but in the context of the times in which this serial was created, it "raised the bar," as we like to say today, for all that followed. So check it out. Imagine yourself in the late Art Deco era of engineering feats (the tunnel), sexy vehicles (the "Heritage Softtail" precursor motorcycle and '37 Buick Century straight 8 convertible, among others), and beautiful people (the impeccably coiffed and dressed "Blanche;" the trio of heroes in their flawlessly ironed suits, shirts, and ties; the elegant Granville; and even the villain 39013 as played so convincingly by Charles Middleton in first-class clothing that we seldom see today outside of a corporate boardroom), and enjoy. Maybe the subtitle of this serial should be: "the Lost World, Never to Return"...
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