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VCI Entertainment and Columbia Pictures present "Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere" (1951) (digitally remastered), 15 Chapters of a sought after vintage serial loaded with action sequences...there is a great deal of entertainment here for the cliffhanger fans out there...finally for the first time on video the really great Columbia Serial that broke the mold...we have everything a serial fan would want...the tinted sequences by Cinecolor and unique inventions that were unlike any other serial out there in the '50s...now to the plot as the Planet Atoma looks dusty, unlivable and is ruled by despot Vultura...looks like a sequel to the "Buck Rogers" serial...will the Planet Atoma rule the universe beginning with our planet Earth...can Captain Video and his Ranger sidekick stop this mad scheme...how can his technology overcome this vast weaponry of Vultura...be prepared to watch the different tinted scenes which at that time was really something ...don't pass this one up or Captain Video will be hot on your trail.
Under director's Spencer Gordon Bennet and Wallace Grissell with screenplay by Royal K. Cole and Sherman L. Lowe...the cast include Judd Holdren (Captain Video), Larry Stewart (Ranger), George Eldredge (Tobor), Gene Roth (Vultura), Don C. Harvey (Gallagher), William Fawcett (Alpha), Jack Ingram (Aker), I. Stanford Jolley (Zarol), Jimmy Stark (Ranger Rogers), Skelton Knaggs (Retner), Rusty Wescoatt (Beal)...another great serial provided by Columbia Pictures during their heyday in the early '50s.. this serial is one of the best...stuntwork is outstanding and the special effects were astounding for its time...must make mention to keep your eyes peeled for B-Western and Serial veterans Jack Ingram and I.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
So you'll know: Not the TV Series.Jan. 15 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
If you're looking for the 1949-1955 TV series with Al Hodge as Captain Video and Don Hastings as the Video Ranger, this is not it. Unhappily, most of all the footage from that series died when the old Dumont Network died in the late 50's.
For those of you like me who are nostalgic over the TV series, there are a number of websites about Captain Video, so see Wikipedia for a starting place with links: [...]
THIS DVD is the movie serial that was made with different actors, and seems to be the FIRST TV Show to be made into a movie!
Just thought you might want to know...
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
I love the old movie serials!Oct. 12 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
I have three Flash Gordons, a Phantom and now, Captain Video! First, the serious criticism. Wooden acting, cheap-looking sets, hand-drawn animation special FX, an impossibly involved, contrived plot, meaningless science-babble jargon. But those are also the charms of this serial. If you want to enjoy some campy fun with good guys versus bad guys, no blood and gore, action a-plenty and happy ending, welcome to Captain Video!!!!!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great Collection!April 29 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Captain Video rules! I bought this DVD on a whim not expecting much during amazon's sci fi dvd sale. This is actually a great serial. The quality of the DVD is really really good considering i've read that many of the episodes were destroyed in the 70's for its silver content. Great fun for the whole family if the kids can stand cheesy effects compared to tv today. But this show is clean and fun for all ages and you can't beat the $13 price tag for 2 DVD's. Also from reading many reviews of the VCI logo that appears in the corner of the screen, they must have re-released these DVD's because the logo has not popped up on my screen ever. The back of the box states copyright 2007 and it was originally released in 2005. Buy this collection you won't be disappointed!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Almost perfectJan. 27 2011
R. G. Bright
- Published on Amazon.com
VCI built a huge reputation for providing high quality serial transfers. Much better than Alpha who freeze frames opening credits, adds their logo in the corner, and add sound effects to the sound tracks. VCI did a superb job with this release. My only two gripes. I wish they did NOT put their VCI logo on the corner of the screen. It's so large it almost takes up the bottom fourth of the screen! Why they did that, I don't know. Word has it they stopped doing that, thankfully. Secondly, this was historically the only serial to be theatrically released in color. Actually, color tints. So they added color tints for many scenes. I consider this an alteration, not a restoration. Odd thing. I have a copy of this same serial I bought from the same person who supplied serials to VCI and my copy was almost the exact beautiful quality, but with no color tints, and no logo. So you can get an un-altered version floating out there.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
"a concentrated shower of cosmic wastes..."June 21 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
"Captain Video," the 1951 Columbia serial is in 15 chapters, directed by Spencer Bennet and Wallace Grissell, based on the DuMont network live television program.
The plot has a villain, Dr. Tobor (George Eldredge), meddling with the Earth's weather, with help from Vultura of planet Atoma (Gene Roth), who wants control of the universe including the Earth, and has started by invading and mostly conquering planet Theros. Triangulating some measurements of magnetic impulses, Captain Video (Judd Holdren) and the Video Ranger (Larry Stewart) visit Dr. Tobor, who claims he is trying to counteract the evil forces causing the weather problem. Soon, however, Dr. Tobor takes off for Atoma, trying to make it look like he was abducted, and with Vultura's remote-control equipment tries to blast Captain Video's space ship by activating and guiding a couple dormant comets.
There have been a few rather unjustified complaints about the serial adaptation. First, that "Tobor" is a cheap reuse of a character name from the TV show. I did extensive research (at least 15 minutes with Google) and found that the episodes usually called "I TOBOR" and written by Isaac Asimov didn't air until 2 November 1953, almost two years after release of this serial. There seem to be a few references suggesting that Tobor was used earlier but nothing specific mentioned in descriptions available for those shows. The 1946 Columbia serial "Hop Harrigan" includes a Dr. Tobor, and is likely why the name was used here.
There has also been a complaint that the serial doesn't have much connection with the television program, but the few episodes that exist from before 1951 are mostly different in the pacing, owing to the amount of action that could be presented on live TV, and a desire to stretch the stories out longer for the daily program. The writers were careful to include many standard gadgets and procedures used on the television show, and reference Dr. Pauli, the main villain in the early days. Columbia's plot has to follow the conventions of serial movies, so there are a lot more fights, but the basics of the show are included.
Careful examination reveals a few minor technological blunders. We know from "Undersea Kingdom" that it is dangerous to be near operating rocket motors, yet Dr. Tobor and Vultura have their similar spacecraft launch from their laboratories. It's good that Captain Video had his version of the spacecraft launch from the next room; Gallagher (Don Harvey) is needed to operate many scientific devices to save his boss and the Ranger from certain death. At one point our hero is dumped into space, beyond normal gravitational pull, but he apparently still has enough air to breathe; the concern expressed is getting him back to Earth. The number of clever scientific devices carried by Captain Video is a little high, but I doubt the original theatre audience members were concerned about this. It is also unlikely that those involved at Columbia Pictures thought what they were doing was "cutting edge" unless that meant "cutting the budget" with the garage-sale acquisition of the robots last seen 16 years earlier in "The Phantom Empire." Columbia's animated space ships, recycled from the Superman serials are even tackier in their own way than the sparkler-powered ones in the 1936 Flash Gordon serial, which were far from "cutting edge" at that time. But mention should be made of the "cosmic vibrator" which can stun adversaries, and even open locked doors. This appears to be a prototype for the "sonic screwdriver" used on "Doctor Who" many years later.
As for plot and acting, one shouldn't expect much, and while Judd Holdren may seem a bit wooden, he, Larry Stewart and Don Harvey are to be commended for their ability to keep a straight face, even while mentioning the "opticon scillometer." George Eldredge as Dr. Tobor gives a better performance, but Gene Roth as Vultura deserves sympathy; about all he gets to do is talk into a microphone while flexing his mighty stomach muscles. The cliffhangers are resolved with too many handy devices, often remotely controlled from Captain Video's headquarters, and the threat from Atoma is only occasionally present. There are a number of continuity errors but great drama this isn't, and such details are less obvious when watched with a day or so between chapters. At least the plot moves along, with far better dialogue than what Republic had at the time. And there is good nostalgia in some of the equipment, such as mechanical calculators, the 8mm movie projector that activates "Dr. Pauli's cloak of invisibility" and the Brush tape recorder with reels that turn in opposite directions. While it isn't used, Captain Video's laboratory includes an oscilloscope; one made by DuMont, of course.
The tinted sequences, while unusual for the 1950's and the only example I've heard about in sound serials, were fairly common during the silent era, though not by Cinecolor. The tints in VCI's DVD are a "restoration," used only on Atoma (red) and Theros (green) while the bulk of the action is on planet Earth, where everything is in shades of gray. A video seen elsewhere of Chapter Four, apparently from a faded Cinecolor print, shows red tinting on the main title and opening credits, and yellow on the Chapter Four and "next week" titles, but unfortunately that chapter has no scenes on Atoma or Theros.
VCI's release, #8428 is on two DVD's, and is a mostly clean transfer, though there are a few problems. The image is reasonably free of scratches and dirt, and the gray scale is fine, but it could be a little sharper. Edge focus is decidedly soft, suggesting a 16mm reduction print, and a few splices interrupt the dialogue and narration. There are two recurring vertical scratches, not seen often but present in more than one chapter, about a third of the way in from each edge of the screen, and it is at these points that the restored image pulls in with a "funhouse mirror" effect for a few seconds in a couple places. The sound often has some audible flutter and sprocket-induced buzz along with a little noise and distortion, but none of this is too serious. Overall this is a fine edition, and as an update, the "pop-up logo" issue mentioned in other reviews has been corrected; new copies do not have them. The "extras" include trailers for serial movies "Superman," "The Green Archer," "Captain Marvel" and "The Phantom Empire" plus the one for the 1954 feature "Target Earth." There are "bios" of Judd Holdren, Larry Stewart, Gene Roth, Spencer Bennet and Wallace Grissell, and a "promo" of other serials available from VCI with brief trailer clips.
This is an entertaining serial, for those tolerant of such nonsense, and VCI's transfer, if not ideal, is quite good. The animated menu, while amusing the first time it is seen, requires a long wait before the selections become active and the sound is loud, so when watching one chapter at a time be sure to use a player that remembers where it was stopped.