Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Now! You Can Be King of the Rocketmen for a Mere $220!

Many serial enthusiasts, the Mayhem included (and I trust you’ll note how the “the” in front of Mayhem makes me seem all dark and mysterious) think the last great motion picture serial was Republic’s 1949 chapterplay, King of the Rocketmen. It featured the premiere of Republic’s bullet helmeted rocket suit which was later featured in the more often seen and very silly Radar Men from the Moon, Zombies From the Stratosphere and the 12 episode Commando Cody TV series.

Unlike its campy offspring, King of the Rocketmen is a deadly serious adventure about a flying superhero’s efforts to stop the ever escalating evil of the murderous Doctor Vulcan. The serial’s exciting climax features Vulcan using his decimator ray to create an earthquake which causes New York to be destroyed by a tidal wave. In one of the greatest serial finales ever, Rocketman and Vulcan duke it out in the villain’s secret headquarters as the military drops tons of bombs down upon it.

Despite the serial’s grim tone, some of the dialogue seems dumb, particularly a line from the Rocket Suit’s creator, Doctor Millard, telling Jeff King, the future Rocketman, to “fly slowly and close to the ground” for the first few test flights.

Well, it turns out that Millard’s caution was on the money.

This month’s Popular Science has a squib about the real world’s first general public-accessible one man flying rig, the Martin Jetpack. It explains how for $220 you’ll be able to take a 10 minute test flight using the Martin Jetpack, but: “computers will cap public rides at around five feet and 10 mph”. In other words, you can fly slowly and close to the ground, just as advised by Doctor Millard – 60 years ago!

Here’s a nice history of the Rocketman films:

You can see the original rocket suit in Bob Burn’s amazing basement, here:

Our friend Bill Black offers the King of the Rocketmen serial for sale, here:

And here are some related film clips:

As always, the images and movies are copyright by their respective rights holders and the Masked Mayhem and related text and images are copyright Will Meugniot 2009.

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  1. AND... another great blog from the masked one.
    I was working in movies houses in the 1950's
    and Rocket man was fun to watch.. The other
    one was "Terry and The Pirates". I really enjoy the masked one's blogs!!!

  2. I love Commando Cody. You have to check out the Dark Void game coming out next month the main character definite tribute to the Rocketmen series.