One of my favorite Republic movie serials was UNDERSEA KINGDOM (1936). Produced by Nat Levine and directed by B.Reeves Eason and Joseph Kane, this was Republic's second serial and the studio's answer to Universal's FLASH GORDON. The story written by Tracy Knight, John Rathmell, Maurice Geraghty, and Oliver Drake found U.S. Naval officer " Crash " Corrigan thwarting the plans of undersea tyrant Unga Khan to conquer first Atlantis and then the surface world.
In 1966 the serial was edited into a feature film and released to television re-titled "SHARAD OF ATLANTIS". No doubt to make it sound more like the "gladiator movies" that were still popular at the time. It was in this form that I first saw this movie.
When I finally saw the movie in serial form I was pleasantly surprised to see Chapter One unedited. In it the hero's athletic abilities are firmly established as he competes as a track & field star, wins the Army-Navy Game for Annapolis and finally has a wrestling match. So we know that the hero is up to any challenge he may face in the course of the movie. Crash portrayed by stuntman and B-Western star Ray Corrigan is aided in his adventures by reporter Diana Compton (Lois Wilde), Professor Norton (C. Montague Shaw) and the professor's young son Billy played by Lee Van Atta. By the way, Sharad is the high priest of the good Atlanteans. And, he is played by actor William Farnum. The villainous Unga Khan is portrayed by Monte Blue and he is aided by Lon Chaney Jr. who plays Captain Hakur of the Black Robes.
The movie has science fiction elements like Professor Norton's super submarine, a tank-like vehicle used by Unga Khan's men, death-rays, and robots. Just enough to make it resemble something akin to Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. But most of the action comes from Ray Corrigan's athleticism.
This movie could easily have been remade during the peplum movie cycle starring Steve Reeves or one of his Muscle Beach brethren like Ed Fury.
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