22 July 2004 | bsmith5552
Low Budget So So Serial!
"Jack Armstrong" was based on a popular radio series of the day, "Jack Armstrong, The All American Boy". Columbia had had some success in translating popular comic book heroes to the screen, but came up a little short on this one.
Jim Fairfield (Pierre Watkin) is the head of an aviation company whose head scientist Vic Hardy (Hugh Prosser) has discovered cosmic radioactivity being employed in experiments coming from a distant off shore island. Hardy is kidnapped and taken to the island and forced to aid the evil doers. Fairfield, Jack Armstrong (John Hart) and Fairfield's niece Betty (Rosemary LaPlanche) and nephew Billy (Joe Brown Jr.), decide to investigate.
There they discover that an evil scientist, Jason Grood (Charles Middleton) is behind a scheme to conquer the world through the development of a super annihilator ray and a space ship called the "aeroglobe". The aeroglobe is capable of launching into space and destroying cities with its deadly ray (shades of Star Wars 50 years ahead of its time). Its up to Jack and the gang to foil the baddies.
Assisting Grood are Professor Zorn (Wheeler Oakman), Blair (Jack Ingram), Pierce (John Merton) and Lane Bradford, Terry Frost and Don C. Harvey among others as various henchman.
Assisting the good guys are a native tribe headed by Princess Alura (Claire James) and Umala (Russ Vincent).
The script is weak and the production values, bottom of the barrel. The acting is for the most part, terrible. Hart and Brown are simply awful. Most of the story takes place outside on what looks to be Columbia's "B" western backlot. The "aeroglobe" looks like a flying garbage can and its interior is very sparsely furnished. There was no imagination (or budget probably) to develop realistic looking space suits either I'll wager.
John Hart's acting would fortunately improve to the point that he would replace Clayton Moore as TV's "The Lone Ranger" for a couple of seasons. He also appeared in a TV series with Lon Chaney based on "The Last of the Mohicans.
Charles Middleton, who as the chief villain wasn't even given billing, is best remembered as "Ming the Merciless" in Universal's "Flash Gordon" serials. The venerable Pierre Watkin (probably the best actor in this picture) had long been a staple of the "B" movie scene, playing bankers, lawyers, doctors in featured roles. It was nice to see him in a leading role for once.
The female leads deserved a better fate. Rosemary LaPlanche and Claire James hardly appear in the last few chapters and could have brightened up the proceedings a little, had they been given more to do.
John Merton and Lane Bradford were father and son.
Columbia has done better.