17 May 2006 | horn-5
Commando Cody got beat out of a TV episode.
The story/scenario for "Zombies of the Stratsophere" was originally written to be used as the fourth episode ( of the eventual twelve) of the Republic-produced "Commando Cody- Sky King of the Universe" syndicated television 1951-52 production season series. The studio unit that was doing the television series, under Associate Producer Franklin Adreon, was also doing the serials (for theatre distribution) and after the first three "Commando Cody" TV episodes were completed, then started production on "Zombies of the Stratosphere" prior to finishing the remaining nine Cody-TV episodes. On April 10, 1952, Adreon sent a memo to all Republic Pictures Corporation departments advising that certain character names in production number 133 (internal house number for the upcoming serial) have been changed as follows: Commando Cody becomes Larry Martin; Joan Gilbert becomes Sue Davis; Ted Richards becomes Bob Wilson; Mr. Henderson becomes Mr. Steele and Hank becomes Dick.
"Zombies" utilized stock footage from various Republic serials, features and one western; all of the 17 flying sequences of the airborn-wired dummy came straight from "King of the Rocket Men.", and the uranium-smuggling airplane sequence was lifted from the Roy Rogers western, "Bells of Coronado," which is why Clifton Young (as Ross)and Henry Rowland (Plane Heavy)show up in this serial. Larry Martin's space ship was recycled from "Radar Men from the Moon", while the Martians flew a new model (created for "Zombies")that featured a transparent bubble-gum turret housing a ray cannon atop the fuselage.
Republic contract-player Roy Barcroft is not seen in the serial but his voice was heard on the radio (chapters 1 and 11) and as dubs for Ross (chapter 4)and Tarner (chapter 7.) There was a fabricated "Introducing Leonard Nimoy" added to the opening cast-sheet when this film was colorized in the '90's, a bit of revisionism catering to Trekkies. Republic Pictures Corporation itself did not pass out "Introducing" credits to players listed ninth in the cast.
Filming started on April 4, 1952 and was completed on May 1, 1952. The budget (expected filming cost of the production) was $172,838 and the finished negative cost came in at $176,357, or slightly four thousand dollars over budget. These were the real numbers and, of course, do not fit the revisionist definitions of budget currently employed by some websites.