|Captain America 1944|
|Written by Joe Wood|
2011 is turning out to be the year of the Superhero revival. In January of this year we had the Green Hornet starring Seth Rogan. In May, Thor starring Chris Hemsworth thundered on to the screen. The X-Men returned to save us all in June and the Green Lantern lit the way for Captain America's come back in July. Before you pay your $15 bucks to see the new Captain America movie, sit back and watch the original 1944 serial starring Dick Purcell as Los Angeles District Attorney Grant Gardner who changes into the rock-'em-sock-'em Captain America when fighting crime.
There are some glaring differences between the 1944 Captain America serial and it's 2011 movie reboot. The 1944 Republic production went a little rogue with their adaptation, where as the 2011 rendition will be closer to the foundation of the comic book. According to Jim Harmon and Donald Glut in their book The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury: "Republic was notorious for making arbitrary changes in their adaptations. This occurred with Captain America more than most. Timely, the owner of Captain America, was unhappy with the omission of Steve Rogers (the original name of Captain America's street persona), the lack of an army setting and his use of a gun. Republic responded in writing that the sample pages provided by Timely did not indicate that Captain America was a soldier called Steve Rogers, nor that he did not carry a revolver. They also noted that the serial was well into production by this point and they could not return to the original concept without expensive retakes and dubbing. Finally they pointed out that Republic was under no contractual obligation to do any of this.
The differences between the comic book and film versions of the title character in this serial are more extreme than with other Republic comic adaptations, such as Adventures of Captain Marvel and Spy Smasher. For example:
The reason for the differences appears to be not that Republic arbitrarily "changed" the character, but that the script for the serial was originally prepared to feature an entirely different licensed lead character to begin with who it was later decided would be replaced by another. So it appears it was actually this original character, not Captain America, who was the one that was "changed" by Republic into someone else."
This series which was filmed in the fall of 1943, was budgeted at $183,000. However, the final cost ended up nearly 22% over budget making Captain America the most expensive of all the Republic serials.
Sadly, a few weeks after filming was completed and at the height of his career, Dick Purcell died of a massive heart attack after playing 18 holes of golf. He was only 36 years old. Purcell's movie career featured him in 45 films which span from 1936 to 1944. You can find most most of them today via NetFlix or budget video stores.
CAPTAIN AMERICA VS THE SCARAB
In this story line there is a rash of suspicious suicides among scientists and businessmen, all found holding a small scarab. This gets the attention of Mayor Randolph. Randolph demands that Police Commissioner Dryden and District Attorney Grant Gardner get to the bottom of the case, while openly wishing that Captain America, a masked man who has helped defeat crime in the past, were around to solve the mystery.
All of the suicides were members of an expedition to some Mayan ruins. One of the few remaining survivors, Professor Lyman, turns to his friend Dr. Maldor for support. Dr. Maldor, however, reveals that he is the man responsible for the deaths. He wants revenge because he planned and organised the expedition but everyone else claimed the fame and fortune. However, Lyman has developed the "Dynamic Vibrator"—a device intended for mining operations but one that can be amplified into a devastating weapon. Using his "Purple Death", a hypnotic chemical responsible for the suicides, Dr. Maldor forces Lyman to disclose the location of his plans.
Captain America intervenes as the Scarab's heavies attempt to steal the plans and this leads to a sequence of plots by the Scarab to acquire a working version, as well as other devices, while trying to eliminate the interfering Captain before he succeeds in discovering Dr. Maldor's true identity or defeats him.
Click the links below to watch each chapter in MP4 format: