Today we pay ‘tribute’ to Radar Men from the Moon, a twelve chapter long serial from 1952. This Republic Pictures exercise in silliness was the first Commando Cody serial. George Wallace played Cody, the director was Fred C. Brannon and the screenplay was written by Ronald Davidson. Brannon and Davidson’s filmographies mainly exist out of serials.
In an effort to keep the budget low, a lot of scenes are lifted from another series, King of the Rocket Men (1949) – where the suit belonged to Rocket Man. In fact, the budget was so low Wallace had to do his own stunts and during one of the fight scenes he broke his nose.
Commando Cody, a civilian researcher, has a rocket-powered flying suit and a rocket ship. He’ll need them as the U.S. are under attack. Someone is wiping out military bases and industrial complexes. Cody finds out the culprit is Retik, the evil dictator of the Moon. Retik wants to conquer Earth and Cody will try his best to keep that from happening.
It’s hard to take Radar Men from the Moon serious, from the campy suits to the special effects (Cody’s clearly lifting off thanks to a trampoline).
The twelve chapters are each just over 13 minutes long, with the exception of the first chapter (which lasted 20 minutes). In 1966 Republic Pictures recut the serial to a movie (100 min), entitled Retik the Moon Menace.
You can watch the episodes on YouTube (here’s the link to chapter 1), but for now we’ll leave you with the serial’s trailer.