Mandrake the Magician (1939)
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Before getting this serial of one of my favourite characters from the comics I loved as a kid (created by Lee Falk, before he started Phantom), I read few reviews and ratings of 73% on IMDb were encouraging! What a mistake! This Columbia's serial has almost nothing to do with Falks's Mandrake the Magician, the world's foremost exponent of mind over matter! He is just a fist-slugging detective and his assistant Lothar looks like a discarded Ukrainian cleaner. The story starts on a cruise and moves to the Professor Hudson's home - he has developed a radium energy machine, which is much coveted by "The Wasp", who sends his hordes of henchmen in waves to steal the invention. This is a sad example of film making, from terrible acting of all involved: Warren Hull as Mandrake the Magician, Doris Weston as Betty Houston, Al Kikume as Lothar, Rex Downing as Tommy Houston, Edward Earle as Dr. Andre Bennett and almost idiotic character of Professor Houston played by Forbes Murray. I will love to mention the directors Norman Deming and Sam Nelson - run away from anything with their names attached if I am to judge according to what I just watched! I really wonder how could they even try to make something like this when the original Mandrake is almost a perfect character for mystery and action.
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