Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941, William Witney and John English), Chapter 3: Time Bomb

A couple things in Time Bomb stand out. First, there’s how no one seems to care about how the opening cliffhanger resolves. Not for Captain Marvel (Tom Tyler), but for the expedition member being held hostage. It’s not clear anyone even knows about it after its happened. So, not a good thing, a lazy thing.

Second is about how no one has any reaction to Captain Marvel yet. The thugs apparently don’t tell their boss, The Scorpion, about it and Frank Coghlan Jr. goes out of his way to make sure Louise Currie not see his alter ego. So Captain Marvel is still an unknown to the principals.

Luckily, Coghlan’s pretty much just as good. When the bad guys get the combination to a safe they shouldn’t have, it’s not Captain Marvel who goes to stop them, it’s Coghlan. Turns out he owns his own plane and can just fly to stop them.

Why he didn’t just say the magic word and fly there himself is unclear.

Time Bomb has three action sequences. The cliffhanger resolution, Tyler saving Currie–which involves him flying to catch up with a runaway truck–and the finale. The finale’s more suspense.

Again, it’s perfectly solid but doesn’t have much to it. There are no new clues to the bad guy’s identity, Currie’s sort of okay but not good, the plot doesn’t develop much either.

It’s early days for Adventures of Captain Marvel but it’d be nice if the serial could distinguish itself. Even if it’s just a little bit. Unless there’s nothing more to it than the special effects.


Directed by John English and William Witney; screenplay by Ronald Davidson, Norman S. Hall, Arch Heath, Joseph F. Poland, and Sol Shor, based on the comic book by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker; director of photography, William Nobles; edited by William P. Thompson and Edward Todd; music by Cy Feuer; released by Republic Pictures.

Starring Frank Coghlan Jr. (Billy Batson), Tom Tyler (Captain Marvel), William ‘Billy’ Benedict (Whitey Murphy), Louise Currie (Betty Wallace), Kenne Duncan (Barnett), Robert Strange (John Malcolm), Harry Worth (Prof. Luther Bentley), Bryant Washburn (Henry Carlyle), John Davidson (Tal Chotali), George Pembroke (Dr. Stephen Lang), and George Lynn (Prof. Dwight Fisher).

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