Wednesday, June 8, 2011

May 1939: Movie Comics #3

Cover by Jack Adler

'East Side of Heaven' (by William Conselman and Jack Adler): This is an adaptation of a Bing Crosby movie, in which he plays a singing cab driver who gets involved in a dispute between a millionaire and his daughter, who are fighting over the daughter's baby. Bing ends up with the baby while everyone else is looking for it, and hijinks ensue. It's mildly amusing in spots, but that's the extent of it.

'Movietown' (by Harry Lampert): Actual comic! While the real Vom Hunger is convicted of a whole bunch of crimes, his impostor in Hollywood is directing a Christopher Columbus movie in which Columbus discovers Foogie Foogie Island, a land of plentiful hot dogs. The absurdity levels here are high, and that suits me.

'Mexicali Rose' (by Gerald Geraghty and Jack Adler): This is a movie starring Gene Autry the singing cowboy, playing Gene Autry the singing cowboy. He takes on a corrupt oil tycoon who is selling bad shares, with the help of a mexican bandit. Standard stuff, but as usual with this series the story is poorly told.

'Booby Hatch and the Midsummer Night's Nightmare' (by Ken Fitch): In this prose story Booby Hatch is in a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream which goes horribly wrong when he disappears looking for a lantern. This is supposed to be a comedy, but as it didn't muster a laugh from me I deem it a failure.

'Terrors of the Tomb' (by Ed Wheelan): Actual comic! The evil Professor Stark has succeeded in leaving his colleagues in the catacombs to die, and now resurrects the Pharaoh Amon. Stark is taken to a tribunal of ancient pharaohs and judged, and we never see him again. This wraps up the main plot with no involvement from the supposed heroes, who the pharaoh rescues. Weak.

'Four Feathers' (by Lajos Biro and Jack Adler): This movie is about Harry, a reluctant soldier who quits the service just before his regiment is sent to fight in Egypt. He is branded a coward by his comrades and fiancee, each of whom gives him a white feather. Harry has to perform four brave deeds so that he can return the feathers and win back his wife-to-be. I really like the premise for this one, but it's just hopelessly handicapped by the way this comic is put together. It really is impossible for a story to be effectively told with airbrushed movie stills.

'Mystery in the White Room' (by Alex Gottlieb and Jack Adler): This is a hospital murder mystery, and my legendary inability to follow mysteries is in full force here. I lost track of the characters halfway through. You'd think that the use of actual photos would make characters' faces more distinctive and memorable, but instead they're all kind of fuzzy and hard to distinguish.

'Spirit of Culver' (by Whitney Bolton and Jack Adler): Young Tomn Allen, whose father died in a war, gets his chance to go to a military academy. He begins the story with a healthy contempt for the military and a hatred for the senselessness of war. He's a guy I can get behind! But by the end he's embraced patriotism and military tradition, and I don't like him as much as I did.

'The Mikado' (by Sir Arthur Sullivan and Jack Adler): This is an adaptation of the Gilbert and Sullivan play, and quite entertaining at that. For the uneducated masses out there who don't know this story (like me), it's about a guy who runs away from an arranged marriage to an old woman and becomes a wandering minstrel. He falls in love with a younger woman who is engaged to her foster-father, and from there all sorts of entanglements ensue. I found it amusing even in this form.  I imagine I'd like it even more as a stage play with the music present.

'Navy Secrets' (by Harry Gates and Jack Adler): In which a girl and a sailor get caught up in spy shenanigans, only to reveal to each other at the end that they too are spies.  Perhaps it has something to do with me starting to fall asleep as I read this, but the basic premise of the plot didn't seem to make much sense.  The girl spy was engaged at the start of the story, and by the end she's getting married to another guy, but there's nothing in between to indicate why she'd change her mind like that.  I guess it's a victim of being compressed and truncated in this fashion.

At this point I thank every power known to man that I'm halfway through this series already.  God bless you, apathetic readers of the 1930s!

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