Daredevil stunt pilot Smilin’ Jack Martin takes on the air war in China during the darkest days of WWII.
Adventures of Smilin’ Jack
Ep. 01: The High Road to Doom
In the opener of the 13-chapter Universal serial, Smilin’ Jack, an American aviator in the service of China, and Janet learn from Ran Lal that Janet’s brother, Tommy, has found a secret passage to India in the faraway province of Mandon. Only two other men know the secret according to the Hindi, who unfortunately is shot by a Japanese spy before he can divulge their names. Captured by Jack and his Chinese friend, Captain Wing, the murderous Japanese commits hara-kiri, but not before Jack learns that he is a member of the Black Samurai, the feared Axis spy ring headed by Fraulein Von Teufel, who, unbeknownst to Jack, is masquerading as an American newspaper woman. Granted permission by General Kai Ling to fly to Mandon in search of Tommy, Jack and Janet are surprised by yet another Japanese spy, who torches their plane somewhere near their destination. Janet successfully bails out but Jack’s parachute refuses to open and he plunges toward earth.
Set just before the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Jack Martin helps the Chinese obtain the Mandon Secret, a secret route from China to India, lying in an isolated Chinese sector, which would aid the Chinese in the war effort or cause disaster if fallen into the hands of the Black Samurai, a Japanese espionage organization in partnership with the Nazis, and its leader the elusive Fraulein Von Teufel, who assumes the guise of Trudy, a press correspondent and friend of Jack. For thirteen chapters, Jack goes in and out of danger in order to assist the allied war effort. The serial’s main drawback is that it didn’t follow the comic strip (with a Jack Holt looking Jack, a Peter Lorre-ish villain called The Head, and aerial escapades) and its characters, which suggests that the character was tied in to the serial, just so it could be used. Its a good serial, but could have been better.
Cast and Crew:
* Tom Brown/’Smilin’ Jack’ Martin
* Rose Hobart/Gertrude Muller
* Edgar Barrier/Tommy Thompson
Director: Lewis D. Collins, Ray Taylor
Producer: Ford Beebe
Production Company: Universal Pictures
Audio/Visual: sound, black & white
Date Release: 1943
Additional details in: IMDB
Video streaming: courtesy of www.finemoviesonline.com
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Filed Under: Adventures of Smilin Jack