- The Purple Monster Strikes
The Purple Monster Strikes Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet
Fred C. Brannon
Produced by Ronald Davidson Written by Royal Cole
Starring Dennis Moore
Cinematography Bud Thackery Distributed by Republic Pictures Release date(s) 6 October 1945 (serial)
25 March 1957 (re-release)
Running time 15 chapters (209 minutes (serial)
100 minutes (TV)
Country United States Language English Budget $160,057 (negative cost: $183,803)
Late one night while astronomer Dr Cyrus Layton works on his new airplane design in his observatory, he gets three surprises. The first is seeing what he thinks is a meteor landing in the far distance. He contacts his niece Sheila Layton, advising her to bring Craig Foster to the observatory to help analyze his discovery. The second surprise, he goes to take a look at the meteor and discovers that it is actually a spaceship with a still living pilot inside. The pilot emerges from the spaceship and explains to Layton that he is from the planet Mars.
Mistakenly thinking the alien to be friendly, Layton takes him back to the observatory. There Layton gets his third and final surprise. The Martian, who calls himself "The Purple Monster", wishes to see the designs for the airplane/spaceship that Layton was working on. The astronomer/engineer proudly shows the alien the designs. It is then that the alien explains that he is really here to steal the designs, build one of the spaceships for himself, fly back to Mars, have his people build a fleet of these spaceships and invade the Earth. When Dr. Layton objects to this plan, The Martian kills him with a Martian weapon that emits a "carbo-oxide" gas which kills humans instantly. The alien then transforms into a ghost and takes over Dr Layton's body. This enables him to fool the astronomer's niece Sheila and criminologist Craig Foster, both of whom work for the same scientific foundation as Dr Layton. The foundation is also responsible for commissioning the spaceship project in the first place.
Posing as Dr. Layton also enables the Martian to witness the unrelated attempt of an Earth gangster named Garrett to also try to steal Layton's spaceship design. The Martian convinces Garrett and his henchmen to aid in the invasion plot. With the criminals' aid the alien begins building the spaceship. However, in spite of the Martian's best efforts at pretending to be Dr Layton, Craig Foster and Sheila Layton begin to get wise to what is happening. A long series of action scenes ensue as the pair try to figure out what the alien is doing on Earth and put a stop to it. Craig and Sheila are constantly battling the Purple Monster's henchmen led by Garrett who use mind-controlling poisons, carjackings, gunplay, a vacant apartment that remotely turns into an execution chamber and other tactics to dispose of Craig and Sheila.
The closest the criminals come to succeeding is in Chapter 7 "The Evil Eye" when Sheila is lured into a trap at a house the gang is using as a hideout. Foster gets the information out of a captured gang member and speeds to the house to save Sheila, who has been tied up and gagged inside a room filled with explosives sent to detonate when an electric eye in the doorway is tripped. There is a continuity error here. Foster arrives, and is clearly seen step into the electric eye, which triggers the 5-second timer and the building blows up. In the next episode, we're shown that Shelia manages to de-gag herself and alert the Hero just before he steps into the electric eye, and he then jumps over it. A moment later, once safely out of the building, he turns and shoots a henchman back in the building, and he falls into the electric eye and sets off the bomb. Cop out, indeed. Foster just barely manages to get Sheila out before the house explodes in a huge fireball. In time the alien even calls the Emperor of Mars for aid and a female Martian, named Marcia, is sent earthward. In the long run she is not much help.
In the last chapter Craig and Sheila realize that the Purple Monster is using Professor Layton's body as a disguise to his real identity, and devise a plan to uncover the truth. While Sheila gets the supposed Doctor Layton to come downtown to sign some papers needed for funding, Craig slips into Layton's office and secretly installs a silent movie camera which will be remotely activated when the telephone is picked up. Foster then escapes before the Purple Monster returns, and calls him to advise him that he will be bringing a squad of men to search the observatory which he has discovered is being used as the Purple Monster's hideout. Craig and Sheila arrive to find the observatory deserted. Sheila goes to the document basement where she stumbles upon Purple Monster's subterranean lair and is kidnapped. Foster goes to check on Sheila and finds the basement empty, and then himself discovers the secret lair where Sheila has been bound and gagged by the Purple Monster who orders his henchmen to dispose of her and destroy the observatory once he escapes.
The story ends with Craig Foster using a separated component of the spaceship, a sonic pulse cannon device to destroy meteors, to destroy the alien spaceship with the Purple Monster inside as he attempts to escape back to Mars and lead the invasion fleet to Earth. This ends the Martian threat.
- Dennis Moore as Craig Foster. The hero was known as Carry Foster even as far into production as the final shooting script. The name was pencilled out for filming.
- Linda Stirling as Sheila Layton
- Roy Barcroft as The Purple Monster. The villain was originally called "The Purple Shadow", which was also pencilled out for filming.
- James Craven as Dr Cyrus Layton
- Bud Geary as Hodge Garrett, Henchman
- Mary Moore as Marcia
- John Davidson as Emperor of Mars
- Joe Whitehead as Carl Stewart
- Anthony Warde as Tony
The Purple Monster Strikes was budgeted at $160,057 although the final negative cost was $183,803 (a $23,746, or 14.8%, overspend). It was the most expensive Republic serial of 1945. It was filmed between 17 April and 19 May 1945 under the working title The Purple Shadow Strikes. The serial's production number was 416. This was the first post-war science fiction serial.
Roy Barcroft lived close (about a mile) to Republic Studios and jogged to work to keep fit for this job. When told that the costume included tights he decided to lose weight and lost about 30lb in 30 days. He called the serial "The Jerk in Tights from Boyle Heights".
The Purple Monster costume was re-used in Flying Disc Man from Mars (for Mota), Radar Men from the Moon (for Retik) and Commando Cody (the agent played by Stanley Waxman). Stock footage from The Purple Monster Strikes was also re-used in these serials. The rocket crash footage was re-used for Flying Disc Man from Mars.
This was the last Republic serial with 15-chapters. The remaining serials were either 12- or 13-chapters in length.
The special effects were created by the Lydecker brothers. A problem occurred with the effects sequence of the rocketship crash in the first chapter. In the first attempt, the rocket struck an underground water pipe causing a geyser and forcing a retake.
The name of the aircraft that is intended to travel to Mars is always called the "jet plane". This startles technically minded people because a jet aircraft cannot do that. However, jets were new at the time the series was made and Universal Studios' serial Flash Gordon had the copyright on the word "rocketship" for use in serials and their featurizations.
- Dale Van Sickel as Craig Foster (doubling Dennis Moore)
- Babe DeFreest as Sheila Layton (doubling Linda Stirling)
- Fred Graham as The Purple Monster (doubling Roy Barcroft)
- Tom Steele as Hodge Garrett (doubling Bud Geary)
- Polly Burson as Marcia (doubling Mary Moore)
- John Daheim
- Bud Geary
- Carey Loftin
- Cliff Lyons
- Henry Wills
The Purple Monster Strikes' official release date is 6 October 1945, although this is actually the date the seventh chapter was made available to film exchanges.
The serial was re-released on 25 March 1957 between the similar re-releases of Dangers of the Canadian Mounted and Zorro's Black Whip. The last original Republic serial release was King of the Carnival in 1955.
The Purple Monster Strikes was one of twenty-six Republic serials re-released as a film on television in 1966. The title of the film was changed to D-Day on Mars. This version was cut down to 100-minutes in length.
- The Man in the Meteor (22min 20s)
- The Time Trap (13min 20s)
- Flaming Avalanche (13min 20s)
- The Lethal Pit (13min 20s)
- Death on the Beam (13min 20s)
- The Demon Killer (13min 20s)
- The Evil Eye (13min 20s)
- Descending Doom (13min 20s)
- The Living Dead (13min 20s)
- House of Horror (13min 20s) - a re-cap chapter
- Menace from Mars (13min 20s)
- Perilous Plunge (13min 20s)
- Fiery Shroud (13min 20s)
- The Fatal Trial (13min 20s)
- Take-off to Destruction (13min 20s)
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Mathis, Jack. Valley of the Cliffhangers Supplement. Jack Mathis Advertising. pp. 3, 10, 86–87. ISBN 0-9632878-1-8.
- ^ Harmon, Jim; Glut, Donald F. (1973). Great Movie Serials. Routledge. pp. 54–55. ISBN 071300097X.
- ^ a b c d e Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut. "2. "We Come from 'Earth', Don't You Understand?"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. pp. 52–56. ISBN 9780713000979.
- ^ a b Cline, William C.. "3. The Six Faces of Adventure". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc.. p. 33. ISBN 078640471X.
- ^ Cline, William C.. "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc.. p. 241. ISBN 078640471X.
- Republic Pictures Home video vhs tape, The Purple Monster Strikes
- Science Fiction The Illustrated Encyclopedia by John Clute DK Publications copyright 1995 pg 259
- The Encyclopedia of Super Villains by Jeff Rovin Facts on file copyright 1987 pg 282
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