Mandrake the Magician (serial)

Mandrake the Magician (serial)
Mandrake the Magician
Directed by Norman Deming
Sam Nelson
Produced by Jack Fier
Written by Joseph F. Poland
Basil Dickey
Ned Dandy
Screenplay, based on the comic strip by
Phil Davis
Lee Falk
Starring Warren Hull
Doris Weston
Al Kikume
Rex Downing
Music by Morris Stoloff
musical director
Sidney Cutner
Floyd Morgan
additional music
Cinematography Benjamin H. Kline
Editing by Richard Fantl
Jerry Thoms
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) 7 December 1939
Running time 12 chapters (215 minutes)
Country  United States
Language English

Mandrake the Magician (1939) was the seventh serial released by Columbia Pictures.



Mandrake in this serial works with conjuring tricks and sleight of hand instead of all the all-powerful hypnotism in the comics. Lothar is portrayed as an Asian with hair instead of a giant bald African. Unlike the comics where Lothar handles the fighting, Mandrake goes from fight to fight, which is just as well as Lothar is a weak imitation of the comic character. The fights are not too convincing and the music is a little too loud in the action scenes, of which there are plenty. The villain is The Wasp, a man in a cloak, mask and hat who gives orders to his gang from a movie screen.

Thieves learn that Professor Houston has been perfecting a machine which will create radium energy and plot to steal it. Daughter Betty telegraphs Mandrake for help. He is just returning from Shanghai and Tibet on the S.S.Mohawk. A lama in Tibet has told him a formula for mixing the already tough Platinite with steel to make it even tougher. However, Platinite is very rare and only found in one place, in America.

The Wasp uses the sign of a wasp on a wall as well as a buzzing sound to announce his presence to the professor, which Mandrake later reveals was simply a torch shining through an image of a wasp to project a picture. Mandrake survives two death attempts and a car chase before meeting the professor, with friends Bennett and Webster who turn up just after him. The prof reveals that his ray is far more powerful than radium and gives a demonstration of the inevitable death-ray, which at the end of the first episode is inevitably used on Mandrake.

Mandrake has convinced The Wasp's men that he has some platinite which The Wasp needs for his ray machine as it can only run a short while with a steel casing before destroying itself. The villains keep after Mandrake and fights follows kidnappings, follows car chases (all sped up for excitement) follows death traps, follows fights. There is little real storyline and action is used to drag the serial along at a hectic pace. There is also some magic thrown in, notably a very good sleight of hand show in the first episode. You do not see the performer's face but this was not done by Hull since the white cuffs of the magician can be seen throughout whereas with Hull's costume, the cuffs were hidden.


Chapter titles

  1. Shadow on the Wall
  2. Trap of the Wasp
  3. City of Terror
  4. The Secret Passage
  5. The Devil's Playmate
  6. The Fatal Crash
  7. Gamble for Life
  8. Across the Deadline
  9. Terror Rides the Rails
  10. The Unseen Monster
  11. At the Stroke of Eight
  12. The Reward of Treachery


See also


  1. ^ Cline, William C.. "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc.. pp. 224. ISBN 078640471X. 

External links

Preceded by
Flying G-Men (1939)
Columbia Serial
Mandrake the Magician (1939)
Succeeded by
Overland with Kit Carson (1939)

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