Thursday, October 30, 2008

Planet Outlaws

This began life originally as a 1939 Buck Rogers serial starring Buster Crabbe. It was edited into a 69 minute feature-length film in 1953 which the version I'm reviewing. Apparently there is also a 90 minute version released in 1977 to cash in on Star Wars-mania.
Buck Rogers, and sidekick Buddy, crash their dirigible(!) in the arctic and are left in suspended animation for 500 years. Revived by Dr. Huer, they discover that Earth is in the villainous grip of the outlaw Killer Kane. With the help of the lovely Lt. Deering, Buck is able to defeat Kane and the world is safe again! Until next Saturday afternoon anyway.
You can't help but love these old serials. They're action-packed with thrilling derring-do, and are now charmingly anachronistic, as when Buck marvels that his spaceship must be travelling a thousand miles per hour (gasp)! Yes, they are hopelessly old-fashioned and primitive, but they are also wonderfully fun with their art deco buildings and cities.
And it is Buster Crabbe's sincere charm that carries the film. He anchors it with an honest presence that most actors today must wish they had.
This was how the future should have been.

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