Vintage Pulp Mar 17 2010
KILLER SERIAL
Nights of the old Republic.

You may not have heard of The Manhunt of Mystery Island, but this is one of the few Republic serials you can probably rent or buy. The legendary Republic Pictures made sixty-six serials, consisting of short chapters ending with cliffhangers resolved at the beginning of the next chapter, usually by means of an improbable escape. Each chapter would play at a theater for one week as a sort of opening act to the A-feature, the next chapter would run for seven days, and so on until the story was completed. Watching a movie over the course of three months might not seem like the best way to attract customers to the cinema, but it actually worked quite well because some of the serial characters and actors were immensely popular. If you’ve never seen a serial, in complete form it would look a lot like Raiders of the Lost Ark, and there’s a reason for that—Steven Spielberg fell in love with serials when he was young and deliberately set about to make a modern version. The plot of The Manhunt of Mystery Island is a bit convoluted to summarize here. Let’s just say it involves a scientist, a pirate, bodyshifting, and lots of fights. Or, by way of summation, consider its alternate title: Captain Mephisto and the Transformation Machine. Sounds good, right? The version we saw was back in the late 90s on VHS, but we remember it well and highly recommend it. The Manhunt of Mystery Island premiered in the U.S. today in 1945. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
October 15
1945—Laval Executed
Pierre Laval, who was the premier of Vichy, France, which had collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, is shot by a firing squad for treason. In subsequent years it emerges that Laval may have considered himself a patriot whose goal was to publicly submit to the Germans while doing everything possible behind the scenes to thwart them. In at least one respect he may have succeeded: fifty percent of French Jews survived the war, whereas in other territories about ninety percent perished.
1966—Black Panthers Form
In the U.S., in Oakland, California, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther political party. The Panthers are active in American politics throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but eventually legal troubles combined with a schism over the direction of the party lead to its dissolution.
October 14
1962—Cuban Missile Crisis Begins
A U-2 spy plane flight over the island of Cuba produces photographs of Soviet nuclear missiles being installed. Though American missiles have been installed near Russia, the U.S. decides that no such weapons will be tolerated in Cuba. The resultant standoff brings the U.S. and the Soviet Union to the brink of war. The crisis finally ends with a secret deal in which the U.S. removes its missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviets removing the Cuban weapons.
October 13
1970—Angela Davis Arrested
After two months of evading police and federal authorities, Angela Davis is arrested in New York City by the FBI. She had been sought in connection with a kidnapping and murder because one of the guns used in the crime had been bought under her name. But after a trial a jury agreed that owning the weapon did not automatically make her complicit in the crimes.
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