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.
February 16
1937—Carothers Patents Nylon
Wallace H. Carothers, an American chemist, inventor and the leader of organic chemistry at DuPont Corporation, receives a patent for a silk substitute fabric called nylon. Carothers was a depressive who for years carried a cyanide capsule on a watch chain in case he wanted to commit suicide, but his genius helped produce other polymers such as neoprene and polyester. He eventually did take cyanide—not in pill form, but dissolved in lemon juice—resulting in his death in late 1937.
February 15
1933—Franklin Roosevelt Survives Assassination Attempt
In Miami, Florida, Giuseppe Zangara attempts to shoot President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, but is restrained by a crowd and, in the course of firing five wild shots, hits five people, including Chicago, Illinois Mayor Anton J. Cermak, who dies of his wounds three weeks later. Zangara is quickly tried and sentenced to eighty years in jail for attempted murder, but is later convicted of murder when Cermak dies. Zangara is sentenced to death and executed in Florida's electric chair.
February 14
1929—Seven Men Shot Dead in Chicago
Seven people, six of them gangster rivals of Al Capone's South Side gang, are machine gunned to death in Chicago, Illinois, in an event that would become known as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Because two of the shooters were dressed as police officers, it was initially thought that police might have been responsible, but an investigation soon proved the killings were gang related. The slaughter exceeded anything yet seen in the United States at that time.
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