|The Lost Planet|
Poster of chapter 5
|Directed by||Spencer Gordon Bennet|
|Produced by||Sam Katzman|
|Written by||Arthur Hoerl
George H. Plympton
|Music by||Ross DiMaggio|
|Cinematography||William P. Whitley|
|Edited by||Earl Turner|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
The Lost Planet is a 1953 Columbia Pictures 15-chapter serial which has the distinction of being the last interplanetary-themed sound serial ever made. It was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet with a screenplay by George H. Plympton and Arthur Hoerl (who also wrote for Rocky Jones, Space Ranger). It appears to have been planned as a sequel to the earlier chapterplay Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere and shares many plot-points, props and sets, as well as some of the same cast. However, the Video Rangers do not appear, and their uniforms are instead worn by "slaves" created electronically by Reckov, the dictator of the Lost Planet (Gene Roth) with the help of mad scientist Dr. Grood (Michael Fox) and enslaved "good" scientist Professor Dorn (Forrest Taylor).
Dr. Ernst Grood has succeeded in winning control over the planet Ergro as the first step in his desired conquest of the Universe. Reporter Rex Barrow, his photographer Tim Johnson, Professor Edmund Dorn and his daughter Ella are all captured by Grood, who plans to make use of the professor's knowledge. With the help of the professor's inventions, Rex is able to free Ergro of Grood's domination, while Grood is sent on an endless voyage into space.
Unlike the Captain Video serial, The Lost Planet has a female character, Professor Dorn's daughter Ella (Vivian Mason) who strides about the Lost Planet (Bronson Canyon) in a fetching female version of the Video Ranger uniform. The hero is not Captain Video, but a newspaper reporter, Rex Barrow, played by Judd Holdren (who had previously played Captain Video and Commando Cody). Books on the sound serials generally conclude that this is one of the worst serials ever made, but it still has points of interest. The bizarre performance of Michael Fox (1921-1996) as the villainous Dr. Grood is particularly memorable. This is one of Fox's first screen roles. He went on to a long and distinguished career as a character actor in dozens of feature films and hundreds of TV series right up to his final illness and death.
The Lost Planet was the last of only three science fiction serials released by Columbia.
It was originally known as The Planet Men.
Michael Fox recalled that writer George Plympton would deliberately write lines that he thought the actors couldn't say such as "The atom propulse set up a radiation wall which cut off the neutron detonator impulse!"
In the opinions of Harmon and Glut, The Lost Planet is a "rather shoddy, low budget space cliffhanger."