Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Howard and Theodore Lydecker: Special Effects During the Rise and Fall of Republic Pictures

When one thinks of 1930's and 1940's Special and Visual Effects, the name of Willis H. O'Brien comes to mind. When thinking of 1950's Visual Effects, the name of Ray Harryhausen also comes to mind. However, O'Brien and Harryhausen's names overshadow the work of the brothers Theodore and Howard Lydecker at "Republic Pictures".

By removing the theatrical and television shorter re-released versions of their original Cliff-Hanger/Serial work, released under a different title, but still appearing on every list of their work as a new credit ---

For example, 1936's, "Undersea Kingdom", had a running time of 226-minutes, but 1966's, "Sharad of Atlantis", made from that Cliff-Hanger/Serial had a condensed running time of only 100-minutes. The difference in the two running times is 126-minutes, which is far greater than just the removal of the recapping of the previous chapter's events in eleven of the twelve chapters of the "Undersea Kingdom".

--- would indicate that Theodore and Howard Lydecker had worked on approximately 355 original motion picture titles in Special Effects, including films with studios other than "Republic Pictures" starting in 1958. 

Additionally, Howard worked on the Visual Effects for two of producer Irwin Allen's television series, 29-episodes of "Lost in Space", and 26-episodes of "Voyage to the Bottom of Sea", made from 1965 through 1966.



Howard Crosley Lydecker
was born on May 21, 1883, in New Jersey.

I could not find any background information of the brother's father prior to August 1904. but whatever he was doing prior to that month and year changed with silent motion pictures. 

Howard Crosley Lydecker, Senior's, first documented motion picture work was creating the special effects for the Western short, "The Great Train Robbery", filmed in New York, and released in August, 1904.

I met a little biographical confusion with Howard C. Lydecker, Sr., although he married Jessie Lorina Dawson, the year of their marriage may be in dispute. It is listed on the few sites I could research as 1910, no month and date given. However, what is confirmed for sure, is that on November 7, 1908, Theodore Lydecker, was born in Englewood, New Jersey.

Senior's next short film starred Mary Pickford, and was "Little Nell's Tobacco", released on December 22, 1910. It was filmed by "Independent Moving Pictures", in New Jersey, owned by Carl Laemmle, Sr., who five-years later founded "Universal Pictures". That short was followed on January 9, 1911, with the special effects on another Mary Pickford short film, "Their First Misunderstanding". 

While the family was vacationing in Havana, Cuba, Howard Crosley Lydecker, Junior, was born on June 8, 1911.

Lydecker, Senior's last back-east motion picture was with future silent screen cowboy star, William S. Hart's, "The Apostle of Vengeance", released on June 25, 1916. Next stop for the Howard Crosley Lydecker family was Hollywood, California.

There are myth's about "Hollywood", the studios, the movie palaces and the stars. I already mentioned the creation year of "Universal Pictures" and this article will mention other studios shortly. My reader might want to know what the world that the Lydecker family had just entered was like. My article is, "HOLLYWOOD: Segregated Housing, Motion Picture Studios and Movie Palaces", to be explored at:


From the above article:

In 1919 Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplain, D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks formed their own production company and became the owners of the property Goldwyn was renting space fromFrom 1919 until 1928 the property was called the "Pickford-Fairbamks Studio".

Howard Crosley Lydecker's next special effects assignment, and the reason the family crossed the country, was for actress Mary Pickford's husband Douglas Fairbanks, Senior's, 1919, "The Knickerbocker Buckaroo". After which, Lydecker did the special effects for Fairbanks's following six motion pictures, 1920's, "The Mark of Zorro", 1921's, "The Three Musketeers", 1922's, "Robin Hood", 1924's, "The Thief of Bagdad", 1927's, "The Caucho", and Senior's final motion picture work, was on 1929's, "The Iron Mask"

On July 10, 1935, shortly after his apprentice sons would take over the family business, Howard Crosley Lydecker, Sr. passed away at the age of 52. Leaving a recognized and remarkable group of Special Effects work.


Forget the idea of "Computer Generated Graphics and Special Effects (CGI)", they didn't exist in the world of Theodore and Howard Lydecker. Theirs's was a world of paint it on glass to be placed in front of a camera to shoot action, or paint it as a matte shot. Build miniature models, the brothers were famous for that, and blow them up in a perspective shot. Build a model in its true size and still blow it up. In both instances, filming the sequence in slow-motion and perhaps match a model shot with a live action shot to create one shot.

The following is a small look at the motion pictures that contained the Special Effects work of Howard and Theodore Lydecker. Obviously, I am not going into all their work, but selected examples divided into genres, Science Fiction, Horror, Westerns, Adventures, War and Drama. 

In some examples I cannot show stills from their actual work to my reader, but the motion picture itself is worth mentioning as a reflection of what "Republic Pictures" was filming during its rise and fall. At the end of this article is a seven-minute-and-thirty-second video of the work of Theodore and Howard Lydecker. 

According to the article, "The Amazing Lydecker Brothers", by Chris Enss, August 22, 2018, the brothers started out working at "Columbia Pictures" and the "Fox Corporation", which would merge with "Twentieth Century Pictures" in 1935. Enss doesn't say what the brother's specifically did, or what motion pictures they worked on and for how long. 


However, after those two studios, sometime in 1935, Theodore and Howard Lydecker started working at "Mascot Studios". Which from my research, all the listings of their work I could determine, either individually, or together began with. 

The Creation of Their Home Studio:

From my above article:

In 1935 Herbert J. Yates, the head of "Consolidate Productions", approached the owners of "Monogram" over a merger. 

"Consolidated" was a film laboratory and processing company that began in New York in 1924. In 1927 the company merged several smaller Delaware companies into a larger organization. Now Yates wanted to do the same thing with small movie studios.

A little further in my article:

Then there was another independent studio Herbert J. Yates wanted to merge into his new company. The studio had beaten out Laemme's "Universal Pictures" with the first all sound Chapter Serial, but was also known for "B" Westerns. Founded in 1929 by Nat Levine, a former secretary of Marcus Loew, and located on Santa Monica Boulevard was "Mascot Studios".

A little further in this section on my article:

Yates additionally added four long forgotten independents to his new company, the first was

"Liberty Pictures". Which always got confused with "Liberty Films", a studio that director Frank Capra made two films.
"Chesterfield Pictures", "Majestic Pictures" and "Invincible Pictures", are the other three studios that Yates took control and the result was what Herbert J. Yates called "Republic Pictures".


On February 23, 1935, "Mascot Pictures" released a Cliff-Hanger/ Serial with a singing cowboy meeting the survivors of the "Lost Continent of Mu", entitled:

THE PHANTOM EMPIRE chapter one released on February 23, 1935

The plot is simple, Gene Autry has a daily radio program from his working, "Melody Ranch". He uses the ranch as a temporary escape for depression era city kids. However, Gene also has a mortgage and he must, according to his agreement with the bank, be on the air at 2 PM daily, or lose "Melody Ranch".

Meanwhile, there are the "Thunder Riders" who come out of a hidden cave entrance to plunder the area and then return into it. The hidden cave is the entrance to the futuristic city of the survivors of "The Lost Continent of Mu" and their Queen, who wants to rule the upper world. These survivors are located directly under Gene Autry's ranch causing him major problems. Oh yes, I forgot, there is also an abandoned mine on "Melody Ranch" that an evil scientist wants, because it contains deposits of radium that could pay off the mortgage and more, got it?

Howard Lydecker was assigned to 1935's, "The Phantom Empire". While, in the same year, Theodore Lydecker was assigned to the Western Cliff-Hanger, "The Miracle Rider", starring Tom Mix, and Charles Middleton. Middleton was one-year away from portraying "Ming the Merciless", in 1936's, "Flash Gordon". Both brothers were shown as working under the same Special Effects Department Head, Jack Coyle.

However, according to Chris Enns, the Special Effects Department Head's name was John Coyle. This discrepancy might easily be explained, or not, because a commonly used nick-name for "John" is "Jack". See the next title I mention, "Undersea Kingdom"

Also listed under special effects was Bud Thackery, who was filming the effects, and would become a full-time Cinematographer starting with the 1941 comedy, "The Gay Vagabond". 

The Three Leading Actors:

Gene Autry portrayed "Gene Autry". Gene had appeared before as only as a singer, in both of "B" Cowboy, Ken Maynard's, 1934, "In Old Santa Fe", and "Mystery Mountain". 

Gene would remain "Republic Pictures" number one singing cowboy until a new guy came along and a publicity battle in "Republic's" favor began. The studio would change the new guy's name, from Leonard Slye, to Roy Rodgers. Both Cowboy-Singers are part of my article, "John Wayne Was a Singing Cowboy: Singing Cowboys and Cowgirls in the Movies and on 1950's Television", found at:


Above, Gene Autry is in the foreground and actress Dorothy Christy, portraying "Queen Tika" of the "Mu Empire", is in the background. Behind both of them are the intricate equipment made by Jack Cole and Howard Lydecker that give off some of their special effects. 

Frankie Darro portrayed "Frankie Baxter". Darro started acting in 1924, among his 226 films and television appearances were director William A. Wellman's, 1931, "Public Enemy", starring James Cagney, and Jean Harlow, and Wellman's indictment of teenage runaways during the Great Depression, 1933's, "Wild Boys of the Road". Probably Frankie Darro's best known role is without the direct knowledge of most fans of 1950's Science Fiction, portraying "Robby the Robot", in 1956's, "Forbidden Planet".

Betsy King Ross portrayed "Betsy Baxter". Ross was a teenage Rodeo riding champion at the time and would become a major anthropologist later in her life.

Above, Betsy King Ross and Frankie Darro.

Below are examples of the special effects from Cole and Lydecker.

Above, a 1935 television monitor, below, "Queen Tika" and behind her the electrical panel that controls Mu.

Below, two perspective shots of the Mu city. Creating perspective models of various sizes would become one of the trademarks of Howard and Theodore Lydecker.

THE UNDERSEA KINGDOM chapter one released on May 30, 1936

If the now defunct "Mascot Studio" could take audiences to "The Lost Continent of Mu"? Then newly created "Republic Pictures", could take the same audience to "The Lost Continent of Atlantis".

The Cliff-Hanger/Serial starred ex-physical fitness instructor, Ray Corrigan, given the nickname of "Crash", portraying "Crash Corrigan". Corrigan's first four motion pictures had him portraying gorilla's in an ape suit, a role he would return to at different times in his career. His first two gorilla's are in the first two "Tarzan" motion pictures starring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan. In 1936, he was the gorilla-like, "Orangopoid" in Buster Crabbe's, "Flash Gordon". Also in 1936, Corrigan would be the first actor to portray "Tucson Smith", in "The Three Musketeers", Western series. A series that over the years would include John Wayne, Bob Steele, and Duncan Renaldo. My article, "An Overview of 'THE THREE MESQUITEERS": A Classic 'B' Western Series", will allow my reader to ride their range at:


For fans of 1950's Science Fiction, Ray "Crash" Corrigan had the title role in 1958's, "It, the Terror from Beyond Space". 

Look for Lon Chaney, Jr., his fifth appearance using that name, portraying "Hakur". Lon, Jr., had just played a good-guy role in Gene Autry's, 1936,"The Singing Cowboy". Alongside actress Lois Wilde, who also portrayed the heroine of this Cliff-Hanger/Serial, "Diana Compton".

The evil tyrant "Unga Khan", portrayed by Monte Blue, wants to conquer Atlantis and then the upper world. A series of earthquakes are occurring and inventor "Professor Norton", portrayed by C. Montague Shaw, has an invention that can detect earthquakes at short range and prevent them. 

"Crash Corrigan", "Professor Norton", "Diana Compton", and stow-away young "Billy Norton", portrayed by Lee Van Atta, take the professor's Rocket Submarine to Atlantis to stop "Unga Khan".

IMDb indicates that both Theodore and Howard Lydecker were working under a listed John T. Coyle, as Special Effects Department Head on the "Undersea Kingdom", along with photographer Bud Thackery. There's a little more confusion from IMDb about this version of the name of the special effects department head. 

IMDb only shows John T. Coyle working on seven-motion pictures between 1935 and 1937 in Special Effects, plus credit for two more of the condensed Cliff-Hanger/Serial title's for a work total of just 9-films. However, neither 1935's, "The Phantom Empire", or "The Miracle Rider" are listed, but 1935's, "One Frightened Night", with Howard Lydecker is on this Coyle's list of special effects work. 

It is more than possible that those creating film listings by profession or trade have become confused by another Coyle. He is Jack, not John, Coyle the Second and is still working, at the time of writing this article, in special effects and other film departments. The second Jack Coyle's special effects work includes 2012's, "Ted". Which has been added on some listings for the first Jack Coyle with other movies Jack/John worked upon in the 1930's. 

Below are some of the Special Effects created by Theodore and Howard Lydecker:

The set above are partly models created by the Lydecker brothers and superimposed over the normal size sets. Below, one of the aircraft for Atlantis flying in the sky and landing on the Lydecker's tower landing pad.

Somehow, the robot known as "The Republic Robot" and actually created by Howard and Theodore Lydecker for this Cliff-Hanger/Serial in mass, is considered to have been made for and first seen in the 1940 Cliff-Hanger/Serial "The Mysterious Dr. Satan", also with special effects by the brothers. 

According to British author, Phil Hardy, in "Volume Two, Science Fiction", of his "The Aurum Film Encyclopedia" published in 1984. 
The Mysterious Doctor Satan serial introduces the updated "Republic robot", "charming, rather than frightening". 

Hardy adds that: 

A more primitive design had appeared in "Undersea Kingdom".

Above, two of the original "Republic Pictures Robots", with Lon Chaney, Jr. in 1936's, "The Undersea Kingdom", and below, the modified robot with the wires coming from the head removed and the head curved, in "The Mysterious Dr. Satan", 1940. 

Below, the "Republic Robots" attack in 1936's "The Undersea Kingdom"

Both, "The Phantom Empire", and "Undersea Kingdom" in detail, are part of my article, "ATLANTIS, LEMURIA AND MU: The Lost Continents in Science Fiction Movies", to be explored at:


In 1938, Jack (John) Coyle left "Republic Pictures" and the Special Effects Department was now headed by the brother's Lydecker.

Above, Theodore Lydecker, and below, Howard Lydecker.

How do you make a super-hero fly? Why you call-up the Lydecker Brothers.

On July 15, 1948, "Columbia Pictures" released the first chapter of their "Superman", live-action Cliff-Hanger/Serial. To make actor Kirk Alyn fly, he jumped upwards and producer Sam Katzman turned "Superman's flight" over to the Max Fleischer studio to animate.

They obviously didn't learn anything from seven-years earlier and "Republic Pictures".

ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL chapter one released on March 28, 1941

The Twelve-Chapter Cliff-Hanger/Serial was based upon the Fawcett Comic's original 1939 character. Marvel Comics did not get the rights to the character until 1967. For those of my readers interested in that story, my article, "BEFORE 'CAROL DANVERS' WAS CAPTAIN MARVEL...THERE WAS CAPTAIN MARVEL: The Evolution of the Character 1939 to 2019", at:


Tom Tyler portrayed "Captain Marvel". "B" Cowboy star Tyler had made his first Western in 1924. My reader may have seen Tyler as "Luke Plummer" in director John Ford's, 1939, "Stagecoach", as the original mummy named "Kharis", in 1940's, "The Mummy's Hand", or as the fourth-actor to portray the character of "Stoney Brooke", in the Western series "Three Mesquiteers", opposite Bob Steele, and pre-"Mouseketeer", Jimmy Dodd. My article, "Tom Tyler: The 'B' Cowboy Star Who Became a Mummy, Captain Marvel and a Classic John Wayne Bad Guy", can be read at:


Frank Coghlan, Jr. portrayed "Captain Marvel's ultra-ego, Billy Batson". Frank Coghlan, Jr. started on-screen in 1920, billed as "Junior Goghlan". Like Tom Tyler, in 1939, he appeared in an uncredited role as a soldier in "Gone with the Wind". However, in 1943, Frank Coghlan, Jr. became a United States Navy aviator and spent the next 23-years of his life in that role. In his 1993 autobiography, "They Still Call Me Junior", Naval Lieutenant Commander Coghlan speaks to his role as technical advisor on both 1954's, "The Caine Mutiny" and "The Bridges at Toko-Ri", 1955's, "Mister Roberts", 1963's, "PT-109", and 1965's, "In Harm's Way".

According to writers Jim Harmon and Donald F. Glut, in there 1973, "The Superheroes: Could Superman Knock Out Captain Marvel?":
Republic's flying effects, under the direction of Howard and Theodor Lydecker, were performed using a dummy that was slightly larger than life (at 7 feet tall) and made of paper mâché so that it weighed only 15 lbs. The uniform was made of thin silk and cotton jersey. Four pulleys were connected to each shoulder and leg calf, which were then strung on two wires so the dummy moved along them by its own weight. The wires were attached to two opposite objects running across the camera's field of view, and the dummy then slid from one to the other, giving the illusion of flight. This system was originally intended for use in their Superman serial; a prototype dummy was even built but later discarded. The flying pose used for the dummy (arms outstretched and back arched) was based upon a Captain Marvel drawing by comics artist Mac Raboy. If the dummy needed to be seen flying upwards, the cape was convincingly weighted and the dummy was then slid backwards. The film sequence was then optically printed in reverse, completing the flying illusion.

"Republic Pictures" originally planned to make a "Superman" Cliff-Hanger/Serial and attempted to get a licensing from "National Periodical Publications (That later became "DC Comics"), but "Paramount Pictures" had the character tied-up for Max Fleischer's animation studio.

Below, the dummy and Tom Tyler on the blue-screen.

Below, that is not a real person being held-up by Tom Tyler, but a detailed Lydecker Brother dummy, see the attached trailer for the actual scene as created by Theodore and Howard Lydecker.

Will "Billy Batson" be able to say the magic words given to him, "SHAZAM", become "Captain Marvel" and discover which of the archeologists of the original expedition is the "Evil Scorpion"? Before he kills the others including "Billy"?

The following link is to one of the original trailers to the "Adventures of Captain Marvel" and gives my reader a peak at the special effects the Lydecker brothers created.

In 1949, Theodore and Howard Lydecker perfected their flying dummy and created the first of what would be a classic action character "The Rocket Man", although with three different personas.

KING OF THE ROCKET MEN chapter one released on June 8, 1949

The title of this Cliff-Hanger/Serial was a play on the name of the main character.

Tristram Coffin, his actual name, portrayed "Jeffrey King". Coffin started on-screen in 1939, and appeared in minor uncredited roles in various genres. He was "Emissary Zobar" in 1939's, "Dick Tracy's G-Men", "Lt. James" in the Tex Ritter, 1940, "Arizona Frontier", "Well's--the governor's secretary" in 1940's, "The Mysterious Dr. Satan", and "Dr. Foster", billed as "Tris Coffin", in Bela Lugosi's, 1942, "The Corpse Vanishes". 

Just before this Cliff-Hanger/Serial that he would always be associated with, Tristram Coffin had an uncredited role as "Ed Parker" in 1949's, "Flamingo Road", starring Joan Crawford and Zachary Scott. In 1955, Coffin portrayed "District Attorney MacGraw" in the cult Science Fiction, the "Creature with the Atom Brain", starring Richard Denning.

Mae Clarke portrayed "Glenda Thomas". Mae Clarke started on-screen acting in 1929, fans of classic horror movies know her as "Elizabeth" in director James Whale's, 1931, "Frankenstein". She previously had appeared in Whale's overlooked and excellent, 1931, "Waterloo Bridge". 

Can scientist/detective "Jeff King" and magazine reporter "Glenda Thomas" find out which member of "Science Associates" is the evil scientific genius calling himself "Dr. Vulcan" Before he kills all the other members including "King", himself? "

Above, "Jeff King" first gets the atomic-powered rocket suit from his friend, scientist "Dr. Millard", portrayed by James Craven. The Lydecker brothers created two helmets for the series. One was light weight to wear on stunt scenes by one of three sunt men, the primary was David Sharpe, who also portrayed "Dr. Vulcan's" henchman "Blears", throughout all 12 chapters. He was backed-up by Tom Steele, who played "Vulcan's" henchman, "Knox", in Chapters 1, 3,4, and 7. The third stuntman was Dale Van Sickel, who also appeared as a henchman named "Martin" in chapter 1.

Returning to Jim Harmon and Donald F. Glut, in there 1973, "The Superheroes: Could Superman Knock Out Captain Marvel?":
Several shots in the serial feature the Rocket Man character flying across broad vistas of barren landscape, an effect achieved by Howard and Theodore Lydecker running a full-sized dummy on internal pulleys along a very long, taut wire tilted at a downward angle to the horizontal. The same strategy had produced remarkable flying sequences in the earlier Republic serial Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941). Dave Sharpe's take-offs were accomplished with concealed springboards, and his landings by simply jumping down from some raised position into the film frame.

Note, the machines and other props designed by Theodore and Howard Lydecker, below, to use in special effects sequences in "Dr. Millard's" base of operations. They were more interesting than the villain of the story.

Below, another special effects sequence.

On January 9, 1952, the rocket suit first returned being used by a new character:

George Wallace was the first of two-actors to portray the character of "Commando Cody". Wallace was a "B" character actor and besides this role, his fame comes from portraying the "Bosun", in the 1956 cult Science Fiction classic, "Forbidden Planet".

Aline Towne
portrayed "Joan Gilbert". Towne is the most interesting of 1950's Science Fiction heroines, if her name is unfamiliar to many of my readers. She would recreate this role in the fourth rocket man Cliff-Hanger/Serial and appear in a different role in the third which is actually the same character under a different name. She co-starred with future televisions "Captain Midnight", Richard Webb, in 1950's, "The Invisible Monster" and was in the cast of producer Ivan Tors', 1954, 3-D, "GOG", in an uncredited role. 

Roy Barcroft portrayed "Retik the Ruler of the Moon". Known for portraying "B" Cowboy villains, Barcroft portrayed the title character of "Republic Pictures", 1945's, "The Purple Monster Strikes", with special effects by Theodore and Howard Lydecker. However, many of my generation know Roy Barcroft for portraying "Colonel Jim Logan", owner of the "Triple R Boy's Ranch", in "The Spin and Marty" mini-series on Walt Disney's television program, "The Mickey Mouse Club".

Clayton Moore portrayed henchman, "Graber". He started on-screen in 1937 with an uncredited role in a Buster Crabbe "B" Western. Moore would appear as a henchman, or hero in other "Republic Pictures" Cliff-Hanger/Serials. Right before this role, Clayton Moore was in the Charles Starrett and Smiley Burnett "B" Western, 1951's, "Cyclone Fury". Back on September 15, 1949, in one of the first television Westerns filmed in color, Clayton Moore first uttered the line, "Hi-Yo-Silver", as televisions "The Lone Ranger", and except for a short contract dispute, remain in the role through June 6, 1957.

Above left, Clayton Moore with Peter Brocco portraying "Krog". Take note of the Lydecker "Radar Men" communication device behind "Krog". A smaller version of it is within their space ships. Below, "Retik" communicates with "Krog" from the moon.

"Retik" wants to conquer the Earth from his base on the moon. It is up to "Commando Cody" to stop him, both on Earth and the surface of the moon. 

Below, a look at the Lydecker brother's special effects and models:

Like the misconception of "The Republic Robot", many people believe that "Retik's lunar tank" is the reused "Juggernaut vehicle" from 1936's, "Undersea Kingdom".

Above, the "Lunar tank", and below, the "Juggernaut vehicle".

However, once again turning to Harmon and Glut:
Despite reports that a repainted Juggernaut vehicle from Republic's much-earlier Undersea Kingdom serial is reused here as Retik's lunar tank, the tank-like Moon "Scout Car" was not used in the earlier serial.

"Radar Men From the Moon" had the first appearances of Theodore and Howard Lydecker's rocket ships. The brothers created both model rocket ships for flight and large-scale versions for the actors to be seen in. 

Below, a classic Lydecker blending of a model of "Commando Cody's" space ship on a thin wire in a perspective shot. Everything in this still is Lydecker Brother created.

Below, "Commando Cody's" rocket ship in its secret base, followed by stills of it taking off with "Cody" and his crew. The prospective real blue-screen backgrounds are from the "Iverson Movie Ranch", Chatsworth, California. The foreground in the first still are blended models made by the Lydecker Brothers.

Below, one of the "Radar Men's" rocket ships is landing on a Lydecker created countryside. 

Speaking of "The Republic Robot", this scene from "Radar Men From the Moon", is his return. Like the majority of the "King of the Rocket Men" flying sequences used in this Cliff-Hanger/Serial, this robot sequence will reappear in the next two Cliff-Hanger/Serials.

Below is the Lydecker Brother's moon city.

Every henchman should have a Lydecker built atomic space canon, seen in two different scenes.

The next installment of "Commando Cody" was to have been a television series, but problems came-up over making a television program. The screenplay was revived and became 1952's, "Zombies of the Stratosphere"

George Wallace was no longer "Commando Cody", and he was replaced by Judd Holdren, but the character's name was changed to "Larry Martin", Aline Towne was to return as "Joan Gilbert", but had her name was now changed to "Sue Davis".

Above, Judd Holdren portraying "Larry Martin", and Aline Towne portraying "Sue Davis".

Then in 1953, "Commando Cody: Sky Marshall of the Universe" was released and Judd Holdren was back as "Commando Cody", and Aline Towne was back as "Joan Gilbert". 

My article on Holdren's career and his tragic death, "Judd Holdren: Commando Cody Sky Marshall of the Universe 2.0", can be read at:


Howard and Theodore Lydecker's special effects from both productions:

Does this scene from 1952's, "Zombies of the Stratosphere" look vaguely familiar?

Above, the Martian holding the box is Leonard Nimoy in his pre-Vulcan form. Below, Lane Bradford, as the Martian "Marex", and Nimoy making a hydrogen bomb, Lyndecker style.

Below, the colorized Lydecker Martian space ship. The colorization of the shorten "Satan's Satellites" ruins Theodore and Howard's model and set in my opinion.

Staying with colorization, it is the reused robot robbery scene from 1940's, "Mysterious Doctor Satan". It is this scene with the Lydecker's revised "Republic Pictures Robot", that is most often used in the belief that this Cliff-Hanger/Serial was the first time the robot appeared.

Switching to "Commando Cody: Sky Marshall of the Universe".

Front row left, that is Richard Crane portraying rocket ship pilot "Dick Preston". For those who may be interested in the actor, my article, "Richard Crane: 'Rocky Jones, Space Ranger', and 'The Alligator People", will be found at:


Above, outer Space, Lydecker style, and below, the inside of an alien rocket ship based on Venus.

For those interested in a detail look at each of the "Rocket Man" Cliff-Hanger/Serials and not only the work of the Lydecker Brothers as this article is concentrating upon. My article, "Republic Pictures: THE ROCKET MAN CLIFF HANGERS" is available for your reading at:

I started this section with a Science Fiction Western and now close it with a Science Fiction Mystery.
Before Marvel Comics had the rights to the Timely Comics character of "Captain America". There was the "Republic Pictures" Cliff-Hanger/Serial described as a Science Fiction and Mystery:

CAPTAIN AMERICA chapter one released on February 5, 1944

The following is from my article, "America's Super Heroes VS the Axis Powers in World War 2 Cliff Hangers", found at:

Republic dropped all reference to the "Timely Comics" character claiming that they had no idea who Captain America was and turned him into a local District Attorney named Grant Gardner and instead of playing a Nazi Spy Ring Leader. They had Lionel Atwill playing Dr. Cyrus Maldor aka: the Scarab. Who is behind a rash of suspicious suicides among some scientists and business leaders.

Apparently, there is a hypnotic chemical called "The Purple Death" and those injected with it are committing suicide. 

Dick Purcell portrayed not "Timey Comics" "Steve Rodgers", but District Attorney "Grant Gardner" aka: "Captain America". Purcell only made two more movies, and suddenly collapsed in a gym locker room and died on April 10, 1944, he was 38-years-old.

Lionel Atwill portrayed "Dr. Cyrus Maldor" aka: "The Scarab". Unlike every other Cliff-Hanger/Serial Mystery with a villain. Where the hero, not the audience, knows who that villain really is. This screenplay had a twist and the hero doesn't know his identify, but the audience does. Lionel Atwill had just portrayed the "Mayor" in 1943's, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man". He followed this Cliff-Hanger/Serial co-starring with Jean Parker in the 1944 feature film, "Lady in the Death House", 


"Republic Pictures" wanted to enter the pure horror feature film business still controlled in 1944 by "Universal Pictures" and to a minor degree, "Columbia Pictures". Rather than only being known for their Cliff-Hanger/Serials and Westerns. The first attempt should have been a success, based upon a best-selling Science Fiction/Horror novel "Donovan's Brain", by Curt Siodmak. Who had written the screenplays for the classic 1941, "The Wolfman", 1943', "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman", producer Val Lewton's, 1943, "I Walked with a Zombie", and with his brother Robert Sidmak directing, 1943's, "Son of Dracula", released immediately before this movie. However, "Republic Pictures" only used his novel and didn't hire Curt Siodmak to write the screenplay. My article, "CURT and ROBERT SIODMAK: Horror and Film Noir", will be found at:


The motion picture was a box office failure: 

THE LADY AND THE MONSTER premiered in Los Angeles on March 30, 1944

Vera Hruba Ralston portrayed "Janice Farrell". Born in Czechoslovakia, the Olympic skater had a strong accent, was still learning English, and to cover that up. "Janice" is presented as a Czechoslovakian American ward of Richard Arlen's character. In 1946, she would become just Vera Ralston.

Richard Arlen portrayed "Dr Patrick Cory". Arlen had co-starred in the first motion picture to win the "Best Picture (called at the time Outstanding Production) Academy Award", director William A Wellman's, 1929, "Wings". The same year he was in producer Merian C. Cooper's, "The Four Feathers", with Fay Wray. Arlen next co-starred in H.G. Wells', 1932, "Island of Lost Souls", starring Charles Laughton portraying "Dr. Moreau", and featuring Bela Lugosi portraying the "Sayer of the Law". Arlen would portray "The Cheshire Cat", in the live action, 1933, "Alice in Wonderland". 

Eric von Stroheim portrayed "Professor Franz Mueller". The actor, director, and screenplay writer had just portrayed "Field Marshall Erwin Rommel" in director Billy Wilder's, 1943, "Five Graves to Cairo". He followed this picture co-starring once more with Vera Hruber Ralston and Richard Arlen in 1944's, "Storm Over Lisbon".

The screenplay changes the role of "Dr. Cory" from the scientist that will preserve "W.H. Donovan's" brain, to the assistant of a German brain specialist, "Professor Mueller". Who lives in a castle in the middle of the desert in Arizona. The brain will be kept alive, but it takes over "Mueller" not "Cory", in this screenplay. The Professor is in loved with "Dr. Cory's" ward, but so is "Cory". The strait line science fiction story that Curt Siodmak wrote is switched into a mad scientist melodrama from screenplay writers Dane Lussier and Frederick Kohner. 

All the special effects are the work of Theodore Lydecker only.

After the failure of 1944's, "The Lady and the Monster", "Republic Pictures" shelved the idea of making pure horror movies and returned to what they knew best, Cliff-Hanger/Serials and formular "B" Westerns with Roy Rodgers, as Gene Autry had switched to "Columbia Pictures". However, the continued success of "Universal Pictures" horror movies brought the studio back to experimenting once again, just a little over a year after the failure.

The studios experiment was in two parts, the first two-films seemed to work, the second part failed and the project disappeared not to be brought up again. The following are those first two films.

THE VAMPIRE'S GHOST released on May 1, 1945

This is an overlooked, mostly forgotten, odd vampire movie. The original story and screenplay were by Leigh Bracket, she would write four John Wayne movies for director Howard Hawks, 1959's, "Rio Bravo", 1962's, "Hatari!", 1966's, "El Dorado", and 1970's, "Rio Lobo". She also co-wrote Hawks's, 1946's, "The Big Sleep", starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. For director George Lucas, Brackett wrote the original screenplay treatment for 1980's, "The Empire Strikes Back".  My article, "LEIGH BRACKETT: Howard Hawks and John Wayne Meet 'The Queen of Space Opera", can be read at:


Special effects for a horror film are usually very subtle depending up the story. Here are some stills from "The Vampire's Ghost", which could be described as Casablanca Meets Dracula.

Above, John Abbot's "Webb Fallon" has his own version of Bogart's "Rick's Place" in the African village of Bakunda, not far from the coast. Only one difference, "Fallon's" a vampire.

THE PHANTOM SPEAKS released May 10, 1945

Described as a Supernatural Film-Noir, "The Phantom Speaks" starred Richard Arlen portraying "Matt Fraser".

"Howard Bogardus", portrayed by Tom Powers. "Bogardus" kills a man he thinks is having an affair with his wife. Reporter "Matt Fraser" interviews "Bogardus" before his execution and the attending "Dr. Paul Renwick", portrayed by Stanley Ridges, tells "Fraser" he believes people with strong souls can return from the dead. Shortly after the execution, the attorney that represented "Bogardus" is murdered. The attorney had been using a Dictaphone before his death and strangely the voice of "Howard Bogardus" is clearly heard speaking to him. This will be followed by other murders and before "Matt Fraser" can finish putting two and two together, "Dr. Renwick" attempts to commit suicide, but the spirt of "Howard Bogardus", possessing the doctor, prevents it and "Renwick" now goes after "Fraser".


"Republic Pictures" was built upon Westerns and I've already mentioned five of their stars, Gene Autry, Tom Mix, Ken Maynard, Ray "Crash" Corrigan, and John Wayne, inherited from the merger with "Mascot Pictures", and one other the studio created, Roy Rodgers. There would be others such as Rex Allen, Allan Lane, and Rod Cameron. 

The Lydecker Brothers would create mine explosions and rock slides, burning buildings and their signature train wrecks, but when a screenplay didn’t call for them. Their effects were less terrific looking, such as a bullet knocking a piece of wood off a door, or the movement of the water in a horse trough. The following motion pictures all have effects by the Lydecker Brothers, but for some I could not find a specific still to illustrate them. However, these motion pictures help in showing the different styles of Westerns being made by “Republic Pictures” during the three decades Howard and Theodore worked for the studio.

The first motion picture I want to mention is the third Western for Theodore, but the fourth Western that Howard worked upon, if you count 1935's "The Phantom Empire" as a Western.

THE PAINTED STALLION the official release date was June 5, 1937, the date the six-chapter was made available. No other release date records prior to June 5th seem to exist.

This Western Cliff-Hanger is notable for two of its stars shown on the above poster and the actor who portrayed the main henchmen.

Ray Corrigan portrayed "Clark Stewart". Since 1935's "Undersea Kingdom", "Crash Corrigan" had appeared in twelve motion pictures, seven of which were in "The Three Mesquiteers" series. By this time, Ray Corrigan had purchased 1500 acres of land in the Santa Susana Mountains, this would become the dividing line between the San Ferando and Simi Valley's. It was on this land that he built his movie ranch, "Corriganville", https://obscurehollywood.net/corriganville.html

"Corriganville" would become competition for the already mentioned and more known, "Iverson Movie Ranch", in Chatsworth, and the very smaller "Spahn Movie Ranch", also in Chatsworth. That smaller movie ranch would gain notoriety for its connection with the Tate/LaBianca Murders. My article, "The Spahn Movie Ranch, Sharon Tate, the LaBianca's and Helter Skelter", can be read at:


Hoot Gibson portrayed "Walter Jamison". Edmund Richard "Hoot" Gibson started appearing on-screen in 1910, and became a major silent and sound "B" Cowboy through the 1940's. He had just appeared in the 1936 Western, "Cavalcade of the West", and followed this feature with 1943's, "Wild Horse Stampede".

Above, Hoot Gibson on the left, Sammy McKim portraying "Christopher Kit Carson", and Roy "Crash" Corrigan.

Duncan Renaldo
portrayed "Zamorro, the Henchmen". From 1950 through 1956, to my television generation, Duncan Renaldo was "The Cisco Kid". He had portrayed the role eight-times between 1945 and 1949 in feature films. The problem is, Duncan Renaldo was not Hispanic, he was born Vasile Dumitru Cugheanos in Oancea, Galati County, Romania, and first took the name of Renault Renaldo Duncan. His first on-screen role was in a short, that he also directed and wrote, 1926's, "Punchinello". His co-star was a Hungarian born actor now calling himself Bela Lugosi. My article, "The History of the CISCO KID on the Motion Picture and Television Screens", will be found at:



Above, Ray Corrigan carrying Sammy Mc Kim. Below the special effects of the climactic battle sequence, timing is everything.

Below one of the model explosion scenes.

Theodore and Howard Lydecker in a way followed in the 1920 footsteps of Howard Crosley Lydecker, their father, when:

ZORRO RIDES AGAIN chapter one was released on November 20, 1937

In 1919, pulp writer Johnston McCulley wrote "The Curse of Capistrano" and "Don Diego Vega" first took on the mantle of "El Zorro (The Fox)". For those interested in the character, my article is, "ZORRO: On the Motion Picture and Television Screens", and is found at:


John Carroll portrayed "James Vega" aka: "El Zorro". Carroll had fourteenth billing as "Joe Donahue" in the Preston Foster, Ann Dvorak, and John Beal's, 1936, Crime Drama, "We Who Are About to Die". This Cliff-Hanger/Serial was followed by 1938's, "Rose of the Rio Grande", New Orleans born Carroll had moved from "El Zorro (The Fox)" to portraying "El Gato (The Cat)".

Duncan Renaldo portrays "Renaldo", who helps the person behind the mask. The actor had just been billed as Duncan Rinaldo, in 1937's, "Sky Racket", and followed this feature with John Carroll's, 1938, "Rose of the Rio Grande".

Noah Beery, Senior, portrayed the villain "J.A. Marsden". Beery portrayed the evil "Sgt. Pedro Gonzalez" in Douglas Fairbanks, Senior's, 1920, version of "The Mark of Zorro".

"J.A. Marsden" aims to take over the "California-Yucatan Railroad" with the help of his henchmen, "El Lobo (The Wolf)", portrayed by Richard Alexander.

Looking at the work of the Lydecker Brothers, things seem to get hot for John Carroll.

Below what seems to be a real plane attacking a real train are the Lydecker Brothers model work. Especially when the plane drops a bomb on the train.

Below, coordinating a combination special effects and stunt sequence.

KING Of THE TEXAS RANGERS chapter one released on October 4, 1941

Singing Cowboys were really in with audiences by the time this Cliff-Hanger/Serial came out, but "Republic Pictures" experiment of turning a well known football player into a singing cowboy lasted for this one feature.

Billed as "Slingin' Sammy Baugh the Footbail Sensation", and portraying "Ranger Tom King, Jr.". Baugh was a two-time All-American for the "Texas Christian University", "Horned Frogs". He played in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins from 1937 through 1952. Next, Sammy Baugh coached for Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and followed that by becoming a professional football coach for both the New York Titans, and Houston Oilers.

Duncan Renaldo portrayed "Lt. Pedro Garcia". Renaldo had just been seen in 1931's, "Bad Men of Missouri", starring Dennis Morgan, Jane Wyman, and Wayne Morris, and followed this Cliff-Hanger/Serial with the Gene Autry, 1941, "Down Mexico Way".

Neil Hamilton
portrayed "John Barton". Hamilton is best known to 1966 through 1968 television audiences as "Commissioner Gordon" on "Batman". His first on-screen appearance was in 1918, and he co-starred in 1929's, "The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu", and the sequel, 1930's, "The Return of Fu Manchu". Hamilton also co-starred in the classic sound Horror Mystery, 1930's "The Cat Creeps", starring Helen Twelvetrees.

Returning to Jim Harmon and Donald Glut's work, the two historians consider "King of the Texas Rangers" to contain one of the best Cliff-Hanger/Serial endings in the genre curtesy of Howard and Theodore Lydecker. "Tom King" is seen jumping onto a speeding train that enters a tunnel in a mountain and the villains detonate dynamite seen closing the tunnel entrance. End of that chapter. 

The next chapter opens with the train entering the mountain tunnel, the dynamite goes off, but "Tom King" yells to the engineer to open the throttle and they get through safely.

Below, some of the excellent model work of the Lydecker brothers from this Cliff-Hanger/Serial.

Sometimes you use a name to get attention.

ZORRO'S BLACK WHIP chapter one was released on December 6, 1944

In "Zorro's Black Whip", there is no "Zorro"! However, there is a "Black Whip"!

However, in fact there are three, but one is killed and the second becomes the new one to fight injustice. While the third is used to hide the identity of the second.

Oh, there is literally a "Black Whip", and the story is not set in Mexico, or Spanish California, but Idaho.

The above poster gives the idea that George J. Lewis is the title character and he does play an ally of "The Black Whip", United States Government Agent "Vic Gordon". 

Trivia: George L. Lewis portrayed "Don Alejandro de la Vega", the father of "Don Diego de la Vega", on the Walt Disney television series "Zorro", 1957-1961.

Linda Stirling portrays "Barbara Meredith", owner of the local newspaper, and after her brother is murdered, takes over as the second "The Black Whip". She started in "Republic Pictures" Cliff-Hanger/Serials with her second on-screen appearance in the title role of 1944's, "The Tiger Woman". 

The story is routine with the villain and everyone else believing that "Vic Gordon" is "The Black Whip" and not "Barbara". However, to fool the villain, "Vic" takes on the clothes of the title character and becomes the third "Black Whip".

The special effects of the Lydecker Brothers keep the action going and really steal the show. 

One of the best model special effects from Theodore and Howard Lydecker comes when they create a model of the actual "Grove Relay Station" on the Iverson Movie Ranch, and then had a man-made rock-avalanche destroy it. 


 The following pictures do not do justice to the brother's work.

The following link will show my reader the actual scene as found on the above "Iverson Movie Ranch" link:


My next Western Cliff-Hanger/Serial stars four of "Republic Pictures" familiar faces.

JESSE JAMES RIDES AGAIN chapter one was released on August 2, 1947

Above is Clayton Moore portraying "Jesse James". Moore had just co-starred in the Cliff-Hanger/Serial, 1946's, "The Crimson Ghost", and followed this production by co-starring with forgotten "B" Cowboy actor, Monty Hale, in 1947's, "Along the Oregon Trail".

Linda Stirling portrayed "Ann Bolton". Stirling had just co-starred with Clayton Moore in 1946's, "The Crimson Ghost".  She also co-starred with Roy Barcroft in 1945's, "The Purple Monster Strikes".

Roy Barcroft portrayed "Frank Lawton". Barcroft was just in 1947's, "Wyoming" and followed this feature with the Allan Lane and Robert Blake, "Red Ryder" entry, 1947's, "Marshal of Cripple Creek".

Tristram Coffin portrayed "James Clark". Still nineteen roles aways from portraying "Jeffrey King" in 1949's "King of the Rocket Men". Coffin had just been in the Film-Noir, 1947's, "Blackmail", and would follow this Cliff-Hanger/Serial with the Drama, 1947's, "Louisiana".

Above, Roy Barcroft, on the left, speaking to Tristram Coffin.

Like many "B" Westerns with a good "Billy the Kid", this is an innocent "Jesse James", framed by a gang known as "The Black Raiders" for a series of bank robberies.

THE FIGHTING KENTUCKIAN released on September 15, 1949

The screenplay is set in 1818, Alabama, and looks at a group of "Bonapartists" exiled from France after Napoleon's defeat by the Duke of Wellington at the "Battle of Waterloo".

John Wayne portrayed "John Breen". This was John Wayne's second motion picture as a producer His first was "Republic Pictures", 1949, "Wake of the Red Witch". Wayne had just co-starred in director John Ford's, 1949, "She Word a Yellow Ribbon", and would follow this feature with "Republic's", 1949, "Sands of Iwo Jima".

Vera Ralston portrayed French émigré, "Fleurette De Marchand". However, her strong  Czechoslovakian accent didn't sound French. So, "Republic Pictures" hired Czechoslovakian actors to play the other French parts, and Ralston's accent didn't seem out of place. It is rumored that she was given the female lead not because of her acting, but the fact that she was becoming the girlfriend of Herbert J. Yates. The two would marry in 1952, after he had left his wife in 1948.

Oliver Hardy portrayed "Willie Paine". Just prior to this feature, Hardy co-starred with his comic partner Stan Laurel in 1945's, "The Bullfighters". This would be followed by the actor/comedians final two motion pictures, out of a career of 419, 1950's "Riding High" and "Atoll K" aka: "Utopia".

RIO GRANDE released November 15, 1950

This was the final entry in director John Ford's, cavalry trilogy. I look at all three films in my article, "John Wayne in John Ford's CAVALRY TRILOGY: 'Fort Apache', 1948, 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon', 1949, and 'Rio Grande', 1950", at:


John Wayne portrayed "Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke". Wayne had just been in 1949's, "Sands of Iwo Jima", and followed this feature film with 1951's, "Operation Pacific" co-starring Patricia Neal.

Maureen O'Hara portrayed "Mrs. Kathleen Yorke". O'Hara's third and fourth movies were co-starring with Charles Laughton. First in director Alfred Hitchcock's, 1939, version of authoress Daphne Du Maurier's, "Jamaica Inn". Her second feature was as "Esmeralda", in director William Dieterle's, 1939, version of French author Victor Hugo's, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". This was Maureen O'Hara's first motion picture with John Wayne. The actress had just co-starred with Macdonald Carey in 1950's, "Comanche Territory", and followed this feature film with 1950's, "Tripoli", co-starring John Payne.

Ben Johnson portrayed "Trooper Travis Tyree". He had just co-starred with Joanne Dru and Harry Carey, Jr. in director John Ford's, 1950, overlooked, "Wagon Master". In 1949, Johnson co-starred with Terry Moore and Robert Armstrong in "Mighty Joe Young". My article, "Ben Johnson: Roping a 12 Foot Gorilla", will be found at:


Harry Carey, Jr. portrayed "Trooper Daniel 'Sandy' Boone". Besides this motion picture and "Wagon Master", the son of one of John Wayne's mentors, Harry Carey, co-starred with John Wayne in director John Ford's, 1948, the "3 Godfathers", and became a part of what was known as the "John Ford Stock Company". A life long friend of Wayne, he appeared with the actor another seven times. He would go on to work with Roy Barcroft on Walt Disney's "The Adventures of Spin and Marty", as the boys councilor "Bill Burnett".

Claude Jarman, Jr. portrayed "Trooper Jefferson 'Jeff' Yorke". He had portrayed the son of Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman in 1946's, "The Yearling". In 1949, he co-starred with David Brian in author William Faulkner's, "Intruder in the Dust".

Above left to right, Ben Johnson, Maureen O'Hara, Claude Jarman, Jr., and Harry Carey, Jr.

JOHNNY GUITAR released on May 4, 1954

The motion picture was a pet project of Joan Crawford, but the film was panned by American critics and word of mouth, killed the potential audiences at the time. However, European audiences got it and loved the story. Today, the motion picture is recognized for its theme innovations and characters and the performances of the four leading actors. The plot hinges on a recognized, by a local community, good woman, "Emma", who hates the successful bad woman, "Vienna", or perhaps they're actually the reverse, with "Johnny Guitar" and "Dancin' Kid" in the middle? 

Director Nicholas Ray had just directed the Susan Hayward and Robert Mitchum modern Rodeo Western feature, 1952's, "The Lusty Men". He would follow this picture with the 1955, James Cagney, Viveca Lindfors, and John Derek, "Run for Cover", and that feature film with 1955's, "Rebel Without a Cause", starring James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo.

Joan Crawford portrayed "Vienna". Crawford had just been seen in 1953's, "Torch Song", and followed this picture with 1955's, "Female on the Beach", co-starring Jeff Chandler. The actress first appeared on-screen in the 1923 short, "The Casting Couch". She co-starred with Lon Chaney, Sr. in director Tod Browning's, 1927, "The Unknown", portrayed author W. Somerset Maugham's, "Sadie Thompson", in director Lewis Milestone's, 1932, "Rain", and was "Mildred Pierce", in 1945, and "Daisy Kenyon", in 1947.

Sterling Hayden portrayed "Johnny Guitar". In 1950, Hayden co-starred in director John Huston's, classic Crime Film-Noir, "The Asphalt Jungle", featuring an unknown Marilyn Monroe, in 1954, and he was "Sir Gawain", in "Prince Valiant", starring a young Robert Wagner in the title role. However, Sterling Hayden is better known for two roles, "Brig. General Jack D. Ripper", in director Stanley Kubrick's, 1964, "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb", and "Capt. McCluskey", in director Francis Ford Coppola's, 1972, "The Godfather".

Scott Brady portrayed the "Dancin' Kid". Brady's name is above the actual third lead, Mercedes McCambridge, because of audience recognition to lure them into the movie theaters. Prior to this feature, Scott Brady co-starred with Vera Ralston and David Brian, in the Western, 1953's, "A Perilous Journey". He would follow this picture with director William Castle's, 1954, "The Law vs. Billy the Kid", in the title role. 

Mercedes McCambridge portrayed "Emma Small". The actress started out as the first of two actresses to play the character of "Beth Holly", on the forgotten 1949 through 1952, television soap opera, "One Man's Family", also in the cast were unknowns Eva Marie Saint, Tony Randall, Les Tremayne, Jack Webb, and Lloyd Bochner. Her first motion picture was with fifth-billing in the 1949, "All the King's Men", but Mercedes McCambridge walked away with the "Best Supporting Actress Academy Award". She would be nominated in that category for director George Stevens, 1956, "Giant", portraying Rock Hudson's sister.

The cast for this unusual Western also includes Ward Bond, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine, Paul Fix, Denver Pyle, Sheb Wooley, Frank Ferguson, and Royal Dano.

My last Western is a historical picture about "The Alamo", that John Wayne wanted to make since 1948. He had a screenplay written by Patrick Ford, director John Ford's son, but over several clashes with Herbert J. Yates, he was never able to get him to greenlight the screenplay. After completing 1952's, "The Quiet Man", John Wayne walked away with three-years left on his contract with "Republic Pictures". That story is part of my article, "John Wayne's 'THE ALAMO': A Fan Reflects On Seeing the Original Roadshow Engagement", at:

This is considered by some, studio owner Herbert John Yates getting even with John Wayne for walking out on "Republic Pictures". However, it is also a very good motion picture that became overshadowed five-years later by Wayne's version. 

Yates hired director Frank Lloyd; this was the last of his 135-motion pictures.  Among his prior films are the Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, 1935, "Mutiny on the Bounty", the Ronald Coleman, Claudette Colbert, and Victor McLaglen, 1936, "Under Two Flags", Ronald Coleman and Basil Rathbone's, 1938, "If I Were King", the Cary Grant and Martha Scott, 1940, "The Howards of Virginia", and the James Cagney and Sylvia Sidney, 1945, "Blood on the Sun".

Sterling Hayden portrayed "Jim Bowie", the title refers to Bowie. Hayden had just been seen in the 1954, Western, "Arrow in the Dust", and would follow this feature with the unusual Frank Sinatra Crime Film-Noir, 1954's, "Suddenly".

Anna Maria Alberghetti portrayed "Consuelo de Quesada". Italian-American Alberghetti was both an actress and a singer. Her first on-screen appearance was in the 1955 Italian production "Il medium (The Medium)". However, the Bing Crosby, Jane Wyman, Alexis Smith, Franchot Tone, and James Barton, 1951, "Here Comes the Groom", "Introduced" Italian Singer, Anna Maria Alberghetti, who sang, "Caro nome", from the Giuseppe Verdi's opera, "Rigoletto". After three television appearances, this was her second motion picture.

Richard Carlson portrayed "Lieutenant Colonel William Barrett Travis". Carlson was still appearing on television in "I Led 3 Lives", his last motion picture appearance was in 1954's, 3-D, "The Creature from the Black Lagoon", and he had just narrated the 1955, "An Annapolis Story", and followed this feature film, co-starring with Richard Conte, and Victor McLaglen, in 1955's, "Bengazi". My article, "Richard Carlson the Academic Turned Actor", can be read at:


Above sitting, Richard Carlson and Virginia Grey, portraying "Mrs. Susanna Dickinson".
Above standing left to right, Sterling Hayden, Eduard Franz portraying "Lorenzo de Quesada", Anna Maria Alberghetti, and John Russell portraying "Lt. Almaron Dickinson".

Arthur Hunnicutt
portrayed "Davy Crockett". Hunnicutt is best known for his folksy characters such as the way he plays "Crockett". He was nominated for the "Best Supporting Oscar" portraying "Zeb Calloway", in director Howard Hawks', 1952's, "The Big Sky". Also for Hawks, the actor portrayed "Bull", in 1966's, "El Dorado".

Above in the foreground is Arthur Hunnicutt, seated opposite him is Sterling Hayden, going around to his right are Richard Carlson, Ben Cooper portraying "Jeb Lacey", Jim Davis portraying "Ben Evans", Slim Pickens portraying "Abe", and John Russell.

J. Carrol Naish
portrayed "Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna". Character actor Naish started on-screen acting in 1925. Among his roles are "Cahusac" in 1935's, "Captain Blood", the evil Japanese scientist, "Dr. Daka",  in the first appearance of DC comics "Batman", in the 1943, Cliff-Hanger/Serial. "Giuseppe" in Humphrey Bogart's, 1943, "Sahara", "Daniel the Hunchback", in 1944's, "House of Frankenstein", Ovidio Castino", in Peter Lorre's, 1946, "The Beast with Five Fingers", portraying "General Sherman" in 1950's, "Rio Grande", and twice portraying "Chief Sitting Bull" in both 1950's, "Annie Get Your Gun", and 1954's, "Sitting Bull".

One of the twists to this version is that Jim Bowie and Santa Anna are good friends and respect each other. It is Santa Anna that will tell him of his wife and children's death from a cholera epidemic.

Another twist has Bowie brought to Santa Ana under a flag of truce, each man understands the other, but because of their friendship. Santa Ana offers to imprison Jim Bowie to save his life, Bowie refuses the offer and returns to the Alamo to die. 

In this story, Anna Maria Alberghetti's, "Consuelo de Quesada", is in love with "Jim Bowie", and she stays with "Mrs. Dickinson", as the other women are escorted to safety from the Alamo.

In John Wayne's, story, Linda Cristal's, "Graciela Carmela Maria 'Flaca' de Lopez y Vejar" is in love with "Davy Crockett", but is sent to safety before Santa Anna arrives.

This story also starts before Bowie comes to the Alamo and a backstory about him is given and what leads him there. Also, there is interaction with "Stephen F. Austin", portrayed by Otto Kruger.

It should be noted that Almeron Dickinson is shown as a "Lieutenant" in this version, but historians believe he was promoted to "Captain" prior to the battle. In the Wayne version, he has that rank.

From Glenn Erickson review on "Trailers From Hell":

Obviously The Last Command can’t compete with The Alamo for sheer epic grandeur. The shocking thing is that a great many of the action stunts in the Wayne picture are exact copies of what we see in Frank Lloyd’s movie. Key defenders are given spectacular All-Star special guest stunt deaths. They plunge off parapets, take multiple bayonets, etc.. In the tradition of superhuman playground heroics, almost all of them wreak maximum mayhem on the enemy as they bleed and fall, a-feudin’ and a-fussin’ and doing everything but rising for applause. The identical stunt action is seen repeatedly, right down to when the mortally wounded Davy Crockett ignites a black powder explosion. Hayden’s Jim Bowie, wounded and bedridden, unloads several weapons before being dispatched.

Below, filming "The Last Command".


Special effects, stunts, and the battle of the Alamo, below:


ROBINSON CRUSOE OF CLIPPER ISLAND chapter one released on November 14, 1936

The second chapter of this Cliff-Hanger/Serial is described below and the work of the special effects team of John T. Cole, Howard Lydecker, and Theodore Lydecker is indirectly mentioned.

The Four Stars in Billing Order:

Ray Mala was born in what was known in 1936, as "The District of Alaska", and portrayed "Agent Ray Mala". Between 1933 and 1952, he acted in twenty-four feature films. One of his uncredited roles was in director Cecil B. DeMille's, 1939, "Union Pacific", described as "Indian Finding Cigar Store Indian", while in Chapters 7-9, in 1940's, "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe", Ray Mala portrayed the "Prince of the Rock People".

Rex portrayed "Rex the Wonder Horse". This was next to "Rex's" final motion picture, his twenty-film career started in 1924's, "King of the Wild Horses". He frequently co-starred with forgotten, or overlooked, silent and sound Cowboy Jack Perrin, whose career started in 1916 and ended in 1962 after 479 different Cowboy roles.

Buck the Dog portrayed "Buck". Buck only appeared in three motion pictures.

Mamo Clark portrayed "Princess Melani", The Honolulu, Hawaii, born Clark appeared in only eleven feature films, but three of them stand out. 1935's, "Mutiny on the Bounty", director John Ford's, 1937, "The Hurricane", and Victor Mature's, 1940's, "One Million B.C.".

This link will take my reader to the trailer.

DRUMS OF FU MANCHU chapter one released on March 15, 1940

The above poster is incorrect, this Cliff-Hanger/Serial was not based upon a direct novel by British author Sax Rohmer, but his series character of "The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu", "the Yellow Peril!"

The story has "Dr. Fu Manchu" attempting to get the "scepter of Genghis Khan", and unite the peoples of Asia under his rule to conquer the world. It is up to his old adversary, "Scotland Yard Detective Sir Dennis Nayland Smith" to stop him. "Smith" is accompanied always by his "Dr.. Watson" clone, "Dr. Petrie. This is the only "Republic Pictures" Cliff-Hanger/Serial with the villain escaping at the end, because that is what happens in all of Sax Rohmer's novels, leading to the next adventure.

Henry Brandon portrayed "Dr. Fu Manchu". German born, "Pasadena Playhouse" graduate, Brandon's villainous roles will be found in 1934's, "March of the Wooden Soldiers", starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, the Charles Boyer and Marlene Dietrich's, 1936, "Garden of Allah", the 1939, Buster Crabbe Cliff-Hanger/Serial, "Buck Rodgers", and his most recognizable role, that of "Scar", in director John Ford's classic 1956 Western, "The Searchers".

William Royale portrayed "Sir Dennis Nayland Smith". This was Royale's sixty-third of sixty-six film roles that only started four-years earlier. Among his motion pictures is the cult classic, 1936,"Reefer Madness". That same year he had appeared in director Cecil B. DeMille's, "The Plainsman", starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur. Otherwise, William Royale had small roles in forgotten feature films.

Olaf Hytten portrayed "Dr. Flinders Petrie". Character actor Hytten was able to blend into scenes and if you didn't know his face, you would not know the actor. Among his films were 1930's, "The Return of Fu Manchu", and 1931's, "Daughter of the Dragon", about Fu Manchu's daughter and starring Anna May Wong. Along with the Reginald Owen and Anna May Wong, "Sherlock Holmes" story, 1933's, "A Study in Scarlet", 1937's, "The Good Earth", Norma Shearer's, 1938, "Marie Antoinette", Vivian Leigh and Laurence Oliver's, 1941, "That Hamilton Woman", Spencer Tracy's, 1941, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", and 1942's, "The Ghost of Frankenstein".

Above left, Olaf Hytten, William Royale, and Henry Brandon. Below, the "Republic Pictures" publicity department got it wrong,

The WRONG is that it's Luana Walters, above, portraying "Mary Randolph". Below, is Gloria Franklin portraying the daughter of Fu Manchu, "Fah-Lo-Suee". 

Above, Sax Rohmer meets Edgar Allan Poe and below, John Merton portraying "Loki", a marvel of Bob Mark's make-up.

Below, never get near a Lydecker Brother's giant octopus.

On November 27, 1943, "Republic Pictures" released a 200-minute shorten version of "Drums of Fu Manchu", under the same title as the 1941 release. 

All the above mentioned "Fu Manchu" movies are part of my article, "Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee: Fu Manchu the Movies", at:


KING OF THE MOUNTIES chapter one released on October 17, 1942

This is a perfect example of what was now appearing on American movie screens ten-months after the Pearl Harbor attack. This is not a true war film, and is described as an Action Adventure Western.

Allan "Rocky" Lane portrays the heroic Canadian Mountie, "Sgt. Dave King". "B" Cowboy star Lane had first portrayed "Sgt. Dave King" in the Cliff-Hanger/Serial, 1940's, "King of the Royal Mounted".

Peggy Drake portrayed "Carol Brent". This was the last of her five on-screen appearances since 1940. 

George Irving portrayed "Professor Brent". His first on-screen appearance was in 1914. Character actor Irving's 261 films include 1932's, "Island of Lost Souls", starring Charles Laughton as H.G. Wells', "Dr, Moreau", 1934's, "Viva Villa", starring Wallace Beery as "Pancho Villa", 1934's, "Manhattan Melodrama", the movie John Dillinger watched before he was killed outside the theater by the FBI, and the Kathrine Hepburn and Cary Grant, 1938, "Bringing Up Baby".

Above left to right, Allan "Rocky Lane, William Blakewell, 1930's "All Quiet on the Western Front", and 1952's, "Radar Men From the Moon", and George Irving.

Above the three main villains from left to right are Nester Paiva, 1954's, "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and 1955's, "Tarantula", portraying "Count Baroni".

William Vaughn actually born as Wilhelm von Bricken, not the best of names during the Second World War, portrayed "Marshal Von Horst". He was in 1939's, "Navy Secrets", starring Fay Wray.

Abner Biberman,  portrayed "Admiral Yamata". He was the evil India leader "Chota" in 1939's, "Gunga Din", starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Victor McLaglen, and Cary Grant. 

For those of my readers that may be interested you will find my article, "NESTER PAIVA: Skipper of the 'Rita' vs The Creature from the Black Lagoon", at:


A strange boomerang shaped aircraft is bombing Canada, and is controlled by the evil Japanese, "Admiral Yamata". Can "Sgt. Dave King" stop the plane and those helping the Japanese  with the recently murdered "Professor Brent's" airplane detector and his daughter "Carol's" help?

One of the more known pieces of work by Theodore and Howard Lydecker was the boomerang airplane aka: "The Falcon". Both model and full-size versions were created by the brothers.

Below, "The Falcon" comes off the deck of a Japanese battleship, also constructed by the Lydecker brothers, both are the models.

Below, "The Falcon" lands in its volcanic hideaway. At the climax, "Carol Brent" is captured and held there, as the volcano, courtesy of the Lydeckers, starts to blow-up.

Below, the Lydecker Brothers full-size powered mock-up of "The Falcon".

In 1968, "Cinerama Releasing Corporation" spent a lot of money to tell their story about a group of treasure hunters, looking for a sunken ship with a chest full of large pearls off the island of Krakatoa, just before its eruption. The title was "Krakatoa, East of Java", their main mistake in this adventure film was that the island of Krakatoa was located West of Java. However, in 1953, "Republic Pictures" got it right in an excellent old-fashion adventure movie.

FAIR WIND TO JAVA released on March 30, 1953

Based upon a popular novel by Garland Roark, author of "Wake of the Red Witch", and from a screenplay by war correspondent Richard Tregaskis, who wrote as it happened and published his "Guadalcanal Diary".

Fred MacMurray portrayed "Captain Boll". MacMurray, Dorothy McGuire, and Howard Keel were just in 1951's, "Callaway Went Thataway". MacMurray followed this feature film with the forgotten 3-D Western, 1953's, "The Moonlighter", co-starring with Barbara Stanwyck and Ward Bond.

Vera Ralston portrayed "Kim Kim". She was just in 1952's, "Hoodlum Empire", a Crime Drama that starred Brian Donlevy, Claire Trevor, and Forrest Tucker. 

Set in 1883, "Captain Boll" will face pirates, anti-slavery laws, and hunting for a fortune in diamonds on a sunken ship off the coast of Krakatoa, just prior to the eruption. 

The movie was restored by "The Martin Scorsese Film Foundation" at UCLA. Scorsese calls this motion picture:
the epitome of a Saturday afternoon matinee picture


This was a Lydecker Brothers field day with their models of the sailing ships, buildings. and especially the destruction of the volcanic island of Krakatoa. 

Below, the temple that plays a critical role in the search for the diamonds.

Krakatoa is no more and the Lydecker Brothers now give their audience the tidal wave.

My article about the actual event and the world wide effects in 1883 from Krakatoa and in detail the above two movies is entitled, "KRAKATOA: 'WEST' Not East of Java: The 1883 Destruction of the Island and Two Hollywood Motion Pictures", and can be read at:



WOMEN IN WAR released on June 6, 1940 

This American made piece of British propaganda came from "Republic Pictures" with British actors and actresses who had come from the United Kingdom to the United States. The picture was a patriotic look at the volunteer nurses of the British "Volunteer Aid Detachment". The story tells of a "good-time girl" raised by her divorced father that becomes involved in an accidental death. Her way to avoid jail is to volunteer for the "Aid Detachment". Where she is supervised by a strict matron who turns out to be the girl's mother.

Howard Lydecker was part of a team that was nominated for the "Best Special Effects Academy Award".

One name stands out when "Republic Pictures" fought the Second World War, John Wayne.

FLYING TIGERS released on October 8, 1942

This motion picture is also known as "Yank Over Singapore", and "Yanks Over the Burma Road".

John Wayne
portrayed "Captain Jim Gordon". "Duke", Binnie Barnes, and Albert Decker, had just been in the Western, 1942's, "In Old California", and John Wayne would follow this feature with 1942's, "Pittsburgh", co-starring with Marlene Dietrich and Randolph Scott. 

John Carroll portrayed "Woody Jason". Carroll had just co-starred with Ruth Hussey and Bruce Cabot in 1942's, "Pierre of the Plains", and followed this feature with a Comedy Romance, "The Youngest Profession", made at "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer" to showcase their current stars in cameo roles as themselves.

Finishing the love-triangle subplot was:

Anna Lee portraying "Brooke Elliott". Lee had just co-starred in director John Ford's, 1941, "How Green Was My Valley". She followed this feature co-starring with Paul Muni in 1942's, "Commando's Strike at Dawn".

Theodore and Howard Lydecker were nominated for the "Best Special Effects Academy Award" for 1942's, "Flying Tigers", but lost. That loss is a testament to the workmanship of the brothers and their team. Herbert J. Yates was informed that the reason the Lydecker Brothers lost the "Oscar" was because they used actual "Flying Tiger" shot war footage, passing it off as their own work. There is not one frame of actual war footage used in "Flying Tigers"! It is all the models and filming by the Lydecker Brothers.

Below are the Lydecker Brothers and their team working on the models for and shooting the actual sequences that fooled the "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences" as found on the website, "Matte Shot":

Below, John Wayne and John Carroll in the cockpit of the plane that is supposed to bomb the train below. However, the bomb misses and Carroll pushes Wayne out of the plane to safety. Then he dives the aircraft onto the train, dying valiantly, while destroying the it.

THE FIGHTING SEABEES released on January 27, 1944

This is the "Hollywood" story about the creation on the United States Navy Construction Battalion's.

John Wayne portrayed "Lt. Commander 'Wedge Donovan". Just before Wayne was in the "Flying Tigers", he was in "Old California", now before "The Fighting Seabees", he was in the "Republic Pictures" Western, 1943's, "In Old Oklahoma", also with Albert Dekker, but Martha Scott and not Binnie Barnes. He followed this picture with 1944's, "Tall in the Saddle".

Susan Hayward
portrayed "Constance Chesley". Hayward was just in the "Hollywood" biographical motion picture, 1944's, "Jack London", and followed this picture with playwright Eugene O'Neil's, 1944, "The Hairy Ape".

Dennis O'Keefe
portrayed "Lt. Commander Robert Yarrow". O'Keefe had just been in the Musical Comedy, 1943's, "Hi Diddle Diddle", co-starring with Adolphe Menjou and Martha Scott, and followed this film with the 1944 Comedy, "Up in Mabel's Room", co-starring with Marjorie Reynolds.

The screenplay has "Wedge Donovan's" construction team being kept unarmed on islands being attacked by the Japanese. "Donovan" has men dying, because they're civilian contractors. He demands they be able to carry guns and with the help of "Lt. Commander Yarrow", "The Fighting Seabees" will be formed. This is one of the movies in which John Wayne is killed.

The Lydecker Brothers just love to blow up things on the "Iverson Movie Ranch".

THE SANDS OF IWO JIMA premiered in San Francisco on December 14, 1949

John Wayne portrayed "Sgt. John M. Stryker". He would be nominated for the first time for the "Best Actor Academy Award". Audiences had just seen John Wayne in 1949's, "The Fighting Kentuckian", and he would follow this film with the final entry in director John Ford's cavalry trilogy, 1950's, "Rio Grande".

John Agar portrayed "Pfc. Peter Conway". Agar was still in his "Cinderella" marriage to "America's sweetheart", Shirley Temple, but that would end the following year. My article, "John Agar His Fall That Led to Science Fiction Cult Status", may be read at:


Adele Mara portrayed "Allison Bromley". Among singer/dancer Mara's other films for "Republic Pictures" are the previously mentioned 1944's, "The Fighting Seabees", portraying "Winkles Tucker, a jitterbug dancer", 1945's, "The Vampire's Ghost", portraying "Lisa", 1945's, "The Tiger Woman", portraying "Sharon Winslow", 1946's, "Catman of Paris", portraying Marguerite Duval", and 1948's, "Wake of the Red Witch", portraying "Teleia Van Schreeven".

Forrest Tucker portrayed "Pfc. Al Thomas". He had just co-starred with Walter Brennan in the 1949 Rod Cameron Western, "Brimstone", and would follow this feature film by co-starring with Dorothy Malone in the 1950 Randolph Scott Western, "The Nevadan". Tucker went to the United Kingdom in the late 1950's and starred in three cult Science Fiction films, 1957's, "The Abominable Snowman" aka: "The Abominable Snowman of the Himalaya's", opposite Peter Cushing, 1958's, "The Strange World of Planet X" aka: "The Cosmic Monsters", and 1958's, "The Trollenberg Terror" aka: "The Crawling Eye", opposite Janet Munro.

The basic story follows a group of Marine Corps recruits under "Sgt. Stryker" from boot camp to the "Sands of Iwo Jima". 

There are two subplots:

The Main one is a private war of sorts between "Stryker" and "Pfc. Peter Conway" over their opposite views of "Conway's" father, "Colonel Sam Conway", whom "Stryker" served under. 

The secondary is the discovering that "Sgt. Stryker" isn't always the tough and drinking Marine sergeant and has a soft side. Shown when he meets "Allison Bromley" and her baby.

The special effects are excellent under the creation and supervision of the Lydecker's. For this motion picture they had an interesting added team member, the uncredited "United States Marine Corps" demolition training group.

Another Second World War feature film that the Lydecker Brothers did the special effects on was a subtle anti-Nazi propaganda feature film for American audiences.

LAKE PLACID SERENADE released on December 23, 1944

Vera Ralston billed as Vera Hruba Ralston, portrayed "Vera Haschek". This was five-years before the previously mentioned "The Fighting Kentuckian" and she spoke very little and slow English. In this screenplay she is portraying a Czechoslovakian skater and the "Republic Pictures" publicity department played up her actual Olympic skating. Vera had just co-starred with Erich von Stroheim and Richard Arlen in the Horror Science Fiction entry 1944's, "The Lady and the Monster".

Eugene Pallette portrayed "Carl Cermak. If his name isn't recognized, the opposite can be said for his motion pictures. In the 1930's and 1940's, Pallette was the "The Colonel" in Shirley Temple's, 1936, "Stowaway", "Friar Tuck" in the Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, 1939, "The Adventures of Robin Hood", he was "Chick McGann" in director Frank Capra's, 1939, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", "Fray Felipe", in Tyrone Power's, 1940, "The Mark of Zorro", and "Ed Keller", in the Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland, 1942, "The Male Animal".

Barbara Jo Allen, billed as Vera Vague, portrayed "The Countess". Actress, writer, ice skater, Allen was just in the 1944, Comedy Musical Western, "Girl Rush". She followed this feature with two short subjects.

Robert Livingston portrayed "Paul Jordan". 1930's "B" Cowboy, Bob Livingston, "The Three Mesquiteers" series and others. Had just been seen in the Vera Ralston, and Richard Arlen, 1944, "Storm Over Lisbon". He would next co-star with Richard Arlen in the Western, 1944's, "The Big Bonanza".

The plot almost seems partly a biography of Vera Helena Hruba. In Czechoslovakia, skater "Vera Haschek" trains on ice skates given to her by her grandfather for the National Championship. She wins and meets ice show impresario, "The Countess", who makes "Vera" part of her ice show. She takes the young skater to Lake Placid, New York, making her a favorite of American audiences. Then the Nazi's invade Czechoslovakia and "Vera" worries about her grandfather. She now seeks out her rich American uncle, "Carl Cermak" to help get "Vera's" grandfather out of Nazi held Czechoslovakia.  


"Drama" can be a hard word to define, because almost every motion picture except possibly a pure Musical, or Comedy seems to be described as a "Drama". 

According to "Merriam-Webster", "Drama" in motion pictures is defined as:
a movie or television production with characteristics (such as conflict) of a serious play
broadlya play, movie, or television production with a serious tone or subject  
a police drama

From the lists of the Lydecker Brother's motion pictures, I am picking a sampling within this article's overall sampling of their work to illustrate the topic of "Drama" at "Republic Pictures".

BORN TO BE WILD released February 16, 1938

Ralph Byrd portrayed "Steve Hackett". The previous year, Byrd had portrayed "Dick Tracy" in a Cliff-Hanger/Serial for "Republic Pictures". He would play the comic strip hero in three more Cliff-Hanger/Serials through 1939 for the studio. The female lead in the last one was Phyllis Isley, who would change her name to Jennifer Jones. Byrd portrayed "Dick Tracy" in two RKO feature films in 1947, and from 1950 through 1952, was the character on television.

Doris Weston portrayed "Mary Stevens". Born Thyra Doris Marion Swanstrom, her on-screen career totaled nine-movies. Doris co-starred with Dick Powell in her first movie, 1937's, "The Singing Marine", and sang five-songs. She co-starred with Warren Hull in the 1939 Cliff-Hanger/Serial, "Mandrake the Magician".

Ward Bond portrayed "Bill Purvis". Ward Bond was a starting lineman when USC won their first Championship title in 1928. A teammate of Bond's in 1926, lost his football scholarship after he broke his collarbone in a surfing accident. As a result, Marion Robert Morrison, was forced to leave the University of Southern California. Bond had an uncredited role in director Raoul Walsh's, 1930 Western, "The Big Trail", the star was Bond's friend Marion, but just now, renamed by Walsh, John Wayne.

Truck drivers "Steve Hackett" and "Bill Purvis" are surprised when their ex-boss hires them to take some produce to Lake Arrowhead with a thousand-dollar bonus. Something is up and they soon find the road blocked by farm workers on strike. The farmer workers take a box of lettuce, but it blows up. "Steve" and "Bill" now learn they're actually carrying dynamite to blow up a jammed dam. They start to leave and hit a car owned by "Mary Stevens" and she joins them on their dangerous drive.

The following is the only shot of the dam being blown-up by the Lydecker Brothers that I could locate,

Unless you have something like a dam to blow-up, most dramatic films had special effects that are unnoticed by the audience. The following motion picture falls into that category, but is described as a Action Crime Drama. What is of interest here are some of the names involved besides Howard and Theodore Lydecker.

DOCTORS DON'T TELL released on August 21, 1941

The director was Paris born, Jacques Tourneur, whose name would become closely associated with producer Val Lewton, starting with 1942's, "The Cat People", and 1943's, "I Walked with a Zombie". Six-years after this motion picture, Tourneur would make the classic Crime Drama Film-Noir, 1947's, "Out of the Past", starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer. Featuring still basically unknown supporting actors Kirk Douglas and Rhonda Fleming. In 1957, it was the United Kingdom's "Night of the Demon", aka: "Curse of the Demon", starring Dana Andrews and Niall MacGinnis.

John Beal portrayed "Dr. Ralph Sawyer". Among his work was third-billing in the Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard, 1939, version of the classic Comedy Horror Mystery, "The Cat and the Canary".
During the Second World War, Beal starred in an informational short for American's with the very long title of, "Photographic Intelligence for Bombardment Aviation", with third-billed Alan Ladd.

John Beal had the title role in a little seen, but very well done, modern, 1957, cult Horror movie, "The Vampire". There's a twist to the title and a moral, don't let your daughter get your pills from your jacket pocket. Also in the film are Kenneth Tobey, 1951's, "The Thing from Another World", 1953's, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", and 1955's, "It Came from Beneath the Sea", and Coleen Gray, director Howard Hawks', 1949, "Red River", and 1961's, "The Phantom Planet". Both "The Vampire", and the earlier mentioned 1945's, "The Vampire's Ghost", are part of my article, "Not the Same Old VAMPIRE Movies, or Get Your Dentures Away from My Jugular Vein", available for my reader to sink their teeth into at:


Florence Rice portrayed "Diana Wayne". Rice was a stage actress who switched to motion pictures in 1934. Her first motion picture was starring in 1934's, "Fugitive Lady" from "Columbia Pictures". Rice's co-star was Neil Hamilton.

Above Florence Rice speaking to Grady Sutton portraying "Dr. Piper", and sitting is John Beal.

Stills for this feature film are extremely hard to locate. Also, in the cast were:

Edward Norris portraying "Dr. Frank Blake", no picture available. Norris was just in the Binnie Barnes and Gilbert Roland Comedy Musical, 1941's "Angels with Broken Wings", and followed this motion picture with the Ray Milland, Paulette Goddard, 1942, "The Lady Has Plans".

Ward Bond had portrayed "Barney Millen", no picture available. Bond had just been in 1941's, "Manpower", starring Edward G. Robinson, Marlene Dietrich, and George Raft. He would follow this feature film with director John Huston's, 1941, "The Maltese Falcon".

Douglas Fowley
portrayed "Joe Grant", no picture available. Character actor Fowley would move to television and from 1955 through 1961, he portrayed "Doc Holliday", on Hugh O'Brien's, "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp", and from 1966 through 1967, Fowley was "Grandpa Hanks", on the forgotten television series, "Pistols 'n' Petticoats", starring 1940's actress Ann Sheridan.

The thin plot has "Dr, Sawyer" operating on "Diana Wayne", a major motor vehicle accident victim, he saves her life, but also falls in love with her. However, "Diana" is in love with one of "Sawyer's" partners, "Dr. Blake". Events proceed and "Blake" becomes involved with scarred gangster "Joe Grant". who wants plastic surgery and a new face. "Grant's" bodyguard "Barney Millen" is shot in a shake-down attempt and "Dr. Blake" tends to his wound and lies to the police that he was treating an acid burn. Meanwhile, "Dr. Sawyer" discovers everything.

In the mid to late 1940's, Herbert J. Yates wanted to raise the quality of "Republic Pictures" films and especially the studio's name. Around April-May 1947, producer Charles K. Feldman brought him what seemed the perfect motion picture idea and it came from Orson Welles. On June 23, 1947, Theodore and Howard Lydecker found themselves making special effects for William Shakespeare.

MACBETH premiered at the Venice, Italy, International Film Festival

Orson Wells
portrayed "Macbeth". He also directed, co-produced, and wrote the screenplay for the motion picture. He had just directed and starred in 1947's, "The Lady from Shanghai", co-starring Rita Hayworth. Welles would follow this production with 1949's, "Black Magic". My article, "Orson Welles: 1948 Through 1951 ('Macbeth', 'Count Cagliostro', 'Cesare Borgia', 'Bayan of the Hundred Eyes', and 'Othello')", is available for your reading at:


Jeanette Nolan portrayed "Lady Macbeth". This was stage actress Jeanette Nolan's first motion picture. She followed it, buried with fifteenth-billing, in MGM's big Hollywood Musical 1948's, "Words and Music".

Tightwad Herbert J. Yates gave Welles a estimated budget, on the high side, of $900,000, 1947 dollars. That is equal, at the time of this writing, to $12,275,186, 2023 dollars. 

The sets Yates provided came from "B" Cowboy movies. The costumes had to be rented from "Western Costume" and were from old 1930's Richard the Lionhearted films. 

"Republic Pictures" was still turning out "B" Westerns. many with Roy Rodgers, who had performed in a musical number with Vera Ralston, in 1944's, "Lake Placid Serenade", but also other forgotten "B' Cowboy's at the start of the 1950's. In the year 1950, a lone, the Lydecker Brothers worked on 31 "B" Westerns. 

Like the studio's formula Westerns, where the formula Crime dramas.

INSURANCE INVESTIGATOR released on March 23, 1951

Richard Denning portrayed "Tom Davison". Denning had just been in the Action-Adventure-Drama, 1951's, "Flame of Stamboul", from "Columbia Pictures", and he followed this picture with 1951's, "Secrets of Beauty" from "Hallmark Productions", not the card company but a fake name for the company "Hygienic Productions". My article, "Richard Denning: His Science Fiction and Horror Films", will be found at:


Audrey Long portrayed "Nancy Sullivan". Of her thirty-three roles, the one Long is remembered for is, fifth-billed "Clara Cardell", from the 1944 "B" "RKO" Western, "Tall in the Saddle", starring John Wayne and Ella Rains. 

John Eldredge portrayed "John Hammond". Although he would end up as the father in the television version of the popular family radio program, "Meet Corliss Archer", and a neighbor on "Leave It to Beaver", normally when you saw suave John Eldredge, you knew to be suspicious of him.

Hillary Brooke portrayed "Addie Wilson". Brooke was born Beatrice Sofia Mathilda Peterson and started on-screen acting in 1937, using the name Beatrice Schute, her married name at the time was Shute. Playing off "The Lone Ranger", was the "B" Western character of "The Lone Rider" from "PRC (Producers Releasing Corporation", Brooke's played different leading lady characters in that small series. In 1942, Hillary Brooke portrayed "Sally Musgrave", in "Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror", starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. She had twelfth-billing in the Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, 1943, "Jane Eyre". Right after this motion picture Hillary Brooke became a regular on televisions "The Abbott and Costello Show". The actress had portrayed "Captain Bonney" in 1952's, "Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kid", with Charles Laughter recreating his role of "Captain Kid". Fans of 1950's Science Fiction, know Hillary Brooke as the mother in the cult classic 1953's, "Invaders from Mars".

When a businessman takes out a double indemnity insurance policy and mysteriously dies shortly afterwards. The insurance company sends an undercover investigator to the small town the business man lived in.

My reader my not consider the following motion picture to have special effects created by the Lydecker Brothers, but who creates the rain? Again, special effects do not have to be eye-popping in the following Romance Comedy Drama.

THE QUIET MAN premiered in both Dublin, Ireland, and London England, on June 6, 1952

Herbert J. Yates wanted John Ford to make another cavalry movie, Ford wanted to make a motion picture in Ireland. The compromise was 1950's, "Rio Grande", and 1952's, "The Quiet Man".

John Wayne portrayed "Sean Thornton". Wayne had just co-starred with Robert Ryan in "RKO's", 1951, "The Flying Leathernecks". Next, he would team-up with his follow Republican and anti-Communist actor, James Arness, to make 1952's, "Big Jim McLain", with the two portraying investigators for the "House Committee on Un-American Activities".

Maureen O'Hara portrayed "Mary Kate Danaher". The actress had just co-starred in the Adventure feature, 1952's, "Kangaroo", and followed this picture by portraying pirate "Prudence 'Spitfire' Stevens", opposite Errol Flynn in 1952's, "Against All Flags".


Barry Fitzgerald portrayed "Michaleen Oge Flynn". Fitzgerald had just starred in a 1952, Italian motion picture. "Ha da veni...don Calogero (It Comes From...Don Calogero)", and followed this motion picture with a November 17, 1952 television appearance on the "Lux Video Theatre", "The Man Who Struck It Rich". 

Arthur Shields portrayed "Reverend Cyril Playfair". "The Quiet Man was that rare motion picture that Shields appeared with his older brother Barry Fitzgerald, who had dropped the last name of Shields. So, not to be in conflict with Arthur's stage career. Shields played the killer in 1957's, very good "Daughter of Dr. Jekyll", co-starring with John Agar and Gloria Talbott.

Ward Bond portrayed "Father Peter Lonergan". He had just been seen in 1951's, "On Dangerous Ground", starring Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan. Bond would next be seen, co-starring with Sterling Hayden, and Joan Leslie in the Western, 1952's, "Hellgate".

Victor McLaglen
portrayed "Squire 'Red' Will Danaher". Among McLaglen's early film work, it started in 1920, was portraying "Hercules", one of director Todd Browning's, 1925, "The Unholy Three", starring Lon Chaney, Sr. as the leader of the three, "Echo--the Ventriloquist". In 1935, McLaglen received the "Academy Award for Best Actor", in director John Ford's, "The Informer". 

Mildred Natwick portrayed "The Widow Sarah Tillane". Natwick started out as member of Orson Welles' "Mercury Theatre". Her first feature film was for director John Ford, 1940's, "The Long Voyage Home", by playwright Eugene O'Neil, and starring John Wayne and Thomas Mitchell. For Ford she was also seen in 1948's, "3 Godfathers", and 1949's, "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon". 

Francis Ford portrayed "Dan Tobin". John Ford's older brother at the end of his acting career had 495 roles. As a director, he directed 180 feature films, and as a writer, he wrote 31 motion pictures.

This Irish love story is simple, American boxer "Sean Thornton" returns to his birthplace of Inisfree, Ireland, which he has no memory of. He meets and falls in love with Irish lass, "Mary Kate Danaher", but runs afoul of her brother, "Squire 'Red' Will Danaher" and "Kate's" promised dowry and furniture.

For my last motion picture, I turn to what is described as an Adventure Crime Film-Noir.

LISBON released on August 17, 1956

The motion picture was entirely filmed in Portugal, making it the first motion picture shot there.
This was the third "Republic Pictures" feature shot in "Naturama", the studio's answer to "CinemaScope". The first had been Barbara Stanyck's, 1956 Western, "The Maverick Queen", and the second, 1956's, "Juvenile Jungle", "Republic Pictures" answer to both 1955's, "Blackboard Jungle", and "Rebel Without a Cause". The first had special effects by the Lydecker brothers, but the second, like many other features from the studio had no credit for special effects.

Ray Milland portrayed "Captain Robert John Evans", and also directed this motion picture. His 1953 through 1955 television series, "The Ray Milland Show", had just ended and Milland portrayed "Stanford White", co-starring in the Biographical Crime Drama, with Joan Collins and Farley Granger, 1955's, "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing". 

Maureen O'Hara portrayed "Sylvia Merrill". O'Hara just took the nude ride in 1955's, "Lady Godiva of Coventry". She followed this feature film with the 1956 Comedy, "Everything But the Truth", with John Forsythe.

Claude Rains portrayed "Aristides Mavros". The actor was in the middle of appearing on five different television appearances between the "Kraft Theatre" and "The Alcoa Hour". My article about his career is, " --- Claude Rains Was The Invisible Man ---", found at:


Yvonne Furneaux portrayed "Maria Madalena Massenet". French actress Furneaux portrayed "Jenny Diver", in the 1953 History Crime Musical, "The Beggar's Opera", with Sir Laurence Olivier portraying "Mack the Knife". She is perhaps best known to fans of "Hammer Films", in 1959, for portraying Peter Cushing's wife, "Isobel Banning", the reincarnated love, the "Princess Ananka", of Christopher Lee's "The Mummy". She followed that picture portraying "Emma" in Italian director Federico Fellini's, 1960, "La Dolce Vita (The Good Life)". For my interested readers, my article, "The Mummy (1932) vs The Mummy (1959) vs The Mummy (1999) vs The Mummy (2017)", may be excavated at:

Francis Lederer portrayed "Serafim". Lederer was born in Prague, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary. His acting brought him to the United States in 1933, being Jewish, he remained in America as the Nazi's rose in power and he became a U.S. Citizen in 1939.  In movies during the Second World War, he found himself playing Nazi's. His life is very interesting and is discussed in my article, "FRANCIS LEDERER the Forgotten 'DRACULA': A Stage and Film Actor's Life", at:


Three subplots come together on an alleged smugglers boat. "Sylvia Merrill" is upset over how long it is taking to rescue her husband, "Lloyd Merrill", portrayed by Percy Marmont, held a prisoner behind the "Iron Curtain".

Police Inspector "Joao Casimiro Fonesca", portrayed by Jay Novello, is investigating both boat owner "Captain Robert John Evans", and wealthy notorious Greek criminal "Aristides Mavros", as a possible smuggler.

"Mavros's" servant "Serafim" loves "Mavros's" secretary "Maria Madalena Massenet", who will have nothing to do with him. 

"Sylvia" offers "Aristides" a large sum of money to get her husband out from behind the "Iron Curtain". "Mavros" figures out that she is after his fortune. He off handedly mentions that after he is rescued and was to die. There would be clear proof of her claim to "Lloyd Merrill's" fortune. Otherwise, she would have to wait seven-years to settle his death within the court system without a body the lies somewhere behind the "Iron Curtain". 

"Aristides' hires "Evans" to go after "Lloyd Merrill". Meanwhile, "Sylvia" attempts to wrap "Robert John Evans" around her finger. However, "Captain Evans" is attracted to "Maria", who in turn is to him. "Seafirm" is sent on the boat to arrange an accident for "Lloyd" with witnesses.

Everything comes to a head on the boat after "Lloyd" is rescued, "Seafirm" attempts to kill "Lloyd" and "Evans", but in turn is killed. In a great night special effects sequence ending with a shot in "Serfirm's" stomach with a flare gun. "Fonesca" has an informer ready to identify the smuggler and believes it will be "Evans". Instead, the informer points at "Mavros" and the police inspector arrests him. "Maria" gets "John", while "Sylvia" is now stuck with her living husband.

Theodore Lydecker stopped working for "Republic Pictures" after working on the special effects for "This Man Is Armed", a Crime Drama Film-Noir starring Dane Clark, released on October 19, 1956.

Howard Lydecker
stopped working for "Republic Pictures" after working on the special effects for "Spoilers of the Forest", a  Adventure Drama Western starring Rod Cameron and Vera Ralston, released on April 5, 1957.

1n 1958, Herbert J. Yates was accused on promoting his wife Vera Ralston's movies for his own personal gain. This accusation appeared in the August 20, 1958's issue of the "Los Angeles Times"

On April 8, 1959, the "Wall Street Journal", ran a article entitled, "Republic Pictures Holders Urge President to Resign or Take a Pay Cut".

Then on July 8, 1959 it was over:

"Republic Pictures" would be reorganized, but the studio's days of making motion pictures were over. The studio and its television arm, "Consolidated Film Industries", became part of what would be called the new renamed, "Republic Corporations". 

Now working under the name Howard Lydecker went to the United Kingdom to work on the models and sea battles for two motion pictures.

SINK THE BISMARCK! premiered in London, England on February 11, 1960 and was released in the United States on the same date

Below is a photo of one of the actual models of the German battleship "Bismarck" as built by Howard C. Lydecker. Followed by the model in the motion picture.

H.M.S. DEFINT aka: DAMN THE DEFIANT premiered in London, England, on February 22, 1962

The following are some stills with the model ships designed and built by Howard Lydecker and his team.

On September 26, 1969, Theodore Lydecker passed away at age 69.

On May 25, 1990, Howard Lydecker passed away at age 81.

The following link will take my reader to a video of some of the Special Effects work of Theodore and Howard Lydecker, ENJOY! 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Jan Sterling: Lingerie - Fate - and a Motion Picture Career

Why Jan Sterling  wasn't considered an "A-List" actress is a riddle many film critics and historians still ask? This is a look...