Downtown Wichita Falls, Texas, in the mid 1940’s was a bustling metropolis for a boy of 7 just away from the farm and ranch community where he was born. My father, a cook and cowboy by trade, had just started as one of the first cooks for the Casa Manana restaurant in 1947. He moved us to an apartment on Ohio Street, right across from the Gem Theater, between 7th and 8th Streets. It’s here that we would stay for the next three years. The Gem Theater became a magic palace for a young mind. But it had to share that distinction with the rest of the magic that was Wichita Falls. I attended San Jacinto and Carrigan elementary schools, as well as Reagan Junior High, and belonged to the Boys Club on 6th Street. Please join, and share your stories and pictures through a Guest Blog, of early Wichita Falls - or your home town. Contact me at or leave a comment. We could use old pictures of movie houses, drive-in theaters, and other nostalgic pictures related to our youths.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Manhunt of Mystery Island

This weekend I watched Manhunt On Mystery Island. I was hoping to have the serial in time for the weekend, but my order was late coming in. But better late than never, right?

Manhunt On Mystery Island

This 15-chapter Republic serial from 1945 stars Linda Sterling and Roy Barcroft, with Richard Bailey (sometimes spelled Baily) in the lead roles. Clues lead a young couple to a Pacific Isle where the two find Mystery Island, hoping to rescue the girl’s father. He is a scientist being held prisoner by the evil Captain Mephisto, a pirate from 200 years ago. Mephisto uses a Transformer machine to travel forward in time and disguise himself as one of the four owners of Mystery Island.
Linda Sterling as Tigerwoman

During WWII many of the people involved in serials, including actors, were away from the studio, so lead actors were hard to find. Richard Bailey wasn’t an ideal action hero for the serials, though stunt doubles took care of the action. Linda Sterling was magnificent, as usual. She came to Bailey’s rescue more often than he to hers. And Roy Barcroft was one of the kings of the bad men in serials. Although in this part the character of Mephisto was a bit weak.
Linda Sterling In Zorro’s Black Whip

For some reason a lot of extra cliffhanger scenes from other Republic serials were used in this one, possibly to save writing more scenes. Vehicles going off cliffs, etc. But they weren’t used as the chapter ending, just somewhere within the chapter. It was a fun serial, though possibly lacked some zip due to Richard Bailey, but he tried. He just wasn’t the heroic leading man like, say Clayton Moore.
Roy Barcroft As Captain Mephisto

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