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Captain Midnight: The Definitive Guide, Volume 1
The title character, originally Captain Jim “Red” Albright, was a World War I U.S. Army pilot. His Captain Midnight code name was given by a general who sent him on a high-risk mission from which he returned at the stroke of twelve. When the radio program began in 1938, Albright was a private aviator who helped people, but his situation changed in 1940 when the program was taken over by a new sponsor, Ovaltine, and the origin story explained how Albright was recruited to head the Secret Squadron, an aviation-oriented paramilitary organization fighting sabotage and espionage during the period prior to the United States’ entry into World War II. The Secret Squadron acted both within and outside the United States, combatting spies, saboteurs, mad scientists and repeated combats with the stock villain, Ivan Shark.
Radio premiums offered by the series (usually marked with Midnight’s personal symbol of a winged clock with the hands pointing to midnight) included decoders. These Code-O-Graphs were used by listeners to decipher encrypted messages previewing the next day’s episode, usually broadcast five-days-a-week. Other premiums included rings, telescopes, and World War II items.
The program aired for a decade until 1949. But that did not restrict the franchise potential just to the radio speakers. The popularity of the Captain Midnight character expanded in 1942 with a cliffhanger serial film, a syndicated newspaper strip, and a series of comic books. In 1954, a short-lived television program starring Richard Webb was produced by Screen Gems. For that rendition, Captain Midnight (now a veteran of the Korean War) heads the Secret Squadron as a private organization.
The show was known for the imaginative use of exciting technological advancements to create narrative thrills, inspiring young audiences to dream of future advances. Very little has been documented about the radio and television program beyond entries in encyclopedias. This two-volume set documents (in extreme detail) the majority of the radio broadcasts, with plot summaries and secret codes, along with the collectibles and giveaway premiums.
This is one of two volumes. Volume One primarily focuses on the origin of the character and the radio program including a detailed episode guide with plot summaries. Volume Two picks up where the first volume left off, primarily focusing on the collectibles and premiums, comic books, newspaper comic strip, 1942 cliffhanger serial and the television program.
In the weeks leading up to the theatrical release of KING KONG, executives at RKO purchased an unusual time slot for an eight-week radio serial, adapted from the screenplay. The studio made a daring move by giving away the entire plot of the movie before it was released. Eliminating the advertising agency, the studio hired stage actors in New York City to report to the radio studios at NBC, twice a week, to dramatize the epic that took place on an unchartered island and a monster rampage through the streets of New York City.
Recordings from that 1933 radio serial do not exist and until recently, the radio scripts were considered “lost” – a Holy Grail among radio researchers and fans of the horror classic. Recently discovered in the hands of a private collector, this book reprints scans of all 15 radio scripts from 1933, the complete run, along with bonus extras such as radio scripts for the April 1933 New York City and Hollywood movie premieres. Also included (and most important) is a history of the short-lived radio program. For fans of King Kong, this is a treasure.