All right then, tonight’s feature is called “Planet Outlaws” and it has Buster Crabbe in it, so I bet it has been cobbled together from Buck Rogers TV episodes, much like those Rocky Jones things we watched a while back. So be it!
And we get some nice background art and dramatic music and sure enough, we’re told this is “Revised version based on cartoon strip ‘Buck Rogers’ by Harry Jaques Revier." Then we get a credit for “Narrative” (Helen Leighton), “Compiled by” (Renault Revier and Joseph Sorbera) “Story and Screenplay” (Norman S. Hall and Ray Trampe). So lots of folks labored over this so we can make fun of it, never lose sight of that fact!
And the film proper opens with a headline, “Jets Chase D.C. Sky Ghosts” which sounds more awesome than the subtitle, “Senate Probers Sift City Funds” but that’s journalism for you, yes? The next headline is “Jets to Shoot Down Saucer,” then “Jets to Hunt Sky Saucers” which you would think would be necessary to do first if they were to shoot them down afterwards.
Fade to black, but not to actual movie. We get a “Foreword” which is read out loud to us. “From somewhere in the skies above us have come, from time to time, flaming discs and [other] weird phenomena. What are they? Whence have they come? Dr. Maurice [A.] Biot, one of the leading aerodynamists in the world, stated that in his opinion they have originated elsewhere than the earth, and that they are artificially controlled.”
Finally, we cut to actual movie footage as we see our previous narrator speaking into his ham radio kit. “Yes, they could be craft from another planet, or a development of enemy power.” He blathers on. We see stock footage of politicians arguing and looking concerned and stuff. The radio man says we shouldn’t dismiss this as science fiction, because Jules Verne once wrote about exploring the ocean, and now we have submarines, so anyone who writes anything might be totally on the level.
Mr. Radio talks about flying machines and atomic bombs as well, and how we have all those things now that were once fictional dreams. He turns his attention to space travel and how that will be common someday.
Enough of that, we tune in as a zeppelin is flying over some frozen landscape. Inside, a guy is shouting to “Buddy” how they’re going to crash, and Buddy duly relates this over the radio to a group of concerned men elsewhere. He also names the yelling person as “Buck” so there we are. And the miniature—I mean, the zeppelin—crashes on the snowy mountain landscape. It’s quickly buried under an avalanche.
The narrator notes how “centuries later” men from “a scouting ship” discover the wrecked zeppelin and the two folks on board, who were “in a perfect state of preservation” so that’s good then. Both these scouts are dressed pretty futuristically, and they have ray guns as well. One scout notes how one of the bodies is pretty warm to the touch, and the other says, “Let’s get them out of here, this gas is making me drowsy.” Hey, that’s my line!
Fade to a quick shot of a futuristic vehicle speeding along—a very quick shot—then inside, Buddy wonders to Buck “how fast” they’re going. Well, too fast for me—I’d have liked to see the ship a bit longer.
The scout guys report to the base that they’re approaching the city, and they’ve got two “prisoners” that they found in a dirigible. The radio voice informs them that this is impossible, as dirigibles are so old school they totally can’t be here in the future. Scout guy notes how the prisoners were in a state of suspended animation. They are ordered to bring those folks directly to the radio voice. And we get a better look at the flying ship. It’s pretty cool.
The ship lands in some rather forbidding looking rocky, mountainous area. Inside some future place, Buddy and Buck are brought to some lab, where some old guy looks them over. He gives some orders to a “Lieutenant Deering” who is a woman, and I remember that name. I think she’s the love interest. We’ll see.
Buck mentions that they were going around the world in 1938, and Old Guy says “Impossible!” and goes to look this up in his giant volume of facts. He asks their names and discerns that this may indeed be some kind of suspended animation thing. He tells them (and us) that they’ve awakened 500 years in the future. Everyone gets a chance to remark, via various remarks, about how remarkable this is.
Just then, Lt. Deering pipes up to note that “Killer Kane” (boy, he sounds like trouble!) has captured “another one of our satellites!” and everyone rushes off to look at this hooliganism. Old Guy turns on a screen which shows a pretty impressive futuristic city, then it shows Killer Kane
He looks kind of like some mean Mexican guy. He has a mustache and a lot of barely kempt hair. He’s interrogating some guy he’s probably captured from a satellite. “You may save yourself considerable discomfort,” he says, “by telling me where to find the entrance to the hidden city.” I almost expect him to pop on a large hat and say he needs no “steenkin badges.”
”I do not remember,” says Mr.
”I think I know a way to make you remember,” Kane says, then he rises and gestures for his thugs to bring Mr. Satellite Man along. We watch on the viewscreen as Killer Kane activates his own viewscreen—making this metatextual—and Killer Kane shows Mr. Satellite Man a view of some guys loading stuff into places. Killer Kane mentions that these folks were all pilots once, “now they are living robots.” He goes on to note that wearing a robot helmet will make Mr. Satellite Man a robot too, so he’d better remember where that entrance is. But Mr. Satellite Man is made of sterner stuff, and he repeats his memory-loss excuse. Then the signal fades.
Buck avers how he doesn’t understand. “Who is this man called Killer Kane?”
”He is the result of the stupidity of the men of your century,” Old Man says. “You failed to stamp out lawlessness, and in the end, the criminal became stronger than the law. Racketeers, you called them. Today, they rule the world as cruelly as they ruled their gangs in your day.”
Buck and Old Guy talk about what might help in this situation, and Old Guy mentions how another planet’s people might help, but no one can slip through Kane’s net to go to this other planet and then find this possible help. Buck is impressed that the technology is there anyway. We cut quickly to Buck explaining to the Big Boss that they could send up a “radio controlled” plane, and Kane would follow that plane, and Buck could slip through and go to Saturn. Big Boss is less than impressed, noting how they’ve already lost some ships.
Old Guy says this is the last hope, so Big Boss capitulates and assigns Lt. Deering to accompany Buck and try to talk to the Saturn people. And everyone is dismissed.
And the mountain side opens, and the radio ship pops out and flies up, and the Kane guys follow it. So, does this mean they actually know where the hidden city is hidden? I mean, they were right there and everything. And then Buck and Company follow after at a discrete distance and are able to escape from the Kane patrols.
The Kane boys kill the radio ship, and Buck pronounces that that should be the end of their troubles. He says that Wilma (Lt. Deering) can take a nap, and she goes off to do so. Buck takes the controls. Soon they get to Saturn. Buck notes how the atmosphere is totally thick here, but look out, someone shoots at them!
Wilma pops up then wanting to know what is going on. Turns out some of Kane’s boys followed them and they are the ones doing the shooting. We listen in as Kane’s boys note how they should slow down, as no one would dare just fly right into Saturn’s thick clouds.
But Buck’s ship gets shot, right in the engine! So they start going down! The ship is falling apart, but they all get into the lower part and jump off the ship, and this works, believe it or not! The ship crashes and explodes, but the three land with their invisible parachutes. It is noted how the place looks desolate.
Above, Kane’s boys decide to land so they can keep being mean, while Lt. Deering (Wilma) calls Earth to ask for some help. She reports how they’re all okay, but we see Kane’s boys landing their ships just fine, despite all the thickness noted earlier. So are all of the Kane people always kidding about everything? Sheesh, what cards. Anyway, Wilma spots them sneaking around, and she very cleverly tells Buck without reacting in a panic or anything. I bet they come up with a clever plan!
Well, whatever plan Wilma and Buck came up with didn’t work, since all three are soon captured. They’re led back to the Kane spaceship. Unless it was a clever ruse. Which it might have been, but just when everyone is aboard the Kane ship, some strange folk show up and demand that weapons be dropped. Weapons are dropped.
These new people have an Asian leader, and followers who wear masks. The leader asks if they’re from Earth, and Buck says yes. Mr. Asian says explanations are useless, so he brings Buck, Buddy and Wilma and the Kane Boys to see the king of Saturn. This is sure getting complicated! And we need more action, please. Thanks in advance!
The king of Saturn wants some explanations and he wants them right away. Both Buck and the Chief Kane Guy move forward, but Buck glares at the Kane Guy and he shuts up. Buck mentions how they came here as “envoys, seeking an alliance with Saturn.”
King of Saturn asks why, and Buck busts out the whole “repressed by Killer Kane” thing, but Chief Kane Guy says that just isn’t so, that Kane is liked by everyone, a lot, and only a “few revolutionaries” say different. The word “revolutionaries” sets up a stir among the Saturn folks, I’m here to tell you.
The Saturn King says he should throw them all into prison, because the Saturn people think peace is awesome and should be what rules everything, and all these new folks are obviously into rowdyism. Chief Kane Guy says, if you hate rebels, why not join with us because we hate rebels too! Well, Buck thinks this is just awful all around. So when he gets the opp, he grabs a gun and threatens the leaders (and everyone) while advising Buddy and Wilma to escape. “Seize him!” shouts the King.
Buck, Budd and Wilma run away and get into a future tram, which takes them to where they can escape some more. They get to an open area where the Kane ships are parked, and they grab one of them and take off. Some bad guys shoot at them, but it doesn’t matter and they’re heading back to Earth, which we soon see as a globe.
Well…way to go, Buck. Rather than reason that the rebels were on the right side, you pissed off the Saturn council of wise guys and now they’re on Kane’s side. I hope you’re not putting this into your “Triumphs” column.
On Earth, Old Guy and Big Boss note that the returning ship is one of Killer Kane’s models. They’re concerned about this. So they go to call the ship to see if it is full of nice folk or nasty people. They send a “Hello” type message.
But onboard the Kane Kruiser, Wilma says it’s not necessary to call anyone because she knows the secret entrance, so they’ll just go there and everything will be okay. Uh…this doesn’t sound smart. Don’t start penciling in your “Triumphs” column either, Wilma. Unless you have an eraser.
Sure enough, Big Boss says the only explanation is that Wilma and Buck (and Buddy!) must have betrayed them all. So the signal is sent to open the gates, but as soon as Buck and Company are almost inside, the Instant Close signal is sent, and the Kane ship is crushed between the gates! Oh no! Oh dear! Aaaaaa! Will Buck and Company survive? We’re just 21 minutes in so I don’t think we’re done! Except for tonight! We’re done for now! Later, then! How long is this feature? Oh dear!
Well, it turns out that aside from having crap dropped on them, Buck and Company are A-OK if not any wiser. They struggle out of the debris while Big Boss and Old Guy maintain alertness and…other things they mutter. (I’m sure we’ll find out.)
Buck, Buddy and Wilma leave the ship, and, uh, offscreen somehow, guards capture them and bring them to Old Guy and Big Boss, who accept all the explanations without any reservation. Whew! They go to discuss the Saturn foul-up, though Buck says the Saturn people “turned against” them and generally, tries to put the best face on the mess.
Meanwhile, on Saturn, the Wise Guys say that tyranny has to be opposed like crazy, so they’re going to sign a treaty with a guy named Killer Kane, though they are going to send the Japanese guy to Earth to make sure all the facts are actual facts and not made up ones. If it’s all on the up and up, Saturn will abide by the treaty. And it’s all based on Japanese guy’s word. Was this made before or after WWII? (That might be a factor.)
So, Captain Japanese and Chief Kane Guy prepare to leave for Earth and Chief Kane Guy says he’s full of thanks and stuff. And they go to Earth so as to complicate the plot. And everyone salutes and we fade to Captain Japanese getting on board the Evil Rocket, and Chief Kane Guy saying “I think our troubles with Dr. Huer are about over.” Oh, that’s good to hear! I hope. Who was he, again?
Back on Earth, Buck wants to look at some astral signals to see if they are the Killer Kane ships he has been promised would be popping by. The universe yawns when this happens, although it might have just been me.
Anyway, it’s confirmed through the confirm-o-scope that it’s a Killer Kane ship and thus a sign of Killer Kane’s continued success. Buck wonders if there are spies amongst the Killer Kane folks, but Wilma says they were all caught and turned into robots. Buck says they probably have some uniforms from the crushed ship they all arrived in, and he’d like to put on one and be a spy. Everyone says this is futile. But Buck convinces them that he can find out all about the treaty with the Saturn guys. (Or maybe he just wants to point some more guns at people.) Everyone finally yields to Buck. Man, that ate up about two minutes of screen time. Thank god!
Jump through a couple of jump cuts, and Buck and Buddy are dressed as evil guys (though their pilot isn’t) and he asks which condo is Killer Kane’s, and he is pointed to the one “with the terraces” (which we see). They circle this for a while…nothing suspicious in that, no way…and Buck and Buddy jump out with their “gravity belts” (invisible parachutes). Wee, yay.
Some guard notices them landing, but I guess he made a rest stop or something first, because we see Buck telling Buddy “Act natural” and suddenly we’re in the presence of Killer Kane. His “patience is at an end” in case you were keeping score. He says that the treaty from Saturn “pleases me” so Buck tells Buddy to grab another gravity belt.
Kane asks for the assembled folks to sign the treaty, but Buck appears and tells Kane the jig is up. He calls for his guards, but Buck death-rays them to death. (Told you.) He then tells Captain Japanese that he’s going to show him just why Killer Kane is called Killer Kane. Kane says that if Buck “persists in this folly” his men will “kill” Buck. (Buck’s origin is nicely summarized by Captain Japanese.)
Buck tells Kane and Captain Japanese to go to the big television. Buddy will keep the other assembled old people covered with his death ray. On the big TV, Kane is ordered to show the “dynamo room” with all the human robots. Well, Captain Japanese is sure convinced that he's been all wrong about Killer Kane being a nice guy, and he asks to “treat” with Buck’s leaders.
Kane says they’ll all be arrested before they can leave, but Buck gives Captain Japanese the spare belt, and they’ll escape with it (not before Buck explains the belt to the perplexed Saturnian). And Captain Japanese and Buddy jump out the window. Buck goes to follow but when his back is turned, he gets jumped on and captured! Not really, he just gets away like the others. But Kane is sure mad about it, threatening to make all these old people council folk into robots.
And some guards have searchlights. And…
Well, we cut back to Wilma, Old Guy and Big Boss, and they’re reassigning ships. Oh good. They decide to search for Buck, Buddy and whoever else there might be. Wilma is put in charge. And soon she’s flying, and more ships are flying.
And back in
Some bad guy whose last name is (I’m sure in sheer coincidence)
He returns to where the old guys are settling back into their chairs. “And you are the men I made counselors of Earth,” he sneers. “I would be better served by this Buck Rogers, who walked through your men as if they were children.”
One guy with a pretty clear death wish says to Kane, “I noticed you didn’t capture
”Kranko, I warn you…another statement like that and you will go before the firing squad!” Kane weakly ripostes. Me, I’d have death-rayed him right then and there, but I’m known to be harsh. He then threatens them all with the same fate and orders everyone out of the super chamber.
And we cut to Buck and company in flight. He estimates they are about 600 miles from where they need to be.
”I wouldn’t exactly call Dr. Huer handsome,” Buddy says, “but I sure would give a lot to see his face right now.”
”I bet you would, Buddy,” Buck says, and everyone laughs. Maybe Dr. Huer is Old Guy, or Big Boss. I…I can’t make myself care. Buck gives Captain Japanese the unsigned treaty, and the Captain says he (Buck) should come back to Saturn some day to get some proper thanks for preventing this bad alliance.
Just then, they see a bunch of ships ahead. They’re good guy ships, though. But we cut to the folks aboard those ships, and they start talking about how they should shoot down this ship and pronto! Because it’s Killer Kane’s ship! Duh!
Here we go again.
Sure enough, they get shot at (by Wilma herself!) and decide to land to show they’re friendly. Okay then--I'm sure that'll work. “First time I saw Killer Kane’s ship give up so easily,” says the pilot guy, which should be a clue, maybe. Buck, Buddy and Captain Japanese land and walk out with their arms in the air.
So Wilma lands…a little awkwardly, but any landing you can walk away from, which she does—anyway, they’re on the ground now too. Buck and Company of course walked away from the downed rocket, the better to be shot at by panicky troops, I guess.
But Buck and Company walk right up to Wilma and Company and it’s all straightened out. “I’m so glad that was not a direct hit,” Wilma says. Introductions are made all around, and Captain Japanese is introduced to the hand-shake. Buck says they’ll follow in Kane’s ship.
Soon enough, Captain Japanese is being introduced to the leading lights of the freedom-liking guys, Old Guy and Big Boss, by Buck himself. Oh, and I suppose Dr. Huer is in there, too. Whoever he is, anyway. Just so you can have names, here there are: Captain Japanese is Prince Talon, Big Boss is Air Marshall Craig, and Old Guy is Dr. Huer after all. Do you think I’m going to change now?
Prince Talon says he’s going to sign the treaty, but everyone says he should see the people around here first, to see if they’re worthy of the treaty. And a jump cut later, literally in the next scene, Wilma is being interrupted in the lab to be told she should contact Saturn and tell them the treaty’s been signed, and Saturn should be told they should prepare for war (with Killer Kane). Wilma starts to make the call.
And over in Killer Kane’s meeting room, Killer Kane’s day is not getting any brighter for him. He’s hearing the report of how
One guy with a goatee says to Kane, “We brought it on ourselves! You should have taken my advice!” which was to stop when Kane had “enough” and now his greed has gotten them all into trouble.
“Since you are so clever,” Kane sneers, “you shall take a spaceship to Saturn and arrange a treaty with her people before Talon has time to report back!”
“I refuse!” shouts the soon-to-be-deathrayed guy as he jumps to his feet. “I will not be a tool for your insane ambitions!”
Well, Killer Kane shows he can leap to his feet just as effectively, and he does so, reminding Goatee (why is he still alive?) that he, Kane, is in command. He orders Goatee to be brought to the
Huh. Microsoft Word thinks “robotized” is a real word. Um…is it?
Anyway, Kane goes to his viewscreen and watches as Goatee is robotized. Some guys ask if Goatee has any last words, and as the Hat of Robotization is placed on his head, he says to tell Kane that he’ll escape, but his words drift off. He looks totally like he’s really into Metallica now.
“One more dead mind in the ranks of the leader’s enemies,” the guard notes. In the background, another robotized guy is carrying a giant screw.
Kane turns and gives a look of total smugness to the remaining folks in his meeting room. Who wants to bet the next person won’t turn down the Saturn job? He asks if anyone else feels the same way Goatee did, and everyone kind of stares at the table like those please-don’t-call-on-me-please-don’t-call-on-me-please-don’t-call-on-me guys from high school.
He calls over the guy who failed to capture Buck Rogers and Company and tells him that, since he’s a kindly ruler, he’s going to spare his life. All he has to do is fly to Saturn and do what Goatee refused to do, and if Random Guard guy (who’s going to play a bigger role in this than I thought, sigh) succeeds, he can take Goatee’s place at the Consul table.
Back in the
Oh, sorry, he means because Killer Kane would shoot down any rockets. Sorry for jumping on Big Bosses like that, it’s just, you know, so tempting. Anyway, we’re told (by a guy who looks like Gomer Pyle from the Future) that Killer Kane has doubled all patrols, so any non-Kane ships would be shot to flinders. To flinders, I tell you!
Old Guy says, though, that he’s been working on an experiment that might help. He says, oh, it’s not quite done and I was hoping to show it in a more flattering light, but “it may serve our purpose.” He takes everyone over to a big window to demonstrate his new thing…which looks like a huge gun. He tells everyone to keep an eye on one of the ships they have parked in the Hidden City Parking Lot, and they all look at it, and Old Guy shoots it with a buzzing ray that turns the ship invisible! He warns folks not to step in front of the beam, because “it may take some time” for objects so rayed to become visible again. Hm, I smell a ship becoming visible again at the worst possible time.
But anyway, Buck (wearing Flash Gordon clothing) has to be explained to that the ship isn’t destroyed, it’s invisible. This takes longer than what I’ve typed. You’re welcome. The main thing we learn is that the invisibility only lasts for ten minutes “at most” (uh oh).
So, Big Boss goes to Gomer Pyle of the Future and tells him to ready the rocket launch stuff, while Buck, Prince Talon and Wilma all prepare to go into a rocket that will become invisible before their very eyes, just like it did for us a few moments back. Some beefy guys of the future place the Invisibility Gun in place. Also, some “retarding rockets” are loaded into place. “You’ll be pretty much on your own when you reach Saturn,” Big Boss says, then we cut away to the mountain opening up, and the (still visible) ship launching into the air. Cutting it kind of fine, eh, Old Guy?
Man, I have to say, these buzzing ships with their sparkler drive still look pretty cool. They’re not convincing at all, but they have major geek cred. Anyway, they’re launching visible and will tell Old Guy when they spot some Kane ships…of which, five have just popped up on the viewscreen. Oops! Or is that Yikes! I never know, myself….
So, Buck calls Old Guy and tells him he should whip up on the invisibility stuff, straight away. On board the Kane main ship, one guy says to hold fire until…well, until Buck escapes. Oh come on, that’s not a spoiler! I think the guy ordering is Random Guy from the earlier scene. Maybe, or maybe not.
Beefy guys stand by as Old Guy aims the Invisible Gun. Luckily, Old Guy is a crack shot and the Buck Ship turns invisible. Of course, the Kane guys see this too, so I’m not sure it helped a whole lot. Kane Guy says the ships should spread out and try to find this now invisible ship. Yeah, how many different places could it be going? Hint: treaty with Saturn.
The ships peel off from formation in totally unbelievable but pretty lovable ways. Just then the Buck ship becomes visible again. Hey, that wasn’t ten minutes! Um, thank you though. It does appear that the Buck ship got through the blockade okay.
And we fade to Saturn shooting toward us, and then the Buck Ship landing back on Saturn. Buck is all happy about this, but who wants to bet that Killer Kane’s Random Guy got there first? Hello?
Well, I guess no one cares, because we cut back to Buck, Wilma and Prince Talon saying, in essence, “Well that’s about it,” and how they have to return to Earth now. One Big Heap Saturn Boss says, “Well, I realize your need for haste.” Right next to him is a guy wearing the Hat of Robotization. Just saying. So, Prince Talon takes Buck and Wilma back to their spaceship so they can go back home and fight some more against Killer Kane. And will Saturn be a good and true ally on this field of battle? I dunno, how much running time do we have left?
Well, the music is kind of triumphal, as Prince Talon leads Buck and Wilma across the matte paintings to their ship. And all three get on board and start the launching sequence. But, and I really hate to tell you this…we’re not even 45 minutes in.
Oh, stop crying! Please! And stop that awful moaning, it just wakes up the neighbors and puts them in a foul mood!
Well, anyway, Buck tries to use the radio to call the Earth, and he gets through, amazingly enough. He asks if the “disolvo” ray is any further perfected, and is told, no, not really. So he’s going to fly back to Earth and hope to slip through the Kane blockade. Prince Talon pipes up and notes that there’s nothing to keep Buck and Wilma on Saturn any more. Buck says, no, not really, they’ll radio their battle plans to Saturn when they get back to Earth. So everyone salutes and Prince Talon leaves. Oh, the suspense! What stupid thing will Buck and Wilma forget to do this time, so they’re almost destroyed by the good guys! And what happened to Random Guy! And why was the Saturn King wearing a Robot Hat? Well, maybe we’ll get lucky and learn it all pretty quickly so we won’t suffer a lot.
Well, the ship takes off impressively. Old Guy tells the assembled Gomer Pyles that they need to be ready to turn the ship invisible right away, and they all say they’ll do so, yes sir!
Fade to Killer Kane in his Consul room again. He is assuming that Random Guy failed in his mission to make an alliance with Saturn. So he’s going to send another mission to try and do the same thing, because—but he gets a call on his audio-scope, which tells him an “unidentified spaceship” is returning from Saturn. He asks to be kept informed. Wow, how dictatorial! I mean, come on, he must know this is Buck, or at least someone not allied with him (Kane)? Why doesn’t he just order the stupid thing death-rayed?
Because, as it turns out, he thinks this might be Random Guy on the way back. (Rolls eyes.) “We’ll make no move until we learn more,” Kane says, before he adjourns the meeting. So…why would one of his ships be “unidentified”? Wouldn’t Random Guy radio Kane ASAP about his success? Man, Killer Kane, you are a wide-eyed idiot.
Aboard the sparking, smoking Kane ships, they’re on alert about this ship returning from Saturn and all. So some of them descend lower so’s they can get a good look.
On board the Buck ship, Buck asks Wilma for some more “retarding rockets.” Say, Buck, aren’t you over the legal limit for those? He calls Old Guy and asks for readiness on the disolvo ray. But it turns out Kane’s Guys have seen the ship already, so Buck asks for the ray now, okay? And Old Guy shoots the ray, and yep, Buck’s ship turns invisible.
The Kane Guys are totally baffled. But no matter, we jump cut a bit, and Buck is already landed safely and telling some other folks they should get a whole bunch of information from this ship. Uh…I'm going to guess, because it is one of their own ships, and they…um, don’t know about their own ships, uh…oh, never mind. Just go with it, okay? Damn splices.
Okay, I must have totally missed something here. I guess Buck Rogers’ original ship to Saturn must have been DESTROYED in a FIERY PAROXYSM of HUGELY ENTERTAINING SPECIAL EFFECTS, that we didn’t get to see, and he had to steal a Killer Kane Space Sedan, so that’s all the talk about learning from this ship. Because one lone Gomer goes on board to start this learning, and a bad guy was hiding in the Space Closet, and he came out of the closet and decked the good guy! I bet this is Random Guy. Though it might be Dr. Huer. No wait, that’s…that’s crazy talk!
He quickly takes the Gomer’s uniform off. Why, that rascal! Elsewhere, Buck, Wilma and Buddy meet Big Boss, and he’s all happy to see them alive, as he thought they were dead! He takes them to see Old Guy, where Buck relates the fact that the Saturnians are totally behind the good guys and will attack when the signal is given. They go off to convene the War Council.
Fade out, and fade in as some Gomer is relieving another Gomer on gramophone duty. (There’s one right there.) They chit-chat a bit about the new P-38, and how maybe this is another drill. Bad Guy sneaks out of the rocket, all dressed as a Good Guy. The rotten cad! The bounder! He does rile my dander!
He sneaks into the Gramophone Room and makes the Gomer go into another room. Then he calls Killer Kane and tells him that he’s in the
We see a shot of this, just in case we had our doubts. Bad Guy is a cad, after all! Plus a bounder.
Big Boss goes to the gate control, but Bad Guy whops him with the gun, and
But I guess he only stunned him, because he’s rolling around clutching his eyes. Big Boss recovers and smashes in the head of Bad Guy, and closes the gates just as the squadron ships are trying to get in! Most of them explode on the mountainside, but two of them get in and make nice landings in the spaceport thing.
The four bad guys get out and say, “We’ve got to work fast!” as Big Boss orders troops to the spaceport. (Geez, Microsoft Word. “Spaceport” is okay, but “viewscreen” isn’t?) But they’re quickly captured. Wow, that was almost exciting. Bad Guy is tossed in with them.
And we cut to the next day, with the War Council in full session. Buck Rogers is suggesting they attack right away, because Killer Kane now knows where the secret entrance is.
Yes, he does. Why hasn’t he done anything since sending the one squad? He could at least set up some guards to shoot down anything that emerged from the gates, and…oh, man, I’m tired. This Killer Kane guy is more like a Killer Klown.
Anyway, everyone agrees that striking now is the best thing they should do, so, they should contact Saturn for help, because Buck Rogers said it, and he’s Buck Rogers, for crying out loud!
So, everyone who’s anyone goes to Old Guy’s lab. And they discover that…the receiver that Buck left on Saturn, to facilitate communication, is dead, so they can’t send any messages. Oh man, this is just making me exhausted. I suppose this means another "close call" trip to Saturn to bring the message personally. Oy vey. (Microsoft Word things “Oy” is misspelled but “vey” is just fine.)
Sure enough, that’s the damned plan.
Well, close. He can install more rocket-racks. This will make it work, but it won’t be comfortable. Old Guy goes off to do this. Buck says he’ll be ready when the ship is, and Wilma pipes up about how he shouldn’t go alone. Sigh. And I bet Buddy will go too.
Well, it’s implied that they both will have to stay behind, but we cut to Buddy sneaking on board. Buck boards, saying he wishes he could have seen Buddy. “He’s probably very busy at something or other,” someone states. Wow. Goodbyes are exchanged all around and Buck gets inside and closes the door.
Let me just note, because the film takes pains to do so, that Buck is holding his right arm very awkwardly, because it was injured by the Bad Guy’s ray blast. I’m sure Buddy will come in handy because of this.
Well, the Kane ship takes off and flies through the mountain gates, and a bunch of Kane ships see it. They were gonna blast it, but they see it’s another Kane ship, so they decide not to blast it. But they call Buck on the Kane-o-Phone, and he says he’s got extra special super secret stuff for Kane’s ears only, so they all leave him alone.
And there’s actually a pretty neat shot of Buck’s Kane ship veering off one way, while the patrol ships veer off in a different direction. Not convincing or realistic, but pretty cool anyway. Buck, working the ship with one hand, says, “Okay, Buddy. You can come out anytime you want, now.” See? He was never fooled. Ha ha ha.
There’s a bit of banter, but who cares at this point, and soon enough we see Saturn loom ahead in the night sky, just like we saw it before.
Fade, and soon enough, back in the Council of Wise Guys, Buck Rogers says, “Aldar, you will not save Prince Talon by accepting Kane’s terms. Once he’s here on Saturn, he will kill your prince, and enslave your people.”
You know, I just got the feeling we missed a whole chunk of something. Like Prince Talon being kidnapped, for one, and what Buck and Buddy are clutching in their fists, for another. Oh well.
“Gentlemen,” Buck goes on, “you’re dealing with the vilest type of crime known to man. Kidnapping. Why, we’ve fought it on Earth for centuries. Men capable of such a crime are without honor. Their words are worthless, and Killer Kane is the foulest of the lot. Why, your own experience with him should tell you that I speak the truth. Surely you must see that a treaty with Killer Kane will result only in your prince’s death, and the subjugation of your people.”
At this point, with the Wise Guys shifting uneasily, some Wise Guy to the right of the Chief, or Wisest Guy, says, “May I who first suggested surrender, now withdraw my plea. Let us abide by our treaty with the people of the
The Wisest Guy turns to the guy on the left, and he says, yeah, sure, war sounds good.
Then we cut back to Wilma and Old Guy, because, well, we haven’t had anyone shoot at Buck in a while, so this gives another chance for that. Because I’d like to think he’s on his way back now with good news from Saturn.
Well, I jumped the gun, there, because the actual order was for all planes assigned to “Battle Plan B” should take off immediately. Which they do. Then, we cut to Buck and Buddy, noting how there’s no one at Killer Kane’s house to guard it, so they land there, having, um, gotten back from Saturn during a splice storm…damn these stupid splices or whatever! Argh! Oh dear!
Buck and Buddy disembark, note the direction of the “dynamo room” and head toward said room. This turns out to be the robot room, and Buck and Buddy overpower the one guard there. Buck points out Goatee amongst the robot workers. Buck then says, “If we can get him loose, I have an idea he’ll help us to get even.” He pokes the captured guard and tells him to call down to have Goatee sent upstairs. Will this be another stupid move for Buck, or will the guard do it? I’ve paused the film so you can all vote!
Turns out Captured Guard does what he’s told. And Goatee heads up to the balcony where Buck, Buddy, and Guard are to be found. He slowly climbs the ladder. And his robot hat is removed, and he’s totally with the idea of busting a cap in Killer Kane’s…behind. Ha! Thought you’d caught me, didn’t you?
Buck removes the robot part from the robot hat, and tells Goatee to put it back on so he can free more robots to use against Kane. “That’ll be a real pleasure!” says Goatee. And he puts the now safe robot hat back on, and returns to his *ha ha ha* slave duties. And slowly goes back down the ladder. And takes off a few robot hats and calms the guys, but you know what had to happen, the guard guy had to cause trouble, and a big fight ensues. But don’t worry, please, don’t worry! The good guys win and the robots are all turned into non-robots.
After rather a long stretch of fighting, yes, but still.
And we cut to Killer Kane telling his assembled flunkies, “Now that we know the secret entrance to the
The phone call is from some Kane guy who says they’ve already lost “a third” of the available ships to attacking
They all go to some other room, but as the door opens, Buck, Buddy and some non-robots flow into the room! Buck holds a gun on Kane, who is all startled and such by this brazen display. He hands his gun to Buddy, tells Goatee to hold Kane’s arms, and puts a fully operational robot hat on Kane. Kane doesn’t like this, but he’s pretty slack-jawed almost immediately. And…
And we cut to some guy reading stuff on the radio. Yes, it’s our friend Mr. Radio from the beginning of this film! Dare we hope that his appearance means…but let’s not spoil it. Let him speak!
“And that, my friends, finishes the story of Killer Kane, the man who wanted to conquer the world. No less ruthless, no less cunning, no less a danger to civilization than the very real enemy which threatens the world today. Let us hope that the scientists of the free world devise the weapons and the craft that will make democracy invincible against any enemy. God bless
And the triumphal music heralds the fact that this is, in fact, the end.
Admittedly, I don't have a whole lot of experience with serials, but the ones I've seen tend to have a great deal of repetition in them. My theory is that this is so if you miss a chapter, you'll still be able to follow the story when you watch the next. You might miss a fistfight or two, but the whole "bad guy menaces, good guys try to stop him" arc maintains its overall balance without any real advances one way or the other. In other words, very little "story" occurs outside the first and last episodes of serials, although lots of stuff happens. If you watched this particular film in all its serial glory, you could watch chapters one, two, eleven and twelve and get pretty much the whole story.
It does seem, though, that they managed to cram in every event that the serial contained in about one-third the size. Does this make it more exciting? Well, no. It largely makes the repetition more evident. Let's fly to Saturn! Let's fly back! Let's fly again to Saturn, because the phone's out! And so on. Just having a lot of action doesn't mean the film is interesting, really. Admittedly, I've seen things far worse than this. Admittedly, as well, it has a certain charm to it, despite its dramatic shortcomings. Honestly, though, at the end of the day I'd say give this one a pass. Unlike Rocky Jones, who had thirty minute television episodes to cobble together, Buck had only fifteen minute serial chapters, each of which had to have a cliffhanger. Rocky could take his time and have things develop; Buck couldn't, being constrained by the chase-stasis-cliffhanger formula.
I'm not sure it would be possible to make this better, though I can't help thinking one fewer trip to Saturn, with maybe footage of Prince Talon being captured and all that, might have given it a greater variety and thus, some more entertainment value. Who knows? I'm sure this kept kids glued to the television in the 1960's. One of those kids might have been me. I do remember those spaceships.
Thus in the long run, I do have to give props to the film for those spaceships. The grinding buzz they make when they fly, shooting sparks like fireworks...that's just so cool, and so evocative of the innocent entertainment of a long bygone era. I could probably watch half an hour of those ships flying around. And I guess, ultimately, I did. It's kind of too bad there was all that other stuff in there.
My rating overall would be something like, "Meh."