John Hart as Captain Africa, masked government agent
Rick Vallin as Ted Arnold, government agent
Bud Osborne as Nat Coleman, animal trapper
Ben Welden as Omar, assistant to exiled Caliph and Nat Coleman
June Howard as Princess Rhoda, daughter of the exiled Caliph
Paul Marion as Abdul el Hamid, exiled but legitimate Caliph
Lee Roberts as Boris, enemy agent
Terry Frost as Greg, enemy agent
Edward Coch as Balu, native ally of Captain Africa
Michael Fox as Prime Minister
Producer- Sam Katzman
Director- Spencer Gordon Bennet
Writer- George H. Plympton
Music- Mischa Bakaleinikoff The Adventures of Captain Africa (1955):
No great shakes. This was originally meant to be a
sequel to the 1943 serial, "The Phantom", based upon the popular jungle
superhero from comics. However, Columbia's rights for making
another "Phantom" movie had long since expired. Legendary
Hollywood cheapskate, producer Sam Katzman, refused to buy the rights
to "The Phantom" so a similar, "original" character was created
instead. That, in itself, is not necessarily a bad deal, but the
entire serial was made on the cheap. The bulk of the serial is
stock footage taken from three serials: "Jungle Menace" (1937), "The
Phantom" (1943), "The Desert Hawk" (1944). Only a few minutes of
original footage was shot for each chapter.
Many serials would feature a re-cap chapter, that
covered earlier events in the serial. This serial was unusual,
since it had 4 re-cap chapters (also referred to as "cheaters").
It's believed that one reason for this was due to the hasty rewrites
The fact that this serial is called "Captain Africa"
is a misnomer. Although John Hart (Captain Africa) is given top
billing, Captain Africa is really a character of third importance at
best. The primary hero is Ted Arnold (played by Rick Vallin) and
his sidekick Nat Coleman (played by Bud Osborne) comes in second.
There are some chapters where we barely see Captain Africa. It's
safe to say that he is a minor character in his own film. But
he's the only one who really brings out any action so it's good that
he's "plunked" in there.
Captain Africa is made to look and act like The
Phantom. I think it's kind of sucky that a character called
Captain Africa isn't...oh, I don't know...African! This is just a
sign of how totally stupid Hollywood can be sometimes. Why
shouldn't a man named Captain Africa be black? Then again, the
whole African locale doesn't seem too genuine. There's an awful
lot of Arabs and desert for a jungle setting. Never have figured
out why there aren't black people in an African story. Even the
"natives" look more like Indians.
This mighty jungle lord apparently has no strong
love for his animal brethren. The number of animal deaths in this
serial is something else. Another weird thing about this
serial: the main villain appears NOWHERE in this film. The
characters talk about him, but they never show him. We just know
that he deposed the good ruler, Abdul el Hamid.
On the whole, this movie is an incoherent
bore. It's just not put together right. I suppose parts of
it make interesting visuals, but that's about it. John Hart does
some pretty good action work. June Howard is pretty as Princess
Rhoda. Some critics take a potshot at the acting of the entire
cast. I don't think anyone was necessarily a bad actor in this
serial, I just don't think they had much to work with. "The
Adventures of Captain Africa" is not a must-see, but if you come across
it in your travels, you'll find certain highlights. Chapters:
in boldface are the more interesting, must-see chapters of this
Chapter 1- Mystery Man of the Jungle:
Captain Africa kills one leopard.
We don't see much of Captain Africa
in this chapter.
Chapter 2- Captain Africa to
We don't see much of Captain Africa
in this chapter.
Chapter 3- Midnight Attack:
Captain Africa kills four men and
one mule in this chapter. That makes a total of 6 he's killed so
far in this serial.
Balu, a native, kills a lion to save
one of the more interesting
chapters in the serial.
Chapter 4- Into the Crocodile
Captain Africa doesn't kill anyone
in this chapter, although we do see quite a bit of him.
We see that Captain Africa has some
kind of mystical power in the crystal ball scene.
A lot of this serial is recap, using
flashback sequences we've seen only a few chapters back.
Chapter 5- Jungle War Drums!:
Captain Africa doesn't kill anyone in this
chapter, even though he's in it quite a bit from the beginning.
This is one of the better chapters in the serial
for all the interesting action sequences.
Captain Africa falls into and gets himself out of
Captain Africa then appears in a cloud of smoke
at his jungle throne, and disappears the same way.
A big Arab battle takes place (Captain Africa not
Princess Rhoda is kidnapped on coach.
Chapter 6- Slave Traders!:
Captain Africa doesn't appear very much in this
Love begins to bloom between Ted Arnold (Rick
Vallin) and Princess Rhoda (June Howard).
Chapter 7- Saved by Captain Africa!:
Not only was this Columbia's last jungle serial,
it was the third to last serial they ever produced!
Debuted on June 9, 1955 in the US.
The movie rights to "The Phantom" were a bit too
expensive for Sam Katzman's tastes, so the negotiations broke down.
This was the last work of June Howard, who has
only one other credit to her name, a 1955 episode of the TV series
"Hallmark Hall of Fame".
"The Adventures of
Captain Africa" Chapter 1 Poster