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Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere

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Captain Video
Judd Holdren and a native of Atoma
Directed bySpencer Gordon Bennet
Wallace Grissell
Screenplay byRoyal K. Cole
Sherman L. Lowe
Joseph F. Poland
Story byGeorge H. Plympton
Produced bySam Katzman
StarringJudd Holdren
Larry Stewart
CinematographyFayte M. Browne
Edited byEarl Turner
Color processBlack and white
Sam Katzman Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 27, 1951 (1951-12-27)
Running time
287 minutes
(15 episodes)
CountryUnited States

Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere is an American adventure horror science fiction film 15-chapter serial released by Columbia Pictures in 1951. It was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Wallace A. Grissel with a screenplay by Royal G. Cole, Sherman I. Lowe and Joseph F. Poland, based on a treatment by George H. Plympton. The serial is unique for several reasons--- in particular, it is the only film serial ever based on a television program, Captain Video and His Video Rangers.


Judd Holdren, in what was only his second starring screen role, plays Captain Video, the leader of a group of crime-fighters known as the Video Rangers. He faces an interplanetary menace, as the evil dictator of the planet Atoma, Vultura (Gene Roth) and his lackey, the traitorous earth scientist Dr. Tobor (George Eldredge) are planning to conquer the earth.



Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere was the only serial adapted from television.[1]

It was one of Katzman's first forays into science fiction and was soon followed by The Lost Planet.[2]

As produced by Sam Katzman, the serial had a production budget much larger than the famously small budget of the DuMont Television Network's live daily television series.

Captain Video and his teenaged sidekick, the otherwise nameless "Video Ranger" (Larry Stewart), must make frequent visits both to Atoma and to another distant planet, Theros. Both Atoma and Theros are filmed at Bronson Canyon, and Vasquez Rocks, so to distinguish the two, the Atoma footage is tinted pink and the Theros footage is tinted green in the original release prints.[1] These colored scenes were processed by Cinecolor.

This was the second of only three science fiction serials released by Columbia. The third, The Lost Planet (1953), is a virtual sequel although with different character names.[3]



Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere was very successful when first released to theaters, and kept playing long after other serials had been retired to the vaults. It is one of only two serials that Columbia reissued three times (in 1958, 1960, and 1963).

Critical reception

Harmon and Glut describe this serial as a "rather shoddy, low budget space cliffhanger."[1][dubious ]


The serial includes several science fiction gadgets of the era. The Opticon Scillometer was used for looking through walls. Objects were made to disappear with the Isotropic Radiation Curtain. The Mu-ray Camera could photograph lingering images after the event. Temporary madness could be caused with the Psychosomatic Weapon. A variation on Radar was entitled the Radionic Directional Beam and the Radionic Guide and a Vibrator gun that worked like a Tazer.[1]

Chapter titles

  1. Journey into Space
  2. Menace of Atoma
  3. Captain Video's Peril
  4. Entombed in Ice
  5. Flames of Atoma
  6. Astray in the Stratosphere
  7. Blasted by the Atomic Eye
  8. Invisible Menace
  9. Video Springs a Trap
  10. Menace of the Mystery Metal
  11. Weapon of Destruction
  12. Robot Rocket
  13. Mystery of Station X
  14. Vengeance of Vultura
  15. Video vs. Vultura


See also


  1. ^ a b c d Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "2. "We Come from 'Earth', Don't You Understand?"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. pp. 45 & 49. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
  2. ^ THOMAS M. PRYOR (Feb 14, 1952). "2 COMPANIES PLAN RAILROAD MOVIES: Metro to Film 'The High Iron,' Warners 'Last Train West' -- Katzman Makes Deals". New York Times. p. 23.
  3. ^ Cline, William C. (1984). "3. The Six Faces of Adventure". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 34. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  4. ^ Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 252–253. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  • Science Fiction Serials by Roy Kinnard (McFarland, North Carolina, 1998). ISBN 0-7864-0545-7
Preceded byMysterious Island (1951) Columbia serial The Mysterious Pilot (1951) Succeeded byKing of the Congo (1952)
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Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere
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