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Category:    Home > Reviews > Serial > Adventure > Jack Armstrong (Serial/VCI)

Jack Armstrong- The All-American Boy serial (VCI set)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Chapters: B-



It is hard to do the transition from radio to screen and some energy seems to get list, as was the case with most radio to television transitions, but Columbia Pictures’ 1947 production of Jack Armstrong falls somewhere in between.  We get another story of the good guys and the bad guys battling for a scientific breakthrough, but needing a resource found in an “exotic” location that pits them against “natives”, but this take is especially bizarre and the dialogue is “classic” when the visitors are criticized.


John Hart is the title character and he has brought family members with him.  This seems a step backwards after Billy Batson in Republic’s Adventures Of Captain Marvel (1940, reviewed elsewhere on this site) where Billy is younger and has no family around, but this 15-chapter serial still manages to move forward despite what is fair to consider as restrictions on the hero.


There is also Armstrong’s futuristic-looking car that is not seen enough, probably did not move as well as the producers would have liked, and whose body seems to not quite integrate with whatever old make and model it is built on.  It is underused and could have made this even more fun.  The fights are not bad for Columbia either, but what impresses most is that Armstrong is in a Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew position and the story is not more condescending as it might have been.  That makes Jack Armstrong – The All-American Boy a more interesting chapter in the world of these chapter plays, and one of the rare times a non-adult character was the hero.


The full frame, monochrome image is average, but the source material is in pretty good shape for its age.  It just seems to be down a generation or so and grain is the result.  Video Black is decent as well.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also average, but you can make it out enough to enjoy the dialogue, which alone is worth the sit-through.  Extras include four serial trailers, most notably the underseen Columbia Superman with Kirk Allan that has been out of circulation for far too long, some good biography information on the cast, and a new VCI promo showing how the company now dominates in the serial-on-DVD field.


Other companies are trying to put out serials on DVD, but they are doing the kind of horrible job that are preventing new generations from discovering how fun they can be.  VCI is consistently the exception and you will find just about all their DVD serial releases reviewed elsewhere on this site.  Jack Armstrong is just the latest example of doing these programs correctly.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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