“A Book Report on a Movie” by JB, age 10
I picked Daredevils of the Red Circle because I wrote about The Adventures of Captain Marvel last semester, and I have developed something of a JONES for movie cereals from the thirties and forties. Don’t judge me. I’m ten. That’s just how I roll. I thought it would be easier to watch a movie than read a book but I forgot that this was originally shown a chapter at a time in movie theaters and that in total it was almost like four hours long total. My parents are in Hollywood, and not the good one. If I knew it would take four hours to watch it, I might have just read a stupid book.
Daredevils of the Red Circle concerns a crazy escaped con, who goes by his prison name, 39013 (Charles Middleton). Like all crazy escaped cons in movies like these, he decides to get revenge on the guy whose testimony sent him to the stir in the first place, industrialist Horace Granville (Miles Mander, whose name sounds like a fancy ladies soap from the thirties). Since this is a movie cereal and the filmmakers have almost four hours of space to fill, 39013 decides to get even in the most roundabout, complicated way possible. He captures Granville, then puts him in a prison cell that he has somehow built in Granville’s own basement, then impersonates him with elaborate masks and wigs, and then reeks havoc on his empire by issuing crazy orders to his underlings.
Because 39013 is a sociopath and a narcissist, he invites the Daredevils to stay in Granville’s house in order to investigate who ruined the circus. There’s an expression for this. Is it “keep your enemies closer?” No… Is it “working someone from behind?” No! It’s called “playing both ends against the middle!” That’s what 39013 is doing here with the Daredevil boys and Granville. I know that little moto because my father is constantly accusing my mom and grandma of doing that to him.
Meanwhile, there is a hooded figure running around, providing the daredevils with clues. Even if you have only seen one other movie in your life, you will be able to figure out who is under that hood in under fifteen minutes. It’s that easy.
Duck Soup (I think he has, like, two lines), but is most famous for playing Ming the Merciless in the Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon cereal. Raymond Bailey shows up as a secondary stooge; almost thirty years later he would play irritable banker Mr. Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies. Herman Brix, who plays one of the leads, was a real stuntman in Hollywood for over forty years under the name of Bruce Bennett. One of his last stunts was in the movie Blazing Saddles. Bennet’s the guy who is dragged behind the horse and shouts, “That’s it for this suit!”
Film Historian Michael Schlesinger provides a terrific audio commentary, though only on Chapters One, Four, Nine, and Twelve He admits early on that he has neither the material nor the stamina to talk through every single chapter. He gives a nice rundown on the cast (That’s where I learned about Herman Brix and his connection to Blazing Saddles.) and also points out some of the absurdities of the plot.
(Some pretty good cliff-hangers and a script that makes sense; I could see why some people say this is one of the best cereals ever made)
(Very few, someone wears a cloak and acts mysterious. The bad guy keeps threatening to poison someone.)
(Great stunt and miniature work. Terrific fire effects.)