Undersea Kingdom

Serial Robots

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"Just get you up on the rack here and we'll take a look at that gearbox for ya."Undersea Kingdom (1936) starring Ray "Crash" Corrigan, who started his career playing a gorilla and ended it playing a space monster, was Republic Pictures' answer to the success of Universal's Flash Gordon.  Set firmly in that sub-genre of pulp fiction made famous by Edgar Rice Burroughs, we have the stalwart and resourceful American hero, the exotic land in some strange location (in this case, the underwater kingdom of Atlantis), and the society that for no readily apparent reason combines super-scientific machines with men on horseback wielding swords.

The robots in this serial are pretty much there as a bit of stage dressing and take up the slack for the villain's human henchmen.  Labour shortages, I suppose.  When the robots aren't lurching after "Crash" Corrigan with their ray guns or flying an airship which is as cool looking as it is ineffective, they're being put to purposes which are just plain daft.  When the villain orders his number two to activate the death ray, number two throws a switch on his belt that causes a nearby robot to leap into action and... throw a switch.  Would it have killed the guy to take two steps and throw the switch himself? 

If you ever get a chance to see this serial, keep a close eye on the robots.  Is it just me or do they have something of a mincing walk? 

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