Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere

Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere is a 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.

Captain Video
Judd Holdren and a native of Atoma
Directed bySpencer Gordon Bennet
Wallace Grissell
Produced bySam Katzman
Written byRoyal K. Cole
Sherman L. Lowe
George H. Plympton
Joseph F. Poland
StarringJudd Holdren
Larry Stewart
George Eldredge
Gene Roth
Don C. Harvey
Skelton Knaggs
Music byMischa Bakaleinikoff
CinematographyFayte M. Browne
Edited byEarl Turner
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 27, 1951 (1951-12-27)
Running time
15 chapters (287 minutes)
CountryUnited States


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]


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. 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. 2 COMPANIES PLAN RAILROAD MOVIES: Metro to Film 'The High Iron,' Warners 'Last Train West' -- Katzman Makes Deals By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 Feb 1952: 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, NC, 1998). ISBN 0-7864-0545-7
Preceded by
Mysterious Island (1951)
Columbia Serial
The Mysterious Pilot (1951)
Succeeded by
King of the Congo (1952)
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