The Adventures of Captain Africa

The Adventures of Captain Africa (1955) is a Columbia serial directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and starring John Hart. It was the third to last serial to be produced by Columbia.

The Adventures of Captain Africa
Original poster for the first chapter of the serial
Directed bySpencer Gordon Bennet
Produced bySam Katzman
Written byGeorge H. Plympton
StarringJohn Hart
Rick Vallin
Ben Welden
June Howard
Bud Osborne
Paul Marion
Music byMischa Bakaleinikoff
CinematographyIra H. Morgan
Edited byEarl Turner
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • June 9, 1955 (1955-06-09)
Running time
15 chapters
CountryUnited States


Trapper Nat Coleman and government agent Ted Arnold come upon a plot to take over an African nation. Its leader, Caliph Abdul el Hamid, has been exiled from his country and replaced by a look-alike usurper allied with an unnamed foreign power. The Caliph intends to return but enemy agents Boris and Greg are out to stop him. Captain Africa a masked jungle lord, appears occasionally to aid Nat and Ted.

The main villain does not actually make an appearance anywhere in the entire serial.


  • John Hart as Captain Africa, masked government agent
  • Rick Vallin as Ted Arnold, government agent (and principal hero of the serial despite the title)
  • Ben Welden as Omar, the Caliph's servant and Nat Coleman's assistant (since rescuing him in the jungle)
  • June Howard as Princess Rhoda, the Caliph's daughter
  • Bud Osborne as Nat Coleman, an animal trapper involved in the plot through his assistant Omar
  • Paul Marion as Abdul el Hamid, exiled but legitimate Caliph
  • Lee Roberts as Boris, agent of a foreign power attempting to take over the Caliph's nation
  • Terry Frost as Greg, agent of a foreign power attempting to take over the Caliph's nation
  • Edward Coch as Balu, native ally of Captain Africa


The Adventures of Captain Africa was conceived and filmed as a sequel to The Phantom (starring Tom Tyler).[1][2] Well into production, Columbia found that its screen rights to the comic strip had expired. King Features wanted more money than producer Sam Katzman was willing to spend, and negotiations broke down.[3]

Katzman ordered a rewrite, and new scenes showed John Hart now wearing an amended costume that only used part of the original Phantom outfit, with the addition of a leather aviator's cap and riding breeches.[3] The revised story featured a new hero, Captain Africa, who still bears a strong resemblance to the Phantom in both appearance and behavior.

The Adventures of Captain Africa consists mostly of stock footage from earlier serials Jungle Menace (1937), The Desert Hawk (1944), and The Phantom (1943) itself. Footage from The Phantom was reduced when this stopped being a sequel. Each of the 15 chapters uses only a few minutes of new material.[3]

Producer Katzman was well known for his thrift and shortcuts.[1] Serial producers often economized by including a "cheater" chapter, in which flashbacks to earlier chapters are shown instead of new scenes. The Adventures of Captain Africa uses four cheaters among its 15 chapters. The frequent recaps were possibly necessitated by the hasty rewrites during production.

The Adventures of Captain Africa was Columbia's last jungle serial.[4]


The serial was released on VHS, and on DVD from a company called Serial Bowl, which specialized in movie serials.

Critical reception

Serial historian William C. Cline writes that The Adventures of Captain Africa is "an obvious remake of The Phantom, it contained many stock shots from the earlier release and at times seemed almost like a repeat run."[4]

Chapter titles

  1. Mystery Man of the Jungle!
  2. Captain Africa to the Rescue!
  3. Midnight Attack!
  4. Into the Crocodile Pit!
  5. Jungle War Drums!
  6. Slave Traders!
  7. Saved by Captain Africa!
  8. The Bridge in the Sky! -- Re-Cap Chapter
  9. Blasted by Captain Africa! -- Re-Cap Chapter
  10. The Vanishing Princess!
  11. The Tunnel of Terror! -- Re-Cap Chapter
  12. Fangs of the Beast!
  13. Renegades at Bay! -- Re-Cap Chapter
  14. Captain Africa and the Wolf Dog!
  15. Captain Africa's Final Move!


See also


  1. Wollstein, Hans J. "Adventures of Captain Africa (1955)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 11, 2008. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  2. Photos of Hart as the Phantom
  3. Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "10. The Long-Underwear Boys "You've Met Me, Now Meet My Fist!"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. pp. 270–271. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
  4. Cline, William C. (1984). "3. The Six Faces of Adventure". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 36. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  5. Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 257. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
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