Perhaps the most commonly used villains or villainous presence in all of pop culture is without a doubt the Nazis. Since the end of the Second World War, there’s never really been a villain so commonly added to many franchises. Whether it’s a comic book series, or a two action film from a low rent studio, the Nazi’s are perhaps the most well known villains because they’re man-made villains. The Nazi’s dabbled in everything for the hopes of help in their world domination from creating a supernatural department, right down to human genetic experimentation. But in “The Master Key”–which takes place mere years after the end of the Second World War–has the Nazi’s as the villain seeking a powerful machine that could spell doom for the world, and domination for them. Like “I Love Lucy”, many of the devices used seem cliché, but they were fresh at the time because they came first.
The Nazis kidnap a renowned scientist and attempt to utilize his Orotron machine which can extract gold from the ocean floor. Under the role of “The Master Key” organization, they’re intent on using the machine, but not if Tom Brant and Jack Ryan have anything to say about it. “The Master Key” is an exciting thirteen part serial that works in more ways than one. As a kitsch reminder of why I love serials, it’s a fun Fleischer-esque crime drama that really harkens to Dick Tracy. There are many exciting high speed chases, and the shorts always end on a cliffhanger, and the cliffhangers always work. I can just imagine the anxiety of the audience in theaters watching Faust drive off a bridge with Janet Low strapped to the car waiting to see Chapter Three hoping she made it out alive before he took a nosedive in to the pavement. Thankfully, I was able to watch these fun serials in sequence, and that makes them so much more fun, especially when the Nazi organization fills us in on what happened on the previous episode. You just don’t get entertainment like this anymore.