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Serial Report
    - Chapter One Hundred
    - Chapter Ninety-Nine
    - Chapter Ninety-Eight
    - Chapter Ninety-Seven
    - Chapter Ninety-Six
    - Chapter Ninety-Five
    - Chapter Ninety-Four
    - Chapter Ninety-Three
    - Chapter Ninety-Two
    - Chapter Ninety-One
    - Chapter Ninety
    - Chapter Eighty-Nine
    - Chapter Eighty-Eight
    - Chapter Eighty-Seven
    - Chapter Eighty-Six
    - Chapter Eighty-Five
    - Chapter Eighty-Four
    - Chapter Eighty-Three
    - Chapter Eighty-Two
    - Chapter Eighty-One
    - Chapter Eighty
    - Chapter Seventy-Nine
    - Chapter Seventy-Eight
    - Chapter Seventy-Seven
    - Chapter Seventy-Six
    - Chapter Seventy-Five
    - Chapter Seventy-Four
    - Chapter Seventy-Three
    - Chapter Seventy-Two
    - Chapter Seventy-One
    - Chapter Seventy
    - Chapter Sixty-Nine
    - Chapter Sixty-Eight
    - Chapter Sixty-Seven
    - Chapter Sixty-Six
    - Chapter Sixty-Five
    - Chapter Sixty-Four
    - Chapter Sixty-Three
    - Chapter Sixty-Two
    - Chapter Sixty-One
    - Chapter Sixty
    - Chapter Fifty-Nine
    - Chapter Fifty-Eight
    - Chapter Fifty-Seven
    - Chapter Fifty-Six
    - Chapter Fifty-Five
    - Chapter Fifty-Four
    - Chapter Fifty-Three
    - Chapter Fifty-Two
    - Chapter Fifty-One
    - Chapter Fifty
    - Chapter Forty-Nine
    - Chapter Forty-Eight
    - Chapter Forty-Seven
    - Chapter Forty-Six
    - Chapter Forty-Five
    - Chapter Forty-Four
    - Chapter Forty-Three
    - Chapter Forty-Two
    - Chapter Forty-One
    - Chapter Forty
    - Chapter Thirty-Nine
    - Chapter Thirty-Eight
    - Chapter Thirty-Seven
    - Chapter Thirty-Six
    - Chapter Thirty-Five
    - Chapter Thirty-Four
    - Chapter Thirty-Three
    - Chapter Thirty-Two
    - Chapter Thirty-One
    - Chapter Thirty
    - Chapter Twenty-Nine
    - Chapter Twenty-Eight
    - Chapter Twenty-Seven
    - Chapter Twenty-Six
    - Chapter Twenty-Five
    - Chapter Twenty-Four
    - Chapter Twenty-Three
    - Chapter Twenty-Two
    - Chapter Twenty-One
    - Chapter Twenty
    - Chapter Nineteen
    - Chapter Eighteen
    - Chapter Seventeen
    - Chapter Sixteen
    - Chapter Fifteen
    - Chapter Fourteen
    - Chapter Thirteen
    - Chapter Twelve
    - Chapter Eleven
    - Chapter Ten
    - Chapter Nine
    - Chapter Eight
    - Chapter Seven
    - Chapter Six
    - Chapter Five
    - Chapter Four
    - Chapter Three
    - Chapter Two
    - Chapter One

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Chapter Ninety-Seven

“Mysterious Mr. M”

by Boyd Magers

Title card for "The Mysterious Mr. M" ('46).

The end of Universal’s long history of superb serials came in 1946 with “The Mysterious Mr. M”. Master criminal Anthony Waldron (Edmund MacDonald), mistakenly long believed by the police and his respectable grandmother Cornelia (Virginia Brissac) to have died in Africa, has secreted himself away in a fully equipped lab beneath Brissac’s mansion. MacDonald and the duplicitious Derek Lamont (Danny Morton) and his sophisticate sister Martha (Jane Randolph), nephew and niece of Mrs. Waldron, keep Brissac doped-up and under control through the use of Hypnotrene, a drug MacDonald discovered in Africa.

Edmund MacDonald, Jane Randolph, Danny Morton.

MacDonald, Morton and Randolph capture Dr. Kittridge (John Hamilton), inventor of a prototype for a revolutionary giant-size submarine engine which will allow sub travel at 30 knots an hour underwater. After MacDonald associate, intern Mauritz Hugo, accidentally kills the good doctor by injecting an overdose of Hypnotrene, MacDonald learns Kittridge has assigned construction of the sub engine’s component parts to several other inventors.

Never venturing from his secret lab, MacDonald designates thugs Jack Ingram and Joe Haworth to search for the late inventor’s collaborators.

Dennis Moore.Meanwhile, police chief Joseph Crehan assigns Federal agent Dennis Moore, whose brother is murdered by MacDonald, and detective Richard Martin to keep the valuable sub engine from falling into the wrong hands. Insurance investigator Pamela Blake tags along for feminine help.

Richard Martin and Pamela Blake in Universal's last serial, "Mysterious Mr. M" ('46).

The 13 chapter plot thickens when a third party known as the Mysterious Mr. M takes a hand in the search for the sub engine prototype. Mr. M often provides MacDonald and his co-conspirators useful information but also blackmails the wanted criminal into doing his dirty work. Mr. M manages this by secretly passing whispered messages to MacDonald by way of phonograph records.

Phonograph record player.

As usual with most latter day Universal serials, there is less action than provided by Republic or Columbia and more excessive expository scenes, written in this instance by veteran serial scripters Paul Huston, Joseph Poland and Barry Shipman. However, the scripting threesome do provide some unusual twists to compliment Universal’s last serial foray: The unique idea of secret messages on recordings, Richard Martin being controlled for several chapters by MacDonald’s Hypnotrene and the chapter eight cliffhanger ending in which a shocked Dennis Moore is unexpectedly gunned down by a Hypnotrene infected Richard Martin.

Pamela Blake and Dennis Moore work with an injured Richard Martin to defeat Mr. M.

The supporting cast is also top-drawer—Byron Foulger as Grandma Waldron’s lawyer, William Ching as Dennis Moore’s murdered brother, Anthony Warde, Robert Barron, blind inventor Cyril Delevanti, George Eldredge, Eddie Parker, Keith Richards, Beatrice Roberts, Harry Strang, among others. Fights and stunts are also on a high level with Davy Sharpe doubling Dennis Moore, Tom Steele for Richard Martin and Ken Terrell and Eddie Parker for various heavies.

As for the serial’s weakness—the writers never even attempt to explain how Mr. M manages to gain the all-important information about submarine components and how he manages to get some of his mysterious records into the Waldron household. Mr. M’s exposure in Chapter 13 is quickly sloughed off as if the screenwriters knew they only had 16 or so minutes to wrap up the conclusion to 13 weeks of mystery.

Serial title "The Mysterious Mr. M".As usual with Universal serials, stock footage is often employed from earlier Universal serials, and often material from Republic—including the oil field fire from “King of the Texas Rangers” and the oft-seen factory explosion from “G-Men vs. the Black Dragon”.

But all taken, it’s not an uninteresting, uninvolving way to wrap up 69 Universal serials over 17 years (1929-1946).

 

Serial Profiles by Boyd Magers

Edmund MacDonald

Edmund MacDonald.With his 6'2" menacing physique, mustachioed look and tough Brooklynese manner of speech, Boston born Edmund MacDonald should be better remembered than he seems to be.

Born May 7, 1908 his family moved from Boston to NYC when Edmund was 12. After high school graduation he joined a Long Island stock company. He soon appeared on Broadway in ‘33 and ‘34, toured with several productions and his deep resonant voice served him well in radio work, especially on “Gang Busters” and Arch Obler’s shows.

His first film, the exploitation “Enlighten Thy Daughter”, was released in ‘34. Playing a cad who gets a girl pregnant while engaged to another set the ‘heavy’ tone for his film career. He signed with 20th Century Fox in ‘40  but never seemed to rise above character actor material. WWII service interrupted his career. Upon his return he stayed busy on radio and in films such as “The Lady Confesses”, “Hold That Blonde” and “Detour”.

MacDonald, Pamela Blake, Mauritz Hugo.

Danny Morton (center) adn Edmund MacDonald are devious plotters in Ch. 1 of Universal's "Mysterious Mr. M" ('46).As his career began to wane he accepted the top-billed heavy role of Anthony Waldron in Universal’s last serial, “The Mysterious Mr. M”. Co-star Danny Morton told us, “Edmund MacDonald and I worked together in ‘The Mysterious Mr. M’. He was a good looking guy and a fine actor who never had any leads in pictures. Edmund went back-and-forth between playing a bad guy and a policeman. But more often than not, he was a villain. Edmund was a nice guy who liked motorcycles. In fact, during the filming of ‘Mysterious Mr. M’, he was in a bad motorcycle accident that left the top of one finger severed. You can even see it in the serial! In some scenes, there is a bandage covering his missing finger—in other scenes, the bandage isn’t there as we shot out of sequence. Tragically, he died only five years later—of a cerebral hemorrhage, that most likely was caused by any other motorcycle accidents he might have had!”

Researcher Laura Wagner also learned and wrote, “There might have been a hidden reason for these mishaps and another, much more gruesome one, that occurred on March 8, 1950. Edmund was descending some stairs at the Hollywood Athletic Club when he stumbled. As he fell over the railing, he crashed into a wrought iron lamp standard with a long spear on its top. The iron rod pierced into his thigh, thrusting all the way through the skin. The spear was still in his leg when he was taken to the hospital.”

After the serial MacDonald made only five films between 1947 and 1949 but worked heavily on radio.

The 43 year old MacDonald suffered a stroke and was admitted to an L.A. hospital where he died 18 hours later of a cerebral hemorrhage on September 2, 1951.

 

 

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