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Mandrake, the Magician

D: Sam Nelson, Norman Deming / 20m

Cast: Warren Hull, Doris Weston, Al Kikume, Rex Downing, Edward Earle, Forbes Murray, Kenneth MacDonald, Don Beddoe

Fighting one of the Wasp’s henchmen at the home of Professor Houston, Mandrake narrowly escapes death when the radium machine ignites a hydrogen tank. As he recovers, the henchman makes off with the radium machine. He and Lothar go after them in their car but it breaks down, sabotaged by the Wasp’s men using part of a magician’s trick. Mandrake has the sale of such an item traced – by his friend Frank Raymond (Beddoe) – to an Egyptian-looking man, and learns his address. But the Wasp is aware of Mandrake’s progress and sets a trap for him.

At the Egyptian man’s home, Mandrake is ambushed but manages to escape using a tear gas bomb. The Wasp’s gang, knowing he’ll be heading back to the home of Professor Houston, try to listen in using the radio transmitter they’ve hidden there, but it’s not working. One of the gang is sent to fix it. Shortly after he arrives, and while hidden, Mandrake reveals he has a small amount of platinite that he plans to place in his private bank vault later that night. Knowing the Wasp’s man is there, he also gives details of the route he’ll take.

Expecting to be intercepted, Mandrake allows himself to be captured. Followed to a building in the city by Lothar and Professor Houston’s daughter, Betty, he’s tied up and held in the basement. He frees himself and a fight ensues, one that Lothar joins while Betty waits in the lift that has brought them down to the basement. As the fight continues, one of the gang tries to abduct Betty in the lift, but when a power board is damaged it sends the lift hurtling upwards out of control.


Chapter two in the series can be fairly accurately described as filler. With Professor Houston and his radium machine having been taken, Mandrake has the flimsiest of clues to follow and both encounters with the Wasp’s men leads to a fight – with all the usual flailing fists and poorly executed rough and tumble. It’s the first chapter where Kikume gets involved in the fisticuffs, or rather his very obvious stunt “double” does; it’s fun to see Lothar transform from portly middle-aged man to a youthful, slimmer version with more physical dexterity.

There’s a brief car chase that was obviously filmed on a deserted studio lot, and the Wasp continues to give his orders via a giant TV screen, relaying information that points suspiciously to his identity being one of three people involved in helping Mandrake. It’s already easy to guess who it is, but that’s part of the fun, and keeps things interesting, seeing how long it will be before the Wasp’s true identity will be revealed. What the casual viewer might also be waiting for is the point at which Betty and her brother Tommy show any real concern about their father’s abduction, instead of being blithely reassured by Mandrake that he’ll be all right.

Rating: 5/10 – while not advancing the storyline in any way, and dialling down the peril, Chapter 2: Trap of the Wasp still has plenty of energy and vigour; a stepping stone then to the next chapter, which from the advanced trail, looks much more exciting.