‘Spy Smasher’ or — Indiana Jones x 11?

Colin Edwards
2 min readFeb 24, 2024

So last night was even more exciting than usual and considering how ludicrously entertaining the shit I typically watch is then that’s really saying something.

Then again it’s hard to get more exciting and entertaining than the 1942 Republic film serial ‘Spy Smasher’, a film series so relentlessly action-packed it boggles the mind.

Alan Armstrong (Kane Richmond) is Spy Smasher, a caped and masked vigilante who fights the growing Nazi menace threatening America. This threat takes the form of The Mask, a Nazi leader who attacks the United States from his U-boat lurking off the U.S. coast. These nefarious attacks range from attempting to destroy the economy by flooding America with counterfeit bills to sabotaging experimental aircraft built for the British war effort. Fortunately Spy Smasher, along with his twin brother Jack and his fiance Eve, are here to stop them.

All I knew about ‘Spy Smasher’ before diving into it was that it was one of the influences on Lucas and Spielberg’s ‘Indiana Jones’ and watching it last night that influence hits you in the face like a fist into a Nazi. So I found myself jumping up and down in my seat, pointing at my TV screen squealing “That’s the minecart chase from ‘Temple of Doom’!” or “That’s the fight between Indy and Pat Roach in ‘Raiders’!”

And it’s not just ‘Indiana Jones’ but A LOT of Lucas and Spielberg in general is here. For example, there’s a phenomenal moment in chapter 4, the wonderfully titled ‘Stratosphere Invaders’, where a futuristic looking airplane is sitting on a runway and it is so sleek, so beautifully curved and “mirrored” that it looks almost exactly like the silver Naboo Royal Cruiser from Star Wars.

That’s one of the many appeals of ‘Spy Smasher’ — its adorable miniatures. The world that’s created here is an aesthetic delight.

The other appeal is the action which is practically non-stop with director William Witney blasting everything along with a blistering gusto that’s overwhelmingly invigorating (watching this made me want to start leaping about my living room and smashing my furniture to pieces, but in a good way).

The fact the stunt team is lead by Yakima Canutt is also a huge bonus and when a fight breaks out, which happens on an almost permanently constant basis, its utter bedlam with the stunt men throwing each other about like ragdolls and destroying everything in sight.

‘Spy Smasher’ is absolutely outstanding and so deliriously entertaining it should be classified as a narcotic. So if you ever wanted to mainline the pure, unadulterated substance that made the work of Lucas and Spielberg so energetic and fun then it’s all here. Just brace yourself first because the rush is flabbergasting.

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Colin Edwards

Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.