Fred C. Brannon

Fred C. Brannon (1901-1953) enjoyed an unusual directorial career across an eight-year period at Republic Pictures. Not only did he direct ten Westerns but also directed or co-directed two dozen serials, including some of the best of the studio's postwar science-fiction-oriented chapter plays. Working in tandem with Spencer Gordon Bennet, he made his debut on The Purple Monster Strikes (1945), while with William Witney he was responsible for The Crimson Ghost (1946), both among the most popular sci-fi serials of their period. With Thomas Carr, he made Jesse James Rides Again (1947), and with Yakima Canutt he directed G-Men Never Forget (1948), the latter a rare vehicle for actor Roy Barcoft in a benevolent role. It was on a trio of serials that Brannon directed by himself — King of the Rocket Men (1949), Radar Men from the Moon (1952), and Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952, with a young Leonard Nimoy) — that he made his biggest mark on movies, however. Those three serials introduced and elaborated upon the character of the bullet-helmeted, jet-pack-wearing rocket man, known variously as Jeff King, Larry Martin, or Commando Cody, who was played by George Wallace. The last original hero of the serials, the Rocket Man was also among the most compelling, depicted by Brannon and his crew in spectacular flying sequences and other stunts. Brannon also directed episodes of the Commando Cody television series.


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