On December 7th, 1941, a gang of international criminals with delusions of world domination attacked the United States. A quarter of our standing military assets were wiped out and thousands of Americans were killed. Just under fours later, we had rebuilt our military, the aggressors went down in flames, and America stood tall among the world powers.
On September 11th, 2001, a gang of international criminals with delusions of world conquest attacked the United States. Our major financial center was destroyed and thousands of Americans were killed. Fifteen years later, the Twin Towers have never been rebuilt, the aggressors are still running wild, Americans have surrendered their liberties, and our Government and Corporations stand allied with those who attacked us.
We look back at 1941 and see leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gen. George Marshall, J. Edgar Hoover, and 'Wild Bill' Donovan---then compare them to George Bush Jr., Barack Obama, and Hilary Clinton---we can readily observe the relative strength and weakness of our culture in the 1940s vs. the 21st Century.
Thus, our recommendation for this weekend's entertainment will take us back to the 1940s, and is suitably themed for the 9/11 Memorial Weekend. This is not a television series, but a 15-chapter movie serial, The Secret Service in Darkest Africa.
The Secret Service in Darkest Africa was produced in 1943 by Republic Studios at a cost equivalent to $2.5 million in today's currency, including some technical advice from the US military. The series was a sequel to an extremely popular 1942 serial, G-Men vs. the Black Dragon (which will be the subject of a future review here). The sequel follows the further exploits of Special Agent Rex Bennett.
In the opening chapter, Bennett has gone to Germany, where posing as a Gestapo officer intercepts a Nazi plot to foment an Islamic Jihad against the Allies in North Africa. He escapes to England---in a stolen Messerschmitt bomber no less!---and reveals the plot. His superiors dispatch him to Algeria---but too late. The Nazis, he learns, have kidnapped a powerful Moslem sheik and spiritual leader; and a top Gestapo agent, Baron von Rummler, is now posing as the sheik. Von Rummler is inciting the Arabs to rise against the Allies and look to the Nazis as protectors of Islam---while carrying out other Nazi intrigues behind the scenes.
Thus, Bennett is faced with the seemingly insurmountable task of fighting the Gestapo, the Jihadists, and rescuing the real sheik at the same time.
Nonetheless, Bennett rolls up his sleeves and wades into this daunting assignment. His character represents an aspect of masculinity that largely disappeared in the 21st Century: the belief that even the toughest jobs could be challenged and met. After WW2, Charles de Gaulle is even said to have remarked about American soldiers that "The word impossible is not in their vocabulary. Many times, I have observed that, when faced with an unexpected obstacle, the Americans never thought once of retreat or surrender; but instead formulated a new plan to complete the objective."
The Postmodern 'pajama-boys' and the phony 'Alphas' of the Manosphere present us with nothing like this kind of genuine self-assurance and self-confidence. Despite all today's talk of American Exceptionalism, the most predominant characteristic of 21st Century American manhood is its defeatism. Between the swaggering Manly Alpha Leaders and the cringing Millenial Boys afraid of their own shadows, everywhere American men seem to walk under a cloud of malaise and defeat.
Thus, The Secret Service in Darkest Africa presents us with a much more refreshing scenario. Rex Bennett's can-do spirit and commitment to see a tough job through made him a 1940s pop-culture icon among American boys---many of whom later emulated him on the battlefields of Korea, or building the post-war economic and technological boom of the 1950s. It's a spiritual element of the masculine nature that American men badly need to recover.
The Secret Service in Darkest Africa was Republic's 2nd-biggest ever serial production and is far better quality than many of Republic's other projects. The plot and storylines are fairly sophisticated and well-written, without the repetitiveness and redundancies that too often marred movie serials. And there is certainly no shortage of action: one reviewer calculated that there are at least three fights per episode.
All in all, watching The Secret Service in Darkest Africa this weekend would be an excellent alternative to the empty platitudes and babblings of politicians and pundits which typically characterize 9/11 Memorials. Here you can see good men doing good things---yes, actually doing them---defeating the Jihad and stopping Nazi scumbags dead in their tracks. Bennett also a charming love interest, the pretty and spunky Janet Blake---an Allied spy posing as a news reporter.
The series is occasionally available on Youtube and other free venues, but as of this writing it is not. The best way to enjoy it is by DVD, but it is time well-invested.