Don attacks the plane, which is piloted by Barsac, and in the ensuing dog-fight the battling planes collide and…
Here’s a Pro-Tip for any of you ever knocked unconscious while flying an airplane: make sure your girlfriend (or boyfriend, whichever the case may be) has completed forty flight hours with a
RED: Not with Don handling that plane—I was sure he’d pull out!
“Don is my friend!”
SPLENDOR: Look, he’s headin’ back to Tangita!
RED: We’re heading back for anchorage…
SPLENDOR (removing his hat and wiping his brow): Aw…thank goodness for that!
The first time I heard that exchange I, too, expressed a sigh of relief because I thought Red was referring to
and therefore those two knobs would be out of the serial for a while. As usual...I’m simply not that lucky. Now let’s have a round of applause for the
person who really pulled the plane out of that dive.
MERCEDES: Thanks—for a minute I didn’t think I’d be able to pull ‘er out of it…
“Seeing as my masculinity has been beaten senseless almost as many times as I have during this serial…”
MERCEDES: Well, I bet Mike and Red were certainly surprised to see us pull out of that dive… (She starts to mop his brow like a dutiful girlfriend)
MERCEDES: It crashed into the ocean and sank…
MERCEDES: I don’t think so…
“You do not want to f**k with me when I’m behind the controls of a plane, Don Winslow.” As they continue their soaring through the clouds, Mercedes looks outside the window on her side and spots…
MERCEDES: The Scorpion’s?
MERCEDES: Are you going to warn the 620?
Um…what brain trust put that plane together again? Worry ye not—Don knows the 620 is headed for anchorage, and so he decides to follow the submarine in order to locate its secret hidey hole. Witnessing the sub do this…
…Don and Mercedes deduce that there must be an underwater submarine base! (No moss growing on these two, that’s for sure!)
MERCEDES: But how do they get to it from the outside?
Well, you sort of saw this coming—the chapter title is “Fighting Fathoms Deep” and it will require a plot for the next fourteen minutes. A smarter hero would have put it together that such a base would only be accessible via a…oh…a mine, for example. (It’s all about pacing.)
The skipper of the sub, Captain Jacklin (Guy Kingsford) bounds out of the craft with a jaunty “Tennis, anyone?” spring to his step…unaware of the right pranging he’s about to receive from his boss.
JACKLIN: No, M-22…they drive our plane off with their anti-aircraft fire…
MERLIN: The pilot should have renewed the attack!
JACKLIN: Well, he tried…but his plane was intercepted by Winslow…
JACKLIN: There was a terrific dogfight…our plane crashed into the ocean…
Arriving in the radio room, Merlin and the other two henchies order radio operator Parker (Ray Teal) to contact The Scorpion—apparently Parker is the only one with the sophisticated know-how to bring him up on the TV screen, so if he gets croaked during this serial I don’t know what they’re going to do. The familiar Eli Wallach-like visage of The Scorpion soon appears, and just once I’d like to see him wearing a shower cap as if they interrupted him in the middle of something important.
MERLIN: No, master…the Z-40’s plane was downed in a fight with Winslow…
SCORPION (hissing): Winslow…that proves again that Winslow is too smart for you and all the other operators under you! I’m tired of your alibis, M-22…I want action! One more failure like this…and you shall suffer The Scorpion’s sting!
So Scorp gives Merlin and his misfits another assignment that’s almost guaranteed to set sail on The Great Lake of Fail: they’re to intercept a United States cruiser and transport ship headed for Tangita carrying Marines to assist Winslow in…well, whatever the hell he’s doing in this serial; I’ve kind of lost track myself. Oh, yes—now I remember—they’ll be helping to complete the naval base and so, per The Scorpion, M-22 and his men must capture Winslow and destroy the 620. (Last week he told them it was okay to kill Winslow. I wish he’d make up his mind.) Those are his orders, and they must be obeyed.
BARSAC: Well, The Scorpion surely picks out tough jobs for us…
“Oh, bite me…you useless sponge on the payroll…”
CORLEY: The Z-40 can take care of that…
MERLIN: Use your head…Winslow will undoubtedly send the 620 to convoy them in…our submarine wouldn’t have a chance against those two Navy ships…
I put these screen caps up to show you the rather clumsy bit of editing they did on this thing…after Merlin finishes the “use your head” line, they spliced in a scene with the following dialogue, only shot from a different angle.
MERLIN: Radio…that’s it…if we had their secret codes, we could send them orders to go anyplace we wanted them to…even around the North Reef…
BARSAC: Into our secret minefield!
And then—it’s back to the previous angle. (This serial be crazy!)
BARSAC: I’ll take Corley and the rest down to Blake’s warehouse…we’ll get Mr. Winslow’s codes…
MERLIN: See that you do!
Back in the radio room at the warehouse of construction foreman John Blake (Ben Taggart), Seaman Chapman (Peter Leeds) hands Don a sheet of figures…which our hero then takes over to his desk to show his aviatrix girlfriend Mercedes.
MERCEDES: It’s all Greek to me, Don…
“Well, that’s because it’s written in Greek…let me get my translation dictionary…” Seriously—this dame opened up the chapter doing loop-de-loops and barrel rolls in a plane despite no previous experience and she can’t read a few figures on a sheet of paper?
MERCEDES: …you promised to explain it to me someday…
“Math is hard!”
“…and utilizing figures from noted geometry theorist Otto Yerass…”
MERCEDES: The North Reef! Why, Don—that’s where the submarine disappeared!
Will ceases never wonder?!! Don has finally located The House of Scorpion—“And if Blake has that diving equipment ready I’m going right down to investigate!” However…for the purposes of what transpires next and for the simple convenience of this serial, Don and Mercedes must take their conversation into Blake’s office…because Chapman
is about to get the
snot beat out of him by bad guys has important work to finish, and he
shouldn’t be disturbed.
Don and Mercedes go into Blake’s office, where they are greeted by his gal Friday, Misty Gaye (Anne Nagel). Mercedes burbles that Don has important news—which Misty interrupts with “Now don’t tell me you discovered that I’m The Scorpion!” No, you big silly—it’s that Don has located The Scorpion’s crib, and as he makes this announcement Mike and Red fortuitously happen to enter the office (there’s an amusing “Say that again?” reaction from Pennington).
There is then a cut to an outside shot along a wharf, where Barsac and Corley are pulling up in a motorboat and are greeted by Henchman Spike (Ethan Laidlaw), whom I guess was already hanging around awaiting their arrival. Barsac asks Spike about two more thugs named Slade and Joe, and Spike reveals that they’ve positioned themselves around back. The plan is apparently to infiltrate the office, whereupon Corley will crack open the safe and make off with the code books. “Don’t worry—if they’re in that safe, I’ll get ‘em,” Corley reassures Barsac. “I’ve opened plenty of ‘em before.” (They’ve got a name for people like Corley…that name is called “recidivism.”)
Inside the radio room, Seaman Chapman sits with his headphones on and dreams his dreamy dreams. He does not hear the stealthy Spike sneak up beside him and introduce his cranium to the business end of a sap (though neither do we—the director cuts to a shot of Barsac and Corley outside, with an audible “thwack” on the soundtrack). And neither does anyone else in the adjoining room; apparently they soundproofed the joint or something. Once Spike lets the other two henchmen that were waiting around back in, he goes over to the office door and eavesdrops on Don’s conversation with his chums:
RED: Looks like you found what we’ve been looking for!
Well, if one of you would step into the adjoining room a minute to see if Chapman would like a refreshing beverage, you could capture a few of those men. No, the conversation continues with the arrival of Blake, who’s there to let Don know the diving equipment is all ready.
RED: I’m going with you, Don…if you’re doing any diving, I’m handling the air supply…
“’Cause Don and I are pals, huh, Don?” Splendor then riffs on that same line he had in last week’s chapter about “a man of my experience,” which starts all assembled to chortling again. The camera then cuts back to the radio room, where the bad guys are securing things as Corley works his finger magic on the tumblers. Fortunately, Seaman Chapman comes to and yells out just as Don and Company are heading out the door in the next room…and a bodacious donnybrook breaks out between good and bad stuntmen!
Chapman is knocked unconscious on the floor as Don and the rest burst in. The two henchmen who waited patiently around back for everything to go down are killed in the melee (what was that lecture Don gave Merlin last week about capturing people rather than killing them?) and Spike’s gun is shot out of his hand as he attempts an exit out the back. Corley and Barsac haul ass out the front door to the waiting speedboat, and Don and Red demonstrate once again that expert marksmanship does not necessarily make a good Navy man because they clearly can’t hit the broadside of a barn (both of those goons have no protective cover whatsoever as they speed away). Finally, Don restrains Red from any more shooting by saying “Let them go, Red…we’ll get them later.” (Pacing.)
CHAPMAN: They were after the codes, sir…but they didn’t get them…
“Yeah, thanks to me—how about a week’s liberty, asshole?” Don asks Mercedes to bring the doctor in to look at the dead henchies while the heroic Chapman intercepts a message at his station. This is where Don and friends learn about the cruiser and transport ship that will be bringing in the Marines…who I hope are better shots than these clowns. Don orders Chapman to tell the ships to stand by for further orders while he and his chums board a tug and head for the rocks to find out where the Z-40 went. They board—well, I’ll show you a screen cap so you’ll know I’m not making this up…
…the S.S. Mickey—so named because that’s all the crew drinks when they’re on board. (Little malt liquor joke for the fans in the audience.) Don and Red give the diving equipment the once-over, and Blake brags: “It’s the latest safe Navy equipment—they let me have it for my underwater work at the base.”
“Couldn’t ask for better!” beams Don. The skipper of the boat, Captain Neal, is ordered to cast off…and while he goes uncredited at the IMDb (and the screen capture is a little fuzzy), his voice is unmistakably that of character great Stanley Blystone.
The scene then shifts to the Pacific Hotel—an establishment with which we first became acquainted in Chapter 2 of our opus, and it’s run by a skeevy proprietor (Jerry Mandy) who answers to “Tangita Jim.” Jim is in cahoots with Scorpion, LLC, as witnessed by the arrival at the front desk of Spike from upstairs, whose right hand (his shootin’ hand) is bandaged because he sustained an ouchie in that fight.
SPIKE: Yeah, Jim…thanks…I’ve got to get back to the mine and warn M-22 about Winslow locating the secret entrance to the sub base…
JIM: Yeah…but watch yourself…
So Spike heads for the front entrance…and as luck would have it, so are Mercedes and Misty (from outside). Sharp-eyed Mercedes spots the henchman before he exits the hotel and shoves Misty back, then explains as the two of them watch Spike get into his car that he was one of the goons in that radio room knock-down-drag-out.
MERCEDES: It would certainly help Don!
MISTY: Well, what are we waiting for?!!
With a screen wipe and the strains of
Fingal’s Cave on the
soundtrack, Spike arrives at the mine and spots the girls pulling up in their
car a few hundred feet away. He ducks
inside, and Mercedes tells Misty that they need to let Mr. Merlin know about
this so that he can catch him and turn him over to Don. Inside the mine, the ever-present elevator
man named Karl (whom we’ve discussed in previous chapters) appears to have
either been fired or is on vacation because there’s a new guy (Ken Terrell)
watching things who answers to “Rocky.”
“There’s a couple of young women outside,” Spike tells him, “they look
like Winslow’s friends…see that they don’t snoop around.” Spike then makes his descent into the mine.
MISTY: Yes! We just saw…
MERCEDES (interrupting): We want to speak to Mr. Merlin…
ROCKY: He isn’t here right now…but you can wait in his office…right over there… (He points outside)
In the underground sub mine, Merlin is chewing out Corley and Barsac: “I told you to get those code books! Our hands are tied without them!” And that’s when Spike comes running up to inform them that Don is about to go snooping around underwater in a search for the entrance to the base. “Corley, round up a couple other men, quick!” barks Merlin. “Barsac—warm up the speedboat! You’re going to break up Winslow’s little party!”
There is then a shift to that party boat, the S.S. Widemouth. As you can tell by the above screen cap, Don is conveniently parked by the side of the boat (no idea what he’s standing on, but since that’s a process screen behind them my first guess would be studio floor) while someone has left Splendor in charge of the air system. (Nah…nothing possibly catastrophic here.) There is then a quick cut to a shot of Barsac’s speedboat—which apparently has been outfitted with a whisper motor since no one aboard the Mickey seems to hear it or spot its wake.
The crew put a diving helmet on Don, which prompts this observation from Mike:
Another strange, strange line. “Sure, Mike and I feel like one!” responds Don, mimicking Splendor’s brogue. Don is lowered into the briny deep, and the stock footage takes over.
Incidentally, much of this same footage was later reused in Thunderball (1965). As Don explores the mysteries of the sea, Cousteau Pennington and the remaining Calypso crew seem completely oblivious to the approaching motorboat carrying Barsac, Corley and the rest of the goon squad, who leap upon the boat and start throwing punches. But here’s the hilarious bit: Red continues to make sure that Don is getting the proper amount of air, despite being repeatedly slugged by stuntmen. Actually, at the speed he’s turning that pump wheel; Don should have already emerged from below, inflated to gargantuan proportions. (Unless cartoons have been lying to me all these years.)
“Red!” shouts Don down below, sweating like Edmond O’Brien on a good day. “What’s wrong with my airline?”