Site by Chris Kalb
The Spider's Web © Columbia Pictures Corp.
The Spider TM & ©
Argosy Communications, Inc.
The high adventure and elaborate villainy of the Pulps seemed tailor-made
for Saturday morning cliffhangers, yet few made the transition into chapter-plays. Tarzan and The Shadow
are notable examples, but each were proven commodities in film and radio by the time they
thrilled serial audiences. In 1938 The Spider leapt to the screen directly from the pages of
his magazine, so strong was his readership.
The Spider's Web (1938)
(Working Title: The Spider -- Master of Men) This surpisingly
faithful adaptation of The Spider magazine's characters and body-count is generally
thought to be Columbia's finest serial, and one of the best chapter-plays of all time! Through
15 truly action-packed episodes, the picture-perfect cast battles the hooded Octopus, who is bent
on destroying the nation's transportation, communication, and utilities systems in order to gain
control of them. First chapter released October 22, 1938.
The Spider Returns (1941)
(Working Title: The Return of The Spider) So popular was
The Spider's Web that Columbia quickly followed it up with -- well, first
The Shadow (1940), a virtual Web retread with Lamont Cranston, but then --
The Spider Returns, a wartime retelling of the first serial with the sabotage-happy
Gargoyle doing the masked villainy this time out. Sadly, this is a lesser effort more
typical of Columbia's weak serial output under the solo direction of James W. Horne, who
"specializes" in misguided knockabout comedy bits. And the recast Nita, Mary Ainslee, is an
unwatchable shrew. First chapter released May 9, 1941.