Artwork by Glenn Cravath
The Spider Returns © Columbia Pictures Corp.
The Spider TM & © Argosy Communications, Inc.
Spider Returns Cast

What a thrill to see Warren Hull and Kenneth Duncan back in action as The Spider and Ram Singh! Too bad the remainder of the production can't capture the magic of the first. Though Dave O'Brian does make an excellent new Jackson, this blonder, bitchier portrayal of "Nita" is infuriating.

Warren Hull (Richard Wentworth)
Hull reprises all three roles (Wentworth/Spider/Blinky) and makes this otherwise typical Columbia serial not-unwatchable.

Kenneth Duncan (Ram Singh)
The other small pleasure of this unspectacular outing is Kenneth Duncan back in the turban of Ram Singh. Just a great marriage of actor and character (despite him being Canadian).

Mary Ainslee (Nita Van Sloan)
(1919-1991) Mary Ainslee's film career is mercifully short, covering only 15 films, most of them made 1940-41. Ainslee and the writers' approach to Nita Van Sloan in this sequel is completely wrong in terms of both the Pulp roots and what had been layed out in The Spider's Web. In Returns she is a blonde, shrill harpy, forever after Wentworth to marry her. The real Spider would have nothing to do with this kind of cloying dame, but perhaps this is what passes for "comic relief" in an ill-conceived serial under the solo direction of James W. Horne.

Dave O'Brian (Jackson)
(1912-1969) Dave O'Brian got his start as a chorus boy and dancer in Warner Bros. musicals like 42nd Street (1933). In 1936 he played a dope-fiend in Reefer Madness, uttering the famous line "Faster! Play it faster!" but mostly did stuntwork and played villains in westerns. In fact he was Warren Hull's stunt double in the first Spider serial, The Spider's Web. Now he was actually The Spider's aide! Later he would become a serial hero himself as Captain Midnight (1942), directed by James W. Horne. (He was married to his Midnight co-star, Dorothy Short.) He also headlined many B-Westerns before making a popular and long-running series of comedy shorts at MGM for producer Pete Smith, which O'Brian wrote and directed as well as starred in. He later became a TV writer for Red Skelton and even won an Emmy. He loved yachting and the sea (this supposedly contributed to his divorce from Short) but ultimately collapsed and died during a yachting race along the California shores in 1969. He was 57.