Commando Cody (Judd Holdren) is a former WWII commando who is now a scientist. He wears a mask at all times to protect his identity. He has been appointed Sky Marshal of the Universe and works out of a top secret laboratory. Commissioner Henderson (Craig Kelly), the head of U.S. Space Operations, has Ted Richards (William Schallert) and Joan Gilbert (Aline Towne), two new employees, come to Cody’s lab for introductions. They will assist Cody on his projects.
Evil forces have been trying to bombard the Earth with missiles. Cody has invented a radioactive cosmic dust blanket the envelopes the earth to keep them out. He has plans to build a rocket ship that he wants to use to find the origin of the missiles. He also needs an improved form of propulsion. Only if he can find where the missiles are coming from can he hope to combat them. While Cody and company work on the rocket the unknown enemy tries to find a way to penetrate the cosmic blanket.
Cody discovers that the evil force is an alien known as The Ruler (Gregory Gaye). From his base hidden in the bowels of an unknown planet and with the help of the Earthling called Baylor (Lyle Talbot), and a never ending supply of minions, The Ruler plans on taking over the universe. His target at the moment is Earth.
When Dick is transferred Cody hires Dick Preston (Richard Crane) as his replacement. With an arsenal of futuristic weapons, including his rocket flying suit, Cody and his co-horts battle The Ruler and his evil inventions. Each one more diabolical than the next and all designed to disrupt the Earth’s weather.
“Commando Cody: Sky Marshall of the Universe” was released in 1953 and was directed by Harry Keller, Franklin Adreon and Fred C. Brannon. It is an American twelve chapter serial produced by Republic and the third featuring the Commando Cody character. The first being “Radar Men from the Moon” 1952, with Cody played by George Wallace, and the second being “Zombies of the Stratosphere” 1952 with Judd Holdren .
Technically “Sky Marshal” was intended to be a television series consisting of twelve 25 minute episodes. Due to contract issues, union issues and the fact that, at that time, television was considered slumming as far as actors were concerned it was released as a theatrical serial instead. It was later released for television in 1955 as a syndicated weekly show.
Due to the “issues” there was a lengthy break between the first three episodes and the last nine. During that time “Zombies of the Stratosphere” was produced and released. Zombies used the name Larry Martin as the main character instead of Commando Cody. Why? Who knows. Something to do with one being a sequel and one a prequel and both being done at the same time and not wanting to confuse people. Did it work?
At one point “Zombies” was also put on hold. The first three episodes of “Sky Marshal” were filmed. Then “Sky Marshal” was on hold and “Zombies” was finished. Then “Sky Marshal” was completed. I believe “Sky Marshal” is the prequel and “Zombies” the sequel although the only thing that is the same as the other two is the rocket suit. Not that it really matters a whole heck of a lot. During the long break in filming character changes had to be made. William Schallert was replaced by Richard Crane since Schallert was no longer available. Because it was intended to be a television show there are no cliff hangers in the episodes.
There’s been much ado about whether or not “Sky Marshal” is serial or a series. Why? Because arguing about immaterial stuff is what fanatics do. There’s enough confusion with the whole prequel, sequel thing so let’s just call it a serialized series. Despite all the confusion behind the scenes the serial is action packed fun without any of the usual last minute “jump from something to save oneself” cliff hangers. Although the standard stock footage from other serials is still abundant. I remember seeing the melting rock thing in another Republic serial. And the Venusian spacesuits look like they came from “Destination Moon” 1950. I’m sure both are true. Regardless the serial is just plain enjoyable silly amusement.
Chapter titles: 1)"Enemies of the Universe" 2) "Atomic Peril" 3) "Cosmic Vengeance" 4) "Nightmare Typhoon" 5) "War of the Space Giants" 6) "Destroyers of the Sun" 7) "Robot Monster from Mars" 8) "The Hydrogen Hurricane" 9) "Solar Sky Raiders" 10) "S.O.S. Ice Age" 11) "Lost in Outer Space" 12)Captives of the Zero Hour"