Movie serials have been around since the early days of film. One of the earliest American films was Whatever Happened to Mary (1912) made by Edison’s studio and the chapters were tied in with a serialized story that was released in The Ladies’ World magazine. The French made several classic serials in the 1910’s including Fantomas (1913) and Les Vampires (1915). By the 1920’s the United States went crazy with making serials. They were cheap and always made money based on a flat rental rate. But by 1930’s the age of the talkies had begun and many smaller, lower budget studios couldn’t afford to make talking serials. The first talkie was The King of Kongo (1929) and even that was only a partial talkie.
Universal Studios had been making serials since the 1910’s and by 1936 they started licensing popular radio and comic strip characters. In 1936 the popular comic strip Ace Drummond made it to the big screen. Ace Drummond was created by Eddie Rickenbacker who was a celebrated WWI flying ace. It followed Ace, an aviator, and his various adventures around the world. It ran from 1935 to 1940.
The movie starred John King as Ace Drummond and he battled a mysterious villain known only as The Dragon. Ace is trying to figure out why The Dragon is trying to stop International Airways from setting up in Mongolia. Along the way he meets Jean Rogers, who is looking for her archeologist father.