This surprisingly violent 15-episode serial takes place on the border between Texas and Mexico. When warned by Captain Jack of the Texas Rangers of impending trouble, elderly rancher Bill Burrel swears that Mexican cattle rustler Pancho won't do any riding or shooting in the area again. Pancho's lieutenant Santas, (who desires his boss's daughter Juanita's hand, and has been refused), overhears Burrel and decides to make things rough on Pancho by stirring up trouble for both sides. Pancho and his raiders, sworn to drive the settlers off the border country, attack the Burrel ranch and shoot Burrel dead, and his son Harry swears to make Pancho pay for his night's work. In the conflict that follows Pancho is knocked unconscious and his hands crushed in a press by masked men, apparently Texas Rangers. Though the torture is actually performed by the traitorous Santas and his cohort Rodriguez, Pancho blames the Rangers for the injury, swears revenge, and the two factions resolve to destroy ... Written by
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This serial was presumed lost until September 2003 when 23 reels of 35mm positive footage, missing opening credits and somewhat condensed/edited, were discovered among a cache of 35mm nitrate film prints that had been stored in the residence of a former theater projectionist in Pennsylvania. One reel had entirely decomposed and was discarded. The remaining 22 reels were found to contain footage from all 15 of the original episodes except the original Episode 1, the conclusion of Episode 3 and most of Episode 11. The film had been condensed by the original owner of the film, apparently so that the serial could be shown as an extended feature. It's possible the missing episodes 1 and 11 and additional action clips from other chapters were additionally removed from the full-length condensation later and edited together to create a short feature, which may be why those chapters are entirely lost and nothing appears of them in the footage found but a few shots from the opening of Episode 11. However, it'is also possible that the fully decomposed reel contained footage from Episode 1 and that Episode 11 was deliberately left out of the condensation; evidence from the remaining footage is conflicting. It seems possible that the intention had been to remove Episode 11 from the continuity, because the shots that were retained from the chapter are carefully edited to remove mention of the US Army Border Patrol, which was featured in that episode. However, it's not clear, then, why certain key action shots and scenes from the first half of the serial should have been removed. There's also evidence that the projectionist had access to two prints of one or two of the early chapters, and edited together footage from both. Boris Karloff
's brief part, as a Mexican who threatens a Texas Ranger in a tavern in Chapter 2, is his earliest known existing film appearance. The Texas Rangers who appear in the serial were not actors but real-life Texas Rangers, hired by Shamrock Films studio owner Patrick Sylvester McGeeney
. Many of the Mexicans in the film were also locals, as was the Army Border Patrol that appeared in the lost chapter 11. Marie Treador
(Ma Chadwick) was also Mrs. William Steiner
. Scenes were shot on location in Castroville, Texas, along the Medina River, at Mission San Jose in San Antonio and in Sabinas, Coahuila, Mexico. The serial is being restored by The Serial Squadron and will be released on DVD in nine half-hour episodes, one of which (Episode 1) has been entirely re-created, using the original script, by new actors. See more