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The Avenger (1931)

Passed | | Romance, War, Western | 6 March 1931 (USA)
Goss, Mason, and Kelly force Joaquin Murieta to watch as they hang his brother Juan for a crime he did not commit. To exact his revenge on the three, Joaquin becomes the notorious Black Shadow.


(as Roy Neill)


(adaptation), (story)
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Cast overview:
Joaquin Murietta aka The Black Shadow (as Charles 'Buck' Jones)
Black Kelly
Captain Paul Lake
Walter Percival ...
Al Goss
Ike Mason


In 1849, Joaquin Murietta, son of a wealthy Spanish grandee, has a bitter street quarrel with three rough prospectors. He later finds the family home in ruins and his father dying---the result of an attack by the same three men; "Black" Kelly, Ike Mason and Al Goss. Joaquin goes to a mining camp to inform his brother, Juan, of the murder and, on his way, he meets Helen Lake, who has come west to teach in the town school. Determined to get possession of the rich Murietta claim, Kelly, Mason and Goss attack the camp, kill Juan and beat Joaquin into unconsciousness. But even with the Murietta claim in their possession these men do not prosper long. A mysterious bandit, known as "The Black Shadow", continually raids the stage coach which carries shipments of their ore. Captain Lake of the United States Army, who is Helen's father, offers a reward of $5,000 for the capture of "The Black Shadow", but Joaquin's disguise is too effective and he eludes capture. He posts a placard in the local ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Magnificent - dashing - spectacular! Charming romance, breathtaking action, a story of genuine artistic worth. Picturesque ruffians - a beautiful girl - and a daredevil bandit. Daring horsemanship, desperate gun play. (Studio publicity sheet). See more »


Romance | War | Western






Release Date:

6 March 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Phantom Hoofs  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of over a hundred Columbia features, mostly Westerns, sold to Hygo Television Films in the 1950s, who marketed them under the name of Gail Pictures; opening credits were redesigned, with some titles misspelled, the credit order of the players rearranged, some names misspelled, and new end titles attached, thus eliminating any evidence of their Columbia roots. Apparently, the original material was not retained in most of the cases, and the films have survived, even in the Sony library, only with these haphazardly created replacement opening and end credits. See more »


Remade as Vengeance of the West (1942) See more »

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User Reviews

Buck Jones' Mexican Accent
3 May 2015 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Buck Jones plays Joaquin Murietta, the Robin Hood of California. It depends on whose side you come down on whether the real Murietta was a gangster or a patriot to oppressed Mexicans against the evil Anglos. he records indicate he killed more Chinese than Caucasians, so your mileage may vary.

This one comes down squarely on Murietta's side when his brother (played in a very early role by Paul Fix) is lynched and Jones seeks revenge as "The Black Shadow." Although the story and Jones' accent never rise above adequate, there are some pleasures in this Columbia B. Director Roy William Neill is best remembered for directing Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in several of the pair's later screen Sherlock Holmes movies. Neill had started in the silents and spent most of the 1930s at Columbia, making visually striking films on small budgets. His strong grounding in telling stories visually in evident throughout, particularly about 20 minutes in, where he rescues Miss Revier from a horse stampede.

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