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Former silent western star Ken Maynard is the main interest in this good effort from Mascot Pictures.He plays a railroad detective,out to find the villian who's causing trouble for a railroad builder.The bad guy,known as the "Rattler",uses disguises,such as facial features of other cast members.This same effect was used in "Hurricane Express". Maynard is good in the lead,good direction by "Brezzy Eason,and good scenic values are its good points.Generally slow moving,but sustains enough interest with a good story line,to keep it interesting.Music score is ok,but very limited in its use.Overall,good effort from Mascot.
I just purchased Alpha Video's DVD of this serial. The story itself is
a good one, though, as usual, there are a few "cheats." These, I
suppose, are always to be expected.
I was disappointed, however, by Alpha Video's transfer which obviously came, at least in part, from a beat-up 16mm TV print. Beware - the entire ending for Chapter 2 is missing and there are many "rough spots" throughout the print. Sound quality ranges from mediocre to downright poor.
Even so, I enjoyed the serial - it's very exciting and it's really fun to spot some of the uncredited actors in it, especially Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette, and, if someone else came out with a much better transfer, I would buy it.
I have not seen VCI's tape of this serial nor do I know of any other DVD release of it. Alpha Video's release is not so bad as to be totally avoided, but it is disappointing nonetheless. I had expected better.
Mystery Mountain is a 12 part Mascot Pictures serial where silent movie
cowboy Ken Maynard is trying to track down a nefarious criminal called
the 'Rattler'. This dude who when he's not walking around posing as
other cast members with life like masks is busy trying to get a feud
going between a railroad and a freight wagon outfit that's owned by
leading lady Verna Hillie.
The railroad is busy digging a tunnel into a mountain where the 'Rattler' has a vested interest. But sent to get to the bottom of all this is range detective Ken Maynard together with a sidekick, newspaperman Syd Saylor, looking for a scoop as all good newspapermen do.
Maynard's horse Tarzan has absolutely nothing on Trigger, in fact I think Tarzan ought to ask for a recount or demand to know when the election was held that named Trigger the smartest horse in the movies. He pulls Maynard's gluteus maximus out of the proverbial sling a few times in Mystery Mountain.
In fact Tarzan's the one who finally after 12 chapters identifies who the 'Rattler' really is beneath those disguises as other cast members and going around in a Phantom of the Opera like disguise for most of the film. I won't give it away, but the hint for the viewer who wants to sit through the four hours of this serial is: think The List of Adrian Messenger and how they nailed Kirk Douglas in that one.
By the way do you it's possible that John Huston and the writers who worked on The List of Adrian Messenger got inspired by Mystery Mountain?
If you look at the cast list of Mystery Mountain you will note the names of Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette. Both in fact were brought to Hollywood by Ken Maynard who met them in Chicago when he was doing a personal appearance tour and they were doing radio. This was the second of two serials they did literally learning the picture business, courtesy of Ken Maynard.
According to a recent biography of Autry, Public Cowboy Number 1, when Hollywood had totally abandoned Ken Maynard and he was living in poverty in a trailer park, Gene Autry sent him regular checks until the day Maynard died to keep him literally in eating money. Maynard was not the nicest guy in the world, but at least one man was grateful for a kindness shown.
I will say this for Mystery Mountain, at least it did not attempt to rewrite history as some serials I've seen did. It's a Mascot film so don't expect too much/
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SYNOPSIS: A mysterious bandit, calling himself The Rattler , is
attacking both a coach line and the railroad that seeks to replace it.
NOTES: Mascot's 20th of 24 serials, was Gene Autry's and Smiley Burnette's second film appearance. The pair were actually sponsored by Ken Maynard and -- courtesy of Maynard -- had previously appeared in Maynard's Mascot western, "In Old Santa Fe".
COMMENT: The first chapter is both a serial fan's and a western fan's delight. It is in fact a miniature Ken Maynard western, exceptionally well produced, top-heavy with interesting players, great action and stunts that come to one of the most exciting climaxes of any serial or "B" western ever made a chase involving three coaches.
As usual with Mascot's introductory installments, there's no stinting on locations or players. This episode is so people-packed and so crisply paced and sweepingly directed, it's impossible to enjoy it to the utmost on a single viewing.
The players don't patronize us like they do in so many serials. Ken Maynard is his usual obligingly personable, rugged hero, who is not above doing some of his own stunts and engaging in his own fights (even though he does seem to be charitably pulling his punches a bit when meting it out to one of the villains).
Our heroine, the lovely Verna Hillie, proves that she has what it takes too. A runner-up in a Panther Girl contest, Miss Hillie is both a daring yet skillful actress.
Of course most people will be looking for Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette. They don't figure in the first episode at all. But we do see Lafe McKee playing the heroine's dad, heavy Al Bridge in a good-guy role for once, plus a bunch of cowboy stalwarts led by Jack Rockwell.
I saw both serials that were released back in the 1960`s on television.The bad one where "the Rattler" wears many different masks is available on tape,the other one-the really good one in my opinion-is not available where "the Rattler" uses sophisticated electrical equipment deep within the mountain where he is hiding to gain control of the whole area."The Rattler" is more dangerous with his electrical equipment than William "stage" Boyd is from the "Lost City" serial that I have also seen on television back in the 1960`s.Many people were killed in this serial."Ken Williams" just happened to ride on the scene and wanted to help out after all the murders.In the second or third chapter he comes very close to "the Rattler" and fights with him on top of a large stone,but "the Rattler"hits him and he is knocked off the stone.After that,"Ken Williams" is fighting mostly with the many men "the Rattler" has available for some time in the serial.The ending is very good-its much better than most of the other serials I have seen,the serial is better than "The Miracle Rider" and much better than the one where "the Rattler" wears different masks.This is one of the best serials I have ever seen because it introduces many strange elements into it and also because the chapter endings are real good better than the one with the masks.Also "Ken Williams" is not noted as some one special-he just happened to come along and decided to help out playing a lone hand."Breezy" did not have as much time in it as the one with the masks.This serial has a unique sort of texture in it that you will not forget especially for a cowboy movie.
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