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A 12-episode serial in which scholastic sports star Frank Merriwell leaves school to search for his missing father. His adventures involve a mysterious inscription on a ring, buried treasure, kidnaping and Indian raids. He saves his father and returns to school just in time to win a decisive baseball game with his remarkable pitching and hitting. Written by
Herman Seifer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I might have enjoyed the Adventures of Frank Merriwell a whole lot more had they kept it within the time frame it was written. The first Frank Merriwell story came out in 1896 and the attitudes in those stories very graphically expressed those of pre-World War I America. And that's where Frank should have stayed.
Instead he's updated to the year 1936 and the character really doesn't play well here. For those who don't know Merriwell was a fictional character created by Gilbert Patten writing under the name of Burt L. Standish. He was a square jawed, clean living, college athlete with no vices of any kind who while getting into all kinds of adventures still managed to get back in time to make the winning touchdown, win the race, or hit the home run in the bottom of the ninth inning for good old Yale. The books were enormously popular in the Theodore Roosevelt era and baseball pitcher Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants was in that time considered a living embodiment of Frank Merriwell. I'm surprised no one has ever considered a biographical film based on Mathewson.
This is a serial, so I'm not expecting the greatest caliber of acting and certainly not even Cecil B. DeMille type special effects. In that I wasn't disappointed. Donald Briggs plays our firm jawed hero who in this version after hitting a game winning grandslam homerun, gets called home when his mother is taken ill. That's a ruse, she's being harassed by prowlers and she thinks they're after a ring that Dad Merriwell left before disappearing two years earlier.
The ring holds the key to a buried treasure and our intrepid hero with his gang of college chums go searching for it with these mysterious villains on their trail. During the course of the Merriwell gets to show off his prowess in rowing, track and field, and boxing. The climax in fact involves a football game.
Jean Rogers who played Dale Arden in the Flash Gordon serial is on hand as Frank's most chaste girl friend and biggest booster. It's what was expected of the all American hero back then in 1896.
It might have gotten a couple extra stars had it stayed in 1896.
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