"The Vigilantes Are Coming" is one of the first, if not the first, serials released by the then newly formed Republic Pictures. It doesn't seem too constrained by budgetary constraints as it boasts the proverbial "cast of thousands".
The vigilantes of the title are a group of ranchers led by a Zorro like figure known as "The Eagle". What makes this story different, is the idea of Imperial Russia plotting to colonize early 19th century California and Cossack soldiers ridin' the range. As always, there's plenty of action and the usual heart stopping cliff hangers and last minute escapes.
As in most Republic serials, there is a cast of familiar faces. Leading the way is Robert Livingston as the hero whose father and brother are gunned down in the first chapter by Yakima Canutt. This forces Livingston to assume the identity of a mild mannered church organist whose alter ego is "The Eagle". The chief villain, Jason Burr who plots to be the governor "of the new Russian colony" is played by Fred Kohler who graced many a "B" western.
The Eagle is given two sidekicks in this one, Guinn (Big Boy)Williams and Raymond Hatton. Heading up the Russian contingent are Robert Warwick as Count Rasminoff and veteran bad guy Robert Kortman as Petroff, the head Cossack. Backing up Kohler are such "B" veterans as John Merton, Bud Osborne and Canutt. Former silent star William Farnum is along as Father Jose head of the mission where the Eagle hides out and Kay Hughes as the typical helpless serial heroine. Ray (Crash) Corrigan, who would team up with Livingston later that year to form two-thirds of "The Three Mesquiteers", appears unbilled as Captain Fremont head of the American brigade.
Despite the large cast, there were too few fist fights and too much running around. But as with all Republic serials, the production values were top notch and it was a cut above most other studios output.
Beware though that many of the mid-chapter cliffhangers don't match up with "the escape" in the ensuing chapters.
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