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Edward L. Cahn
The voice of the Scorpion is not the same as the voice of the actor who is revealed in the final episode to be the masked villain. This was obviously done in order to mislead audiences as to his actual identity until the very last minute. See more »
This serial was produced by Victory Pictures, another one of the famed "Poverty Row" studios of the 1930s and 40s. The storyline centers around Sir James Blake, a retired and renowned law enforcement officer, brilliantly played by Herbert Rawlinson. Blake and his group are assigned to investigate the disappearance of a ray machine that was designed by an engineer (Ralph Byrd) that was to be used by the armed forces in combat. The henchmen, led by The Scorpion(who relies on a black hat, mask and a claw-like glove, give this group a real run for the money.
The settings take place in an eerie boarding house, complete with secret passages, rooms equipped so that one can observe and hear what goes on in the room below (this is one way that they keep tabs on each other), and the all-time cellar with the long stairway that leads into the river where a boat awaits the getaway. Each character adds meaning to the film except I don't understand why little Dickie Jones would be a part of this undertaking (he's Sir James' nephew) but he manages to be a big help to the law. Sam Flint plays Police Inspector Henderson (oh, Superman! Where are you????) who works closely with Sir James & the others. The key henchmen are played to perfection by Ted Lorch and Dick Curtis, both naturals for the roles.
I have to agree with a previous reviewer about the fight scenes. There are some, but no where near as many as in the Republic serials. In those, there's a fight very 5 minutes which gets tired after a while; in this serial, the fights are spaced out evenly throughout the film, keeping the suspense level high. And speaking of Sir James and Inspector Henderson, those two gray-haired seniors hold their own during the fights. Sir James has one particular gritty tussle with a big brute of a guy (the mute and monster-like son of the boarding house owner who is also in cahoots with the henchmen)and manages to win! The down side of the fight scenes is that the fighting is done in slap-style, not closed fist, unlike the Republic fights, which made for a bit of chuckling while I watched it.
The film quality is dark at times but watchable. There were times that I had to get close to my screen to see what was doing on but those scenes were very few.
I recommend this if you're in the mood for good, classic action from the 1930.
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