Columbia's 12th serial of 57 total (following 1940's "Deadwood Dick" and ahead of 1941's "White Eagle") is another of director's James Horne's "classics" where he evidently figured that the...
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Columbia's 12th serial of 57 total (following 1940's "Deadwood Dick" and ahead of 1941's "White Eagle") is another of director's James Horne's "classics" where he evidently figured that the same reactions that served him well in Laurel and Hardy films would work well in action serials where he has all hands, heroes and villains alike, doing some kind of over-the top "take", no matter the situation. This loose adaptation of an Edgar Wallace story finds Michael Bellamy (Kenne Duncan in his Kenneth Duncan period) inheriting Garr Castle, but his brother, Abel Bellamy (James Craven, as usual making Oil-Can Harry look smooth), has him imprisoned unjustly and moves into the castle himself. When Michael's wife, Elaine Bellamy (Dorothy Fay), fails to return after visiting Abel, her sister Valerie Howett (Iris Meredith), accompanied by their father, Parker Howett (Forrest Taylor) and private detective Spike Holland (Victor Jory, who even when playing the lead hero gets a villain's name), rent ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
"The Green Archer" is an action packed 15 chapter serial from Columbia. It has all of the serial cliches that we've all come to know.
First we have the masked hero whose identity is unknown, The crusading crime reporter Spike Holland (Victor Jory), the mad villain with dreams of glory Abel Bellamy (James Craven), the helpless heroine Valerie Hewett (Iris Meredith), her sister Elaine (Dorothy Fay), the dumb cop Captain Thompson (Fred Kelsey), the lame brained henchman Dinky (Kit Guard), secret passage ways, trap doors, numerous fist fights where the hero gets knocked out but never finished off, death defying escapes from certain death etc.
Abel Bellamy who controls a ring of jewel thieves has framed his brother for murder and taken over the family castle from which he runs his operations. His brother Michael (Kenne Duncan) is involved in a train wreck on his way to prison and is apparently killed. His wife Elaine is kidnapped and taken to the castle and held prisoner. Ace crime reporter Spike Holland whose company had insured much of the stolen jewelry, enters the case. Spike had been a close friend of Michael Bellamy and works closely with his wife's sister Valerie and her father to discover the jewel thieves hideaway/identity and secure Elaine's release.
Abel Bellamy enlists one of his men Brad, to pose as the Green Archer a legendary figure from the Bellamy Castle past. But of course the "real" Green Archer shows up and the inevitable confusion takes place. Much of the story has Holland fighting with Abel's henchmen and falling into various traps set by the bad guys, only to escape in the nick of time, usually with the help of the "good" Green Archer". Spike must have had a lot of suits because he gets soaked to the skin in several chapters.
Finally, Spike and the police sort things out and bring the crooks to justice and the Green Archer turns out to be.....
It wasn't too difficult to tell who the real Green Archer was. In spite of a couple of red herrings, it is rather obvious. There's also some tacky special effects. The back projection shots are amateurish and the miniatures used in the house burning are less than convincing.
It was good to see veteran villain Jory get to play the hero for once. He did much better in another Columbia serial "The Shadow" released the same year. With his distinctive speaking voice, Jory made a career out of playing smooth talking gang leaders or back shooting henchmen, mostly in westerns. Serial veteran Craven goes way over the top as the chief villain and some of his gang are too dumb to be believed.
Others in the cast include Robert Fiske as Savini, Craven's nervous second in command, Joseph W. Ross as Inspector Girard and Herbert Evans as the butler Henderson who may not be what he appears to be. Veterans Charles King, Harry Harvey, Bud Osborne, Edmund Cobb, Jack Perrin and Tom London pop in for a chapter or two.
"The Green Archer" is everything that you'd expect a serial to be.
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