Promoted and advertised as "The Million Dollar Serial", most of which appears to have been spent on advertising and the most elaborate pressbook ever put out by Universal on a serial (or ... See full summary »
Promoted and advertised as "The Million Dollar Serial", most of which appears to have been spent on advertising and the most elaborate pressbook ever put out by Universal on a serial (or 95% of their feature films for that matter), Universal's 51st sound-era serial (following "Sky Raiders" and before "Sea Raiders" and, to quote the late Oliver Drake who wrote the original story,..."we were lucky they didn't call it 'Land Raiders'), "Riders of Death Valley" remains a favorite for the 7-12 year-old kids who saw in on original release in 1941, and a major disappointment for those who came later and never saw it in the 35mm version shown on a screen in a 350-seat grind-house theatre, and now question what all the excitement was about. Hey, you had to have been there. Actually, it is just one long prolonged chase after another for the most part and, even worse, it is usually the 5-6 good guys running from 2-3 of the bad guys (which even had eight-year-old kids of 1941 wondering what's up ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Chapter 11, in the fight in the cave, Jim Benton jumps out to strike one of the outlaws with his gun, butt forward, then next shot, the gun is no longer seen, as he jumps on the outlaw and the fight begins. See more »
I'm not a fan of movie serials in general. I think it's an art form that has come and thankfully gone. Especially a western serial like this where Universal Pictures got an interesting name cast for Riders Of Death Valley.
The plot is one that could have been used for a good B western. Dick Foran and Buck Jones head the Riders Of Death Valley, a vigilante outfit formed because the law is ineffective against ruthless outlaws like Charles Bickford and Lon Chaney, Jr.
The whole serial is longer than Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments sound version and not nearly as good. The first part is Foran and company battling Bickford to locate a lost mine. The second part is Foran trying to work his mine and at the same time meet his financial obligations.
Through fifteen chapters Foran manages to survive, a landslide, a desert sandstorm, a mine accident, stampeding horses, and a framed murder charge. Just one is enough for any cowboy hero.
Serials were never meant to be viewed as I did on a DVD at home. 20 or so minute chapters every week back in the old days. But even at that I suspect they're no better.
With a length longer than a biblical spectacle, it must have taken Universal a long time and a big budget to film Riders Of Death Valley. It was a waste of time.
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