When the unscrupulous Carlos Manning discovers that an old Spanish land grant recently unearthed will leave a huge section of California real estate to the heirs of Don Quantero, he employs... See full summary »
This wonderful serial is from the Republic Studios heyday, 1937-1947, full of director Spencer Gordon Bennet's fantastically designed fistfights, and imaginative chapter endings. But the best things about this one are the excellent performances by everyone involved. Marten Lamont, who portrays the title character, gets much "into" his role and gives a much more animated performance than a lot of other serial heroes. I wish he had done more serials, but probably Republic decided that his charming British accent was too out of place. Lamont can be seen in small roles in Alfred Hitchcock's FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT and John Ford's HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY.
Helen Talbot, who played in hundreds of Republic B-Westerns opposite stars such as Don "Red" Barry and Allan "Rocky" Lane, is a very likeable heroine, and gets herself into a lot of nasty situations, although she is probably one of the only serial heroines to never get knocked unconcious in the course of the whole serial.
As for the bad guys, George J. Lewis gives his greatest serial performance as the suave, urbane, music-loving master criminal Jim Belmont. Although Lewis did lots of other serials, this was his only part as a "brains" heavy, and he gives it everything he's got.
Equally impressive is the talented Lorna Grey, as Belmont's henchwoman, Rita Parker. Miss Grey is almost as nasty in her portrayal of Rita as she was as Vultura in NYOKA AND THE TIGERMEN, three years earlier. And yet, in several other serials, she played the heroine, and just recently I saw her in a old Three Stooges short on AMC, as the scatter-brained wife of a wealthy tycoon. Truly a versatile actress!
As for the supporting cast, Hal Taliferro, as Belmont's chief gunman, is a typically tough and stupid "action" heavy. Ernie Adams has an entertaning bit as a reporter, and all of Republic's stuntmen pop up as assorted hoods, more than once. But the crowning performances are by Lamont and Lewis, both in brief moments of glory.
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