Columbia's 33rd serial (made between "Jack Armstrong" and "The Sea Hound") was based on the character that first appeared in "Action Comics" No. 42, who was a radio singing cowboy who ... See full summary »
Columbia's 33rd serial (made between "Jack Armstrong" and "The Sea Hound") was based on the character that first appeared in "Action Comics" No. 42, who was a radio singing cowboy who doubled as a crime-fighting, motorcycle-riding crime-fighter with a pre-teen Chinese boy, Stuff, as his answer to Batman's Robin, although Stuff ran a lot or errands that Robin didn't have to do since the Dynamic Duo had Alfred the Butler (both versions) to do those. In the serial version, Stuff became a white, draft-age sidekick played by George Offerman Jr.(and we are still looking for any film made in the 30's and 40's that this actor was billed as the incorrect George Offerman rather than the correct George Offerman Jr), which fit right in with the costume changes that Columbia tagged The Vigilante character with; a snappy-brim fedora and a Montgomery Ward catalog white Gene Autry- style shirt instead of the large flat-brimmed hat and double-button blue shirt he wore in the comic books. The nose-chin... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There is a simple irony that the lead character travels everywhere on a motorcycle, yet the story revolves around horses. The Vigilante: Fighting Hero of the West is based on one of DC Comics' lesser known, but interesting characters. In the comics and the serial Greg Sanders was a singing cowboy, but there is only one real singing cowboy song when Ralph Byrd performs "Saturday Night In San Antone" during the first chapter. There is much more music in the night club that shows up many times, and Ramsay Ames' singing is by far one of the highlights of this serial. Later chapters do present more western action, but there is no more western music.
I wish this had been a Republic serial because at times it seems to drag a little. The mandatory fights scenes take place often enough, but they lack the "oomph" that Republic was able to add to every serial. A mistake that cannot be missed is the two visits to the blacksmith's shop. It is trashed the first time, but totally rebuilt the second time. The clue for which everyone searches cannot be found in the first visit, but is totally visible and accessible in the second visit. This is too obvious to be forgivable. Experienced viewers may guess the identity of X-1 early on, but the build up to the villain's unmasking is part of the fun.
Although I have a problem with the continuity there are a lot of positives for The Vigilante. The plot was a combination of the best Gene Autry westerns and the many secret agent serials of its time. Mystery surrounds the stolen horses and the meaning of "100 tears of blood." Arabs, gangsters, cowboys, and secret agents are enough to hold my attention. Anything with Lyle Talbot is worth watching, too.
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