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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.
Of course, the identity of the villain will be obvious after the first episode, but that's pretty much the norm for 1940's serials (look at Captain America). But there is a lot of action and thrills throughout all 16 episodes. And Ralph Byrd is great in the title role...one of the few roles that he is believable in besides Dick Tracy (where he is the master, no matter what Warren Beatty may think). Lyle Talbot is fun, as always, as is the rest of the cast.
There's a little bit of everything in this one...and I think it deserves a place next to the originality of such classic chapter plays as The Adventures of Captain Marvel and The Masked Marvel.