Thanks to writer George H. Plympton (who was part of the writer's crew on both serials), Columbia's 45th serial is almost an exact remake plot-wise of Universal's 47th sound-era serial, ...
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Thanks to writer George H. Plympton (who was part of the writer's crew on both serials), Columbia's 45th serial is almost an exact remake plot-wise of Universal's 47th sound-era serial, 1940's "Winners of the West," with only some modifications in the character roles. The railroad is coming, and three different factions - landowner Karl Ulrich/The Baron and his henchies, led by Campo; railroad construction boss Homer Lathrop and his motley crew led by Scully and Irv; and a tribe of Indians led by White Eagle - have vested interests and reasons to stop the line's construction under the supervision of Tom Lane and his sister Carol. Undercover marshal Jim Grant and prospector Rocky are there to upset and hinder the raids by which ever band of malcontents is next in line. Stunt man turned star Mahoney doubled himself in most scenes, and his footwear throughout the serial was a pair of Indian moccasins rather then the usual high-heeled boots. That wasn't done to be unique as much as it was... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Chapter Titles: (1) Indian Attack (2) Captured by Redskins (3) Trapped by Outlaws (4) In the Baron's Stronghold (5) A Ride for Life (6) White Indians (7) Fumes of Fate (8) Midnight Marauders (9) Raid on the Pay Train (10) Trapped on a Trestle (11) Redskin's Revenge (12) Plunge of Peril (13) The Law Takes Over (14) When Killers Meet (15) The End of the Trail. See more »
The multi-chapter serial was beginning to fade away by the early 1950s, yet another victim of television, and -- not surprisingly -- "Roar of the Iron Horse" has a tired, worn-out quality to it. The stock characters have a hard time holding our interest and the plot they find themselves in -- building a railroad despite opposing forces -- seems so routine as to be lifeless. Having three sets of villains rather than one dissipates rather than intensifies the tension.
Jock (O')Mahoney does make a good hero but his appeal is hampered by a shortage of close-ups and a never-changing costume involving a buckskin-fringed shirt straight out of the Village People. This shirt, despite all the wear it's put through, never comes untucked or unbuttoned, never rips, and never shows a spot of dirt. What's more, it comes with a white scarf which is gaily tied around Mahoney's neck in every scene. One can sense Mahoney's brawny physique wanting to break free of this shirt and some he-man beefcake would have been warmly welcomed. In only one episode (at the end of Chapter Two) does Mahoney even get put into a real bondage situation. Indians capture him and tie him to a stake -- fully clothed, of course -- and set fire to the pile of wood under his feet, but just as his meat is about to be turned "extra crispy," he's rescued in a highly implausible fashion. Despite his sex appeal, Mahoney shows little interest in leading lady Virginia Herrick and has his best scenes with sidekick William Fawcett.
Why were westerns so often the weakest of the Saturday matinée serials?
For the record, the chapter titles for "Roar of the Iron Horse" are: (1) Indian Attack! (2) Captured by Redskins! (3) Trapped by Outlaws (4) In the Baron's Stronghold (5) A Ride for Life (6) White Indians! (7) Fumes of Fate (8) Midnight Marauders (9) Raid on the Pay Train (10) Trapped on a Trestle! (11) Redskin's Revenge! (12) Plunge of Peril (13) The Law Takes Over (14) When Killers Meet (15) The End of the Trail.
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