|Index||4 reviews in total|
"Blackhawk" was one of the later serials released by Columbia in 1952. It
was based on a popular comic book hero of the 40s and 50s. As a serial, it
makes for an exciting and action packed series of adventures running 15
chapters. It contains most of the serial "cliches" such as the chief
villain's identity not being revealed until the last chapter, car chases,
exploding warehouses, plane crashes and of course, the endless fights.
It suffers from budgetary restraints. For example, there is no heroine, the various hide-outs are all laid out to look the same (a fact that the story never explains), there is basically only one airplane in evidence (each Blackhawk had his own plane in the comic), and Blackhawk's gang is "economy size" in comparison to the comic. Notwithstanding, the serial as directed by Spencer Bennet and Fred Sears, remains a fast-paced action packed adventure.
Heading the cast is Kirk (don't call me Superman) Alyn as Blackhawk, and the lovely Carol Forman (my favorite serial villainess) in another of her ice cold no nonsense portrayals. In the supporting cast are a number of "B" movie veterans. John Crawford, Rick Vallin (in a dual role) and Don Harvey are members of the Blackhawks and Marshall Reed, Zon Murray, Michael Fox, Pierce Lyden and Rory Mallison (unusually sadistic) are on the wrong side of the law.
The story involves the efforts of an unnamed foreign power seeking to steal a secret fuel cylinder from the U.S. for their own use and the Blackhawks efforts to thwart them. As is the case in most serials, the fuel cylinder changes hands back and forth several times over the course of the 15 chapters.
Sadly the era of serials was drawing to a close when "Blackhawk" was produced, and for Alyn and Forman this was to be their last serial. At any rate, "Blackhawk" remains one of the best of the latter day serials.
This is not a really bad serial, but it could have been much better. There
is an abundance of action from chases to fisticuffs, and the cliffhangers
are fairly satisfyingly resolved in most of the chapters.
The problem is that these are the Blackhawks...known in comics for being daredevil pilots and righters of wrongs. First off, they spend more time walking or driving then they do piloting...and when they do run around together, they look like a bunch of chauffeurs heading into action.
The villains of the piece are not very well defined, and neither are their motives, other then being communists without being called communists.
Kirk Alyn is good as Blackhawk...but he doesn't have the same flair he had when he played Superman a few years earlier. He does look great in the uniform though...just like the comic book character. Blackhawk and the Phantom seemed to have made the truest transitions from comics to the screen in terms of costume, though Captain Marvel and Spy Smasher are very close as well.
A lot of later serials (1949 on up) didn't have the same panache as the older ones...probably because the genre was dying with the advent of television. Blackhawk is still good for a few thrills...and is definitely worth a look from any fan of the chapter plays.
Blackhawk was one of my favorite comic book characters as a child and this serial was eagerly awaited when announced that it was coming. We were all a little disappointed with the results. The lack of flying action was surprising and the planes were very ordinary. Kirk Allyn and John Crawford were great as the two lead Blackhawks but the casting of the others was off. This serial is average at best but probably good for Columbia. Sam Katzman definitely saved a few bucks by using the same locations over and over.
Blackhawk holds a special place in my heart as being one of the last great serials. Being a lifelong fan of the Blackhawk comics. I found the serial on VHS tape and watched it. It gets a lot of the details wrong and omits some of the Hawk's it basically uses Stan Olaf Chuck and Chop Chop while using Hendrickson as a mechanic and Andre is in the background mostly. but this is Kirk Alyn's show. the plot is a clichéd 50's plot a foreign country wants a secret weapon and only our black knights can stop them . not high brow entertainment but if you were a kid in the 50's this was as good as it got. and it still is . The Glory days of the serial had come to a end but the cliffhangers were still reliable money earners . gone were the glory days of The Adventures of Captain Marvel Superman and Flash Gordon. the Serials were falling in quality and produced the First Batman serial The Phantom and later on Batman and Robin and The Bruce Gentry serials. The magic was still there but the stories were not as good and the acting phoned in. With blackhawk you got a sense that these people enjoyed making it. and while the story is for the younger kids the adults will love it too as it lets them be a kid again and cheer on the good guys .. A bit of old magic still exists and Blackhawk proves it.
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