The story centers about a group of vigilantes organized to protect miners in the picturesque but sinister days of the California gold strike. Jim Benton (Dick Foran) and Tombstone (Buck ...
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The California-Yucatan Railroad, being built for the good of Mexico, is under siege by a gang of terrorists hoping to force its sale; no one can prove their connection to profiteer Marsden.... See full summary »
Two investigators for a stagecoach company are assigned to find out why the company's stages keep being ambushed. They discover that the culprits are white men disguised as Indians, and they set out to discover who is behind the plot.
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The four Dalton brothers learn that a friend of their father has been murdered by a group of land-grabbers and swindlers. The clean up the gang leaders and members, and then proceed to rob ... See full summary »
The story centers about a group of vigilantes organized to protect miners in the picturesque but sinister days of the California gold strike. Jim Benton (Dick Foran) and Tombstone (Buck Jones) lead their "riders", Pancho Lopez (Leo Carrillo) , Smokey (Noah Beery Jr.), Borax Bill (Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams) and Tex (Glenn Strange), in a raid on a fake Protection League, organized by crooked connivers to gain control over the biggest claims in the Panamint region. They have barely restored peace and withdrawn to the saloon to be toasted by the grateful miners when the wounded Chuckawalla Charley Morgan (Frank Austin), an old desert rat, is carried in and reveals he has traced the Lost Aztec mine...a search in which he and Benton were partners, since the latter had grub-staked him. Chuckawalla asks Benton to give his share to his niece, Mary Morgan (Jean Brooks as Jeanne Kelly), and gasps his last breath. Just then, Benton gets a tip that Wolf Reade (Charles Bickford) and his gang of ...Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Back in 1918 Universal Studios gave the world the first feature film that cost over $1 million to make. That was BLIND HUSBANDS directed by Erich von Strohiem. It was 23 years later when Universal also made the first serial that cost $1 million. By this time the Laemmle's, Snr. and Jnr. were long gone and I wonder when Carl Laemmle the elder would have said about spending so much on a serial?
Well that is the movie I am here to-night to talk about. RIDERS OF DEATH VALLEY stars Dick Foran, best known as a singing cowboy. He's backed up by Buck Jones (Edward D. Wood Jnr's fave cowboy actor, there's a bit of trivia for you!), Jean Brooks, Leo Carillo, Noah Beery Jnr. and Guinn "Big Boy" WIlliams. On the side of the bad guys there's Charles Bickford, Lon Chaney Jnr., James Blaine and Monte Blue.
This is a western serial with 4 staff writers working on it so you just know not a single cliché will be left untapped. Characters have names like "Tombstone", "Pancho", "Smokey", "Trigger", "Tex", "Borax Bill", "Cactus Pete" and "Chuckawalla Charlie". There's even a location called "Funeral Pass" (what, no "Deadman's Gulch"? How'd they miss THAT one?). Have I mentioned the plot yet? I haven't? Sorry!
James Blaine and Monte Blue want to run all the prospectors out of Death Valley and grab all their claims for next to nothing. To do they they enlist the help of "Wolf" (Charles Bickford) and his gang. Butch (Lon) is the second in command and just as quick on the trigger as his boss. The good guys are known as The Riders and they just happen to know the location of a lost Aztec gold mine with a fortune in ore. For 15 chapters Wolf and his gang try to get it and are constantly thwarted by the Riders. Complications include framing good guy Jim (Dick Foran) for murder, sabotaging mining equipment, stampedes, explosions, shootouts and LOTS of fistfights! Sadly the cliffhangers are not as good as the ones offered by rival serial makers Republic and Columbia. One example: Jim and Mary are about to be run over by a stampede at one chapter ending but in the next chapter we see the horses have miraculously all missed them! Another one, Jim and Tombstone are going into the mine on an elevator when a minor villain sabotages the cable and they plunge to the bottom. In the next chapter they simply are pulled up again and neither has so much as a bruise!
Charles Bickford had worked as a villain for Cecil B. DeMille in movies like DYNAMITE (1929) and the rarely seen THIS DAY AND AGE (1933) so he knew how to be a convincing bad guy. For Lon Jnr this movie came after MAN MADE MONSTER and before THE WOLFMAN and he was still hoping to get more leading man roles. Noah Beery Jnr does not have much to do in this one but he and Lon would work together again, this time on the same side in OVERLAND MAIL (1944). Monte Blue and also worked with Chaney in the Republic serial UNDERSEA KINGOM (1936).
So do I like this movie? YES! It may be predictable but thanks to so many great character actors and competent direction by serial vet Ford Beebe it is never dull.
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