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Riders of Death Valley (1941)

Approved | | Action , Western | 1 July 1941 (USA)
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 ... See full summary »


Ford Beebe, Ray Taylor


Sherman L. Lowe (screenplay) (as Sherman Lowe), George H. Plympton (screenplay) (as George Plympton) | 3 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dick Foran ... Jim Benton
Leo Carrillo ... Pancho Lopez
Buck Jones ... Tombstone
Charles Bickford ... Wolf Reade
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ... Borax Bill
Lon Chaney Jr. ... Henchman Butch
Noah Beery Jr. ... Smokey
Jean Brooks ... Mary Morgan (as Jeanne Kelly)
James Blaine ... Joseph Kirby
Monte Blue ... Rance Davis
Glenn Strange ... Tex, a Benton Rider
Roy Barcroft ... Henchman Dirk
Jack Rockwell ... Henchman Trigger
Ethan Laidlaw ... Henchman Rusty
Richard Alexander ... Henchman Pete Grump


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 They have barely restored peace and withdrawn to the saloon to be toasted by the grateful miners when the wounded Chuckawalla Charley Morgan (Frank Austin), an old desert rat, is carried in and reveals he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 <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A MILLION-DOLLAR SUPER SERIAL! With a thousand teeming thrills in 15 exciting chapters! (original posters) See more »


Action | Western


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1 July 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Los jinetes de la muerte See more »

Filming Locations:

Mohave Valley, Arizona, USA See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(15 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Chapter Titles:
  • 1. Death Marks the Trail!
  • 2. Menacing Herd!
  • 3. Plungle of Peril!
  • 4. Flaming Fury!
  • 5. Avalanche of Doom!
  • 6. Blood and Gold!
  • 7. Death Rides the Storm!
  • 8. Descending Doom!
  • 9. Death Holds the Reins!
  • 10. Devouring Flames!
  • 11. Fatal Blast!
  • 12. Thundering Doom!
  • 13. The Bridge of Disaster!
  • 14. A Fight to the Death!
  • 15. The Harvest of Hate.
See more »


Chapter 6, being pursued by Wolfe's gang, Jim tosses a keg of powder into their path and explodes it, but after the smoke clears you can see a whole keg. See more »


Pancho Lopez: I guess this is going to be the end of this, uh, assoc...
Borax Bill: Association.
Pancho Lopez: Assocination, no?
Borax Bill: Yes,
Pancho Lopez: Well, I say no.
Borax Bill: All right then... No.
Pancho Lopez: What it gonna be - yes or no?
Borax Bill: I don't think they'll hold another meeting. Can't you understand?
Pancho Lopez: [nodding his head in the affirmative] No.
Borax Bill: [disgustedly] Adobe brain...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Main Title is composed with bones. See more »


Ride Along
Written by Milton Rosen and Everett Carter
Sung by Dick Foran and chorus over opening credits in all episodes
See more »

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User Reviews

A Universal serial . . . you have been warned.
20 February 2006 | by reptilicusSee all my reviews

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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