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kenwal34

CURIOUS ABOUT SERIALS ??

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Ken, what a fantastic subject! I've not had time to read all the entries here but I believe you're discussing, "Zorro's Fighting Legion", with that wonderful musical soundtrack. As to David Sharpe being doubled, wasn't his stand-in none other than Bob Steele, who later became world famous as 'King of the Royal Mounted' and of course as one of the great cowboy heroes of the silver screen. I hope you'll consider "The Mysterious Doctor Satan" as one of your future who-dunits. Maybe your final project could be one of the two greatest serials ever made: Spy Smasher and G-Men Vs. the Black Dragon. Speaking of the latter, I was reading an old Life magazine from the early 40s over the weekend and there was an article on The Black Dragon spy ring being uncovered in Los Angeles and San Francisco!

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paty,

Good to hear from you.Bob Steele was not in any Republic serials.He did one for Mascot[Mystery Squadron].Tom Steele did some doubling,possibly for Sharpe.All your selections are excellent and in my collection.I will certainly give them my consideration.

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To MovieJoe & all others on this particular topic Though they obviously don't get much coerage these days. Those 2 mags. I always highly suggest-("Classic Images" & "Films of the Golden Age") Both cover Serial flix quite a lot!

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You're right, Myidolspencer, about those two great mags, Classic Images and Films of the Golden Age. I get them both and read them from cover to cover. Another real goodie is "FilmFax" and "Video Hound." Both of these are for the real film buffs who love to read about the B actors. One of these publications ran a big article on Republic's favorite serial bad guy, Roy Barcroft. It was written by one of his neighbors who actually lived near Barcroft. I always thought not only Barcroft but several of the Republic heroes and villains were more handsome and sexier than the heart throbs of the leading studios.

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Heres a serial trivia question...

What was the inspiration for ace director William Witney in creating those great serial fight scenes?

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Busby Berkely[spelling?] was Witneys inspiration. After seeing rhe way Berkely chorographed his dance routines, Witney applied the same methods to his fight scenes.The results being some of the most inventive fights on film.

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Ken and all others, AMC showed a few years ago a 2-hour documentary on Republic Studios and they spotlighted William Witney and those fabulous serials. Witney described--as you point out--how he revolutionized fighting sequences by shooting them in small bits. He said that before, the men would fight for a long time and be totally exhausted by the end of the scene. By watching Busby Berkely one day at Warners, he was struck by how the famed dance director only shot in very short sequences. He thus applied it to the art of fisticuffs, which was a staple of all serials. This documentary also interviewed Linda Stirling who still looked good and she joked how Republic's wardrobe had created a leopard outfit for her to wear in one serial although she was supposed to be a Tiger Woman. Other highlights were cliff-hangar scenes from "Spy Smasher," "King of the Texas Rangers," "Daredevils of the Red Circle," etc. Now, I'm getting ready to watch, once again, "King of the Royal Mounted," which looks stunning on disc.

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Paty,

I remember seeing an AMC special THE REPUBLIC PICTURES STORY. Is this the one your'e speaking of?

Another of Witneys trick was to shoot the scenes in a fast speed. When shown at normal speed,the fight scenes appeared more realistic.

I watched KOTRM not too long ago. And it does look and sound great on DVD. VCI did a great transfer. Also viewed JUNGLE GIRL,one of my many favorites.

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Ken Walk:

 

To enlighten the posters unfamiliar with serials, perhaps you should discuss the types of cliffhanger endings most often used. The worst type was the "cheat." There, the events leading to the cliffhanger are changed to eliminate the danger, hence the "cheat." For example, a chapter ends with the rope the hero is hanging to breaking and the hero falls. The cheat occurs in the next episode when the rope doesn't break and the hero climbs to safety. The best resolutions were the "follow-ups" which occurred when the solution follows up the cliffhanger. For example, if we see the hero go over a cliff on a motorcycle to end a chapter, the resolution could be that at the bottom of the cliff is a lake he lands in and swims to shore. Another acceptable cliffhanger resolution method is the "insert." This occurs when the resolution is shown at a different camera angle. For example, the car goes over the cliff to end a chapter, but the next episode shows that at the last instant the hero jumped from the car before it goes over the cliff.

 

From my recollection, Republic rarely, if ever relied on outright cheats. That studio's favorite method of resolution was the "insert" although most Republic serials had at least a couple of "follow up" resolutions. In Zorro's Fighting Legion, the first two chapter cliffhangers were inserts. At the end of chapter 1, we saw the rockslide crash down, but in chapter 2 we saw Zorro swing to safety on his whip just as the explosion above occurred. At the end of chapter 2, the Mission explodes, but at the beginning of chapter 3 we see Zorro swing through the window to safety at the last second before the explosion.

 

Sometimes the resolutions are almost unbelievable and the resolution to the cliffhanger in chapter 1 of Zorro's Fighting Legion is almost in that class. Considering that hundreds of tons of rock fell right where Zorro had been standing, I'm not sure that swinging the length or even twice the length of his whip would have been far enough to avoid being crushed. But hey, it's a serial, we don't want to think too much. We can be thankful Zorro wasn't in a Columbia serial. Then, the rocks would've fallen on him and he would have crawled out from under them. Which I suppose would be a fourth type of resolution -- the danger occurred but the serial hero was immune, he just dusts himself off when its over. That's almost as bad as a cheat.

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capn,

Thank you for adding to the thread .Your info is most helpful not only to the un-initiated but to fans like myself. Speaking of the "cheater" endings Republic used very few for good reason. William Witney stated in his book that Herbert Yates,president of Republic,viewed the daily rushes.If he discovered a cheater,there was h--- to pay. Still,a few did manage to get in. Columbia and Universal were notorious for cheaters. An example would be a plane crashing with our hero climbing out,dusting his clothing and going on like nothing had happened.

Stock footage is another issue. Republic made the best use of theirs, while Universal recycled even silent footage and music,often with less than ideal results.All serials had flaws to a degree.Seen every week these flaws were minimum,but viewed back to back on tape or dvd,they are more pronounced.Keep that in mind when seeing them today. Lastly, cliffhangers for super heros such as Superman or Captain Marvel were difficult.But as the capn probably remembers, we believed that their peril was real. There are so many facets to serial making that I invite others ,like the capn,to jump in any time with their comments pro or con. Thanks.

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Talk about penny pinching! Mascot pictures head Nat Levine was noted for squeezing the pennies. Shooting went on until there was no light left. One future director noted that in order to finish one last scene in the fading twilight, a batch of photo flash powder was illuminated to help light the set! Many noted actors honed their craft in these Mascot serials including JOHN WAYNE and HARRY CAREY .

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I'm a B-movie fan and I have somewhat of a DVD collection from Alpha Videos who do alot of B's and some old classics. One serial I did buy from that company is "Shadow Of Chinatown" starring Bela Legosi. I experienced the problem Ken spoke about of one DVD not containing the entire series. It's evidently split into 2 DVD's. I'll step out on a limb and say this is probably not considered one of the better movie series. However It wouldn't surprise me if this had some influence on the Green Hornet series as there seemed to be a Kato type side-kick along with the hero of the series. I think there was some of that cheating in some of the cliff-hangers as mentioned in an earlier post.

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lococardinal,

Shadow of Chinatown was an Independent production from Victory .It was considered middle of the road as far serials go,somewhere between good and bad.Herman Brix[bruce Bennett] and Bela Lugosi starred. ALPHA sometimes split their longer serials into three volumes.This may be the case of this serial.

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Way to go! You are correct.With a cast headed by Charles Bickford,Dick Foran, Buck Jones,Lon Chaney Jr and many more, one can see how the name was arrived at.

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Sunday Trivia.... The Lone Ranger is fondly remembered by serial fans .When the Lone Ranger says "Hi Yo Silver Away !" its not the voice of any of the featured actors you hear! Who provides the voice of the Ranger? Good luck!

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Never thought about it much & I wonder how many voices he actually did? Was he a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz? I'll give someone else a chance.

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A bit of background. Since five actors would be playing the Ranger, Republic wanted to make sure his identity was kept secret until chapter 15[last chapter].To insure this a full face mask was used,and this actors voice was used but not credited. Hint: the actor had a part in the serial THE LOST CITY.

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He did voices in over 100 films. (And was not given screen credit either!) Mostly cartoons but also as talking animals. The little guy's name was Billy Bletcher.

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loliteyou are correct about the radio Ranger. wnyzman is correct about the movie voice.Bletcher also furnished the voice for Don Del Oro in ZORROS FIGHTING LEGION.

What actor provided the voice of the Scorpion in THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL?

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Ken, i think it was Gerald Mohr (Uncredited) the scorpion voice. I'm a ilove lucy fan and i know he did a episode playing a doctor on the inferiority complex episode i could be wrong though? But thought i'd take a stab at it anyway...lolite.

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