Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Lynch (Marshall Reed) takes orders from the unknown Leader.
GUNFIGHTERS OF THE NORTHWEST (15 chapter Columbia serial/1954). Directors: Spencer Gordon Bennet; Charles S. Gould.

A Canadian mountie, Sgt. Joe Ward (Jock Mahoney), and Constable Bram Nevin (Clayton Moore) team up to take on the minions of the mysterious Leader of the White Horse Rebels, a black-cloaked man on horseback who wants to take over the entire Northwest Territory and turn it into a lawless Republic. Lynch (Marshall Reed) is chief of the Leader's lieutenants, and Rita (Phyllis Coates) is a gal with secrets who seems to be playing both sides against each other. There's a lost mine from whence comes the gold that the Leader uses to finance his Rebels. Other characters include Inspector Wheeler (Lyle Talbot), to whom the heroes report; Indian Agent Stone (Joseph Allen); Walt Anders (Zon Murray), who tries to forge an alliance with the territory's unfriendly Indians; and Otis Green (Don Harvey), any one of which could be the Leader, although the serial doesn't work up much suspense as to his true identity. Two of the more interesting cliffhangers have Ward unconscious in a boat that is slowly sinking beneath the water, and Ward and Nevin tied to horses that the Indians hope will gallop away and tear them apart. Marshall is again an appealing villain, making the most of his great voice, and the other actors are all at the very least professional. This was not only one of the very last Columbia serials, but one of the very last serials period. The serial benefits from a rousing musical score and some well-chosen locations. Moore, of course, was TV's Lone Ranger and appeared in many serials, while Mahoney starred in The Land Unknown and Three Blondes in His Life.

Verdict: Standard but entertaining western cliffhanger. **1/2.

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