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

Thursday, November 13, 2014


THE BLACK WIDOW (12 chapter Republic serial/1947). Directors: Spencer Gordon Bennet; Fred C. Brannon.

"Wait! Open the tunnels and we'll cremate them!" -- Sombra. 

Sombra, aka The Black Widow (Carol Forman),  heads a group of nasties who are out to take over America and are desperate to get their claws on a new rocket formula. Sombra takes orders from her father, Hitomu (Theodore Gottlieb), who appears in a special chair via molecular teleportation, and comes off more like a Yiddish comedian on the Borscht circuit than a world-class international villain. Two reporters investigate the Black Widow: Joyce (Virginia Lindley/Lee), who is experienced, and Steve Colt (Bruce Edwards), whose only experience is as a writer of detective fiction and who never misses a chance to be obnoxious and sexist with Joyce [true, he also saves her life on more than one occasion].  Forman [Federal Agents vs Underworld Inc.] who is Asiatic by way of Alabama, fairly drips with steely disdain and evil; Virginia Lee proves plucky and makes an acceptable heroine, but Edwards is utterly colorless as the alleged hero. Some of the cliffhangers in this are recycled, but there are nifty ones as well: Joyce, stuck in a crate, nearly tumbles out of an airplane, and is nearly beheaded by a falling pane of sharp glass. Then there's the old gag with a bomb in the car. The business with Sombra's henchmen using a gas to change the color of their car while in flight is clever. All in all this is a very entertaining Republic serial. Tom Steele and Ramsay Ames are also in the cast.

Verdict: Sombra will getcha if you don't watch out! ***.


Gary R. said...

Sombra's dad, Theodore Gottlieb, was later well-known as Theodore, a.k.a. Brother Theodore, a sardonic performance artist who specialized in what he called "stand-up tragedy."

William said...

I know he was later known as "Brother Theodore" but that's about it. Thanks for the info. He made a delightfully campy Hitomu!