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

Thursday, October 6, 2016


Slingin' Sammy Baugh
KING OF THE TEXAS RANGERS (12 chapter Republic serial/1941). Directors: William Witney and John English.

Texas ranger Tom King Jr. (Slingin' Sammy Baugh) learns that his father (Monte Blue) has been murdered by fifth columnists who are out to sabotage certain oil fields. Since these fields  are out of his jurisdiction, King decides to fight against the saboteurs as a private agent. Working with King are Pedro (Duncan Renaldo of Zorro Rides Again) of the Mexican Rurales; intrepid reporter Sally Crane (Pauline Moore of Arkansas Judge); and Wichita Bates (Kermit Maynard). Working against King, although King is unaware of it, is John Barton (Neil Hamilton), who secretly reports to "His Excellency" (Rudolph Anders of She Demons) from his dirigible. Sammy Baugh was a football star who had a very brief career as an actor, and is perfectly adequate in this serial. Cast in the Lyle Talbot role of smooth bad guy, Neil Hamilton is slightly more interesting than Talbot, but hardly riveting. Duncan Renaldo probably makes the best impression as the likable Pedro, and others in the cast, generally Barton's henchmen, include Roy Barcroft and Jack Ingram. Chapter one has a great cliffhanger in which oil fields are set ablaze and a flaming derrick falls on top of a cabin with King and Sally inside. Even better is the explosion at the end of chapter two, which blows up both ends of a tunnel containing a train. There's a tense business involving a hood holding a grenade in order to force a man to obey his orders. In chapter seven a truck smashes into a shed with King inside. Cy Feuer's music helps keep things moving at a rapid pace. The serial's suspense is minimized, however, because we're clued into the ultimate bad guy's identity from the very beginning.

Verdict: Republic serial is not bad and not great. **1/2.

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