Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: Zorro's Black Whip
(This post originally appeared in somewhat different form on October 4, 2004)
I wouldn't put ZORRO'S BLACK WHIP in the top rank of Republic serials, but it's very enjoyable. The plot is thin even by serial standards, and the villain is a scrawny little guy who doesn't live up to the great villainous standard of Roy Barcroft. But there's plenty of action, with numerous gunfights and a set-destroying brawl in nearly every episode. Stuff blows up real good a couple of times. The stunt work is excellent, with Babe DeFreest doubling Linda Stirling and Dale Van Sickel doubling George J. Lewis. Linda Stirling is considerably shapelier in the Black Whip costume than Babe is, so it's fairly easy to tell when they switch, but that's all right. Hal Taliaferro, also known as the early Western star Wally Wales, does good work as the villain's chief henchman. One of the opening credits says, "Zorro character created by Johnston McCulley". Well, yes, that's true, but it's got nothing to do with this serial, which never even mentions Zorro. I guess Republic figured they had paid for the right to use the name, so they might as well use it to try to boost revenues. All in all I had a very good time watching this and plan to start another serial soon.
(To expand a little on the original post, here's the film's summary from IMDB: Hammond, owner of the town's stagecoach line and a leading citizen, is opposed to Idaho becoming a state, and kills Randolph Meredith, owner of the town's newspaper, for endorsing it. Meredith's sister Barbara, expert with a bullwhip and pistol, dons a black costume and mask and becomes "The Black Whip", dealing a blow to Hammond and his gang each time they perform some heinous act in their efforts to keep the town, and their power over it, unchanged. Aided by government agent Vic Gordon, Barbara confronts Hammond in a final showdown just as the town votes on whether or not to accept statehood.
I haven't watched a serial in quite a while. It's hard to find the time. But I may try again before too much longer.)