Very Little Rubber Burned
Scott Lothrop | Tampa, FL, USA | 01/10/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"For such an early serial this kind of fun, but it really doesn't have very much auto racing. Most of the time our heroes are running around trying to keep the bad guys from destroying a movie film which proves the hero's innocence of murder, or a confession signed by the real killer, or the deed to valuable property. The cliffhangers are pretty weak, and there's a gigantic cheat at the end of Chapter 8: A plane crashes head-on into the ground, but in Chapter 9 it's sitting unscathed on the ground.
Mascot was one of the so-called "poverty row" studios, turning out lots of serials up until 1935, when Mascot merged with two other small studios to create Republic Studios. They had a lot of good people at Mascot, many of whom were very successful at Republic, but the quality of Mascot's output looks pretty crude today. This film was cut up quite a bit over the years, and there are places where the sound disappears for a few moments. Perhaps the most interesting part of this serial is the actors involved.
Jack Mulhall was an elegant leading man in silent films. His web site lists 408 movies in which appeared between 1910 an 1977, as well as many guest appearances on TV. Frankie Darro's movie career spanned from the silent era well into the '60s. He was a notable child star. In serials he rode alongside Gene Autry and Rin-Tin-Tin, often doing his own stunts. He was perhaps best known for his work as one of the "Dead End Kids." He also was one of the actors inside Robby the Robot in the sci-fi classic "Forbidden Planet."
We all know Jason Robard, Jr., but had you ever seen Jason Robards, Sr.? He's in one of his typical roles here as Drummond, one of the bad guys. Robards also starred in silent films, often as a clean-living rural hero. In the sound era he began playing character roles, almost always as an arch-villain. Lola Lane began in show business at age 12 as a pianist for silent films at a local theater. She and her sisters Priscilla Lane and Rosemary Lane were stars at Warner Brothers in the '30s and '40s. Lola retired from the screen in 1946 to go into real estate.
Actually, the best actor in the picture is probably Edwin Maxwell, as a delightfully smarmy industrial villain."