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After the young boy s father, a US army officer, is killed in an Indian raid, he becomes White Eagle being raised by Indians. White Eagle believes that the Indians and white settlers can live together and works to see that happen. However, a gang leader who has his own reasons for not wanting that peaceful union sets out to stir up as much trouble between them as possible. Chapter Titles: 1.Flaming Tepees 2.The Jail Delivery 3.The Dive into Quicksands 4.The Warning Death Knife 5.Treachery at the Stockade 6.The Gun-Cane Murder 7.The Revealing Blotter 8.Bird-calls of Deliverance 9.The Fake Telegram 10.Mystic Dots and Dashes 11.The Ear at the Window 12.The Massacre Invitation 13.The Framed-up Showdown 14.The Fake Army General 15.Treachery Downed. Bonus Features: Scene Selection, Trailers, Cowboy Montage Video. Product Specs: 2-DVD9s; Dolby Digital; 290 minutes; B&W; 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio; MPAA NR; Year 1941; SRP - $29.99.
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Out west in Gold country, where the whites have ruthlessly invaded Indian territory, a new treaty is being signed between Chief Running Deer (Chief Yowlachie) and General Randolph (Lloyd Whitlock), as negotiated by White Eagle (Buck Jones), a man of unknown origins raised by the Indians, who is trusted by both races. But the treaty needs to be ratified, and this is opposed by "mysterious Dictator of Crime" Dandy Darnell (James Craven), who knows there is gold on land designated for the Indians. He orders his thugs to prevent the treaty from getting to Washington, but their attempted ambush of the courier, Express Office superintendent Gardner (Edward Hearn) is foiled by White Eagle and his sidekick, Grizzly (Raymond Hatton) who have accompanied Gardner. But Darnell, assumed to be a respectable merchant, has plenty of other schemes to prevent the Treaty from being ratified.
The cast includes a large number of actors familiar to fans of serials, including Roy Barcroft, Charles Stevens, Kenne Duncan, Richard Cramer, and John Merton. Edmund Cobb gets to play a good guy, Dave Rand, division superintendent for the Pony Express, with Dorothy Fay as his sister Janet, who has to be rescued a few times. James Craven's crew of thugs has several returning from their previous serial, "The Green Archer" including Jack Ingram, Charles King, Al Ferguson, Eddie Featherston, Kit Guard, Bud Osborne and Constantine Romanoff. The basic setup is the same as that of the 1932 feature "White Eagle," and a few specific situations are used in the serial, including the stealing of Pony Express horses by fake "Indians," an attack by riled-up townsmen on an Indian village and rescue of the heroine from a mountain lion. But the feature's main bad guy is a horse thief posing as a government buyer, there is nothing about a treaty, and a "forbidden love" element was included to emphasize the question of White Eagle's origins. Unfortunately the serial has a less-believable plot with attempts at humor that don't always work, including poorly written "comic" dialogue which even Raymond Hatton can't save, having been given far too many lines to read. Many of Dandy Darnell's schemes make as much sense as those in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon, and some of the cliffhanger resolutions can only charitably be described as "weak," though the logic improves in later chapters. Buck Jones' role limits his opportunities to engage in the humor, except in a couple places at the expense of Grizzly. Even Darnell's henchmen aren't up to the usual level of bungling expected in a serial directed by Horne. But the sight of John Merton as renegade Indian Ronimo is far more amusing than anything done intentionally, and there are some interesting minor characters, especially Roy Barcroft as the gambler 'Poker' Pendelton, whose presence is a mystery until late in the serial.
Columbia, like Universal, knew the value of stock footage, and here there is quite a bit of it, especially in the Indian attacks, where the grainy, flickery and too-fast silent-film scenes are added to the action, though Universal did a better job of splicing it into their serials. A few scenes from the 1932 feature were also recycled in the serial. Much of the introductory text, shown without narration, is repeated in each chapter. This is typical for Columbia serials of the time, but on this one the action of the previous chapter is often poorly described. The music, by Lee Zahler, is of a style familiar from other Columbia serials; not really inappropriate, but often sounding too upbeat and cheerful for the dramatic action. But while no classic score, it's at least as good as anything else in this serial.
VCI's edition, # 8523 is on two discs, from a print that is clean, free of significant dirt and scratches, well-framed and with excellent gray scale. The sharpness is good, though not outstanding, with some of the MPPDA certificate numbers a little hard to read. The focus goes a bit softer at the sides of the frame suggesting a 16mm reduction print, noticed mainly in the credits and not much of a problem. The sound is clear and low in distortion. The "Screen Gems" titles at the chapter ends identify the print as having been made for television; they replace the ones announcing the following chapter, and references to "next week" were roughly spliced out of the film in Knox Manning's narration. Not a major loss, given the fine quality of the print otherwise. "Extras" are limited to a one-minute "Cowboy Montage" of clips from many films at the start of each disc and three serial movie trailers, for "The Oregon Trail," "Riders of Death Valley" and "Adventures of Red Ryder."
This serial will be of most interest to those who like other serials directed by James W. Horne, such as "The Green Archer" and "Terry and the Pirates." Buck Jones fans may not be totally thrilled, but it isn't terrible, though Universal's "Riders of Death Valley," made the same year, contained more humor that actually worked. VCI's good-looking print is a big help, making it easier to watch than it might have been, and there are interesting performances in the smaller roles by many well-known 'B' western and serial movie actors. But the total length is almost five hours, so as with all serials, a day or more between chapters is the best way to watch it.
And what minions they are!!! A virtual Who's Who among B-Western cronies and henchmen, some of them even playing good-guy roles! I spotted Bud Osborne, Al Ferguson, Eddie Cobb, Roy Barcroft, George Chesebro, Charlie King, John Merton, Jack Ingram, Hank Bell, Kenne Duncan, Black Jack O'Shea and Edward Hearn. They pop in and out and most wind up pushin up daisies by the end!
As with a Columbia serial (especially one directed by James W. Horne) you get lots of running about! Everyone's in a hurry! At times it seems comical with characters running hap-hazardly around and about, through doors, down streets, leaping onto horses!!! But that's what Columbia delivered, Fast-Paced Action! Non-Stop Thrills! And this serial really delivers!
Buck is in fine form as White Eagle, mature yet still very atheletic. Raymond Hatton is side-kick Grizzly and does well boasting, providing laughs and even saving Buck on occasion. Dorothy Fay is the love interest and doesn't get in the way too much.
The print is BEAUTIFUL!!! Sharp, crisp, clear! A joy to watch! Thank you again VCI for doing such an outstanding job!
If you're a serial or Buck Jones fan this is an absolute must for your collection. I'm really glad I made this purchase!
Buck Jones is one of my favorites, but he didn't look like he was having a lot of fun delivering some of the lines that were written for him. Raymond Hatton should have stuck with his taciturn characterization that he was so good at in the Rough Riders and other series. The writers had him delivering lines that were completely inane.
The cliff hangers were ludicrous; at the end of a chapter a half ton of rocks drops on our hero's head and in the beginning of the next chapter, Buck gets up and dusts himself off.
The villain was laughable. The bad guys were all over the place. It was like watching a Chinese firedrill.
I give it three stars because of Buck Jones.