The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1938)

Approved   |  Action, Adventure, Western


The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1938) Poster

A short plot summary finds Wild Bill Hickok (Bill Elliott), the U.S. Marshal in Abilene, Kansas, opposing the Phantom Raiders, a gang of renegades raiding the cattle drives over the ... See full summary »


6.7/10
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21 July 2011 | bkoganbing
4
| Enter Wild Bill Elliott
After many years of bit roles Bill Elliott was given the lead in this serial with Wild Bill Hickok as the protagonist/hero. The Great Adventures Of Wild Bill Hickok not only gave Elliott a career, but a name for the billing marquee. Henceforth he would be always known and billed as Wild Bill Elliott.

Though even today some folks have a taste for these old time serials,I'm not one of them. Nevertheless this serial established Elliott as a cowboy hero for the juvenile trade. Later on Elliott did some more adult oriented westerns that weren't half bad.

Elliott as Hickok is appointed United States Marshal in Abilene, Kansas and at the same time Texas cattle herds are attempting to drive up the Chisholm Trail to Abilene and the projected railroad head. There'a gang called the Phantom Raiders who are a bunch of carpetbaggers running Texas who want to keep the cattle there so the owners can sell at the carpetbagger prices. When they start to move the Phantom Raiders stop at nothing to keep that first big herd from making the drive.

Which includes disguising themselves as Indians, stirring up real Indians, trying both to sabotage the railroad coming west and the cattle drive coming north. All in all they keep Elliott in the saddle continually for 15 chapters.

As serials go this is not bad, but these things with the ever present cliffhangers can eventually prove wearying.

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Trivia

Gordon Nance (nee Gordon Elliott) had toiled in films from 1925-1938, always using and getting paid as Gordon Elliott (credited or uncredited), with the bulk of his films prior to this serial made for Warners, 89 of over 120 films. He had good featured credited roles in films at Universal, and westerns at Warners with Dick Foran, Republic with Gene Autry and Sol Lesser's Principal Productions with Smith Ballew, with Elliott as the head-honcho villain, and also about as many uncredited small roles and bits as he had credited roles. His record of appearing in films for over thirteen years before ever actually seeing his name above a film title or topping a cast list isn't the longest in film history, but it's way up the list.

Following Columbia's first three serials, all produced for Columbia distribution by Weiss Brothers, Larry Darmour's independent company took over the out-source task of producing the Columbia serials, and continued to do so into the mid-40s, even after Darmour's death in 1942, and the first one was "The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" with, as seen on the film on original release and every piece of paper connected to the serial, the name of Gordon Elliott as "Wild Bill Hickok" topping the cast list. Or, to be specific, the actor Gordon Elliott billed as Gordon Elliott as "Wild Bill Hickok." Gordon Elliott's next film for Larry Darmour Productions was the first of his starring westerns, "In Old Arizona", billed as Gordon Elliott again, although some of the posters showed him as Gordon (Bill) Elliott and, when his next starring western, "Frontiers of '49" was released, his billing name was changed to Bill Elliott. His billing name remained as that until he was signed by Republic in 1943 and, there, became Wild Bill Elliott (as a billing name), until 1946 when Republic upped the budgets in his westerns and changed his billing name to William Elliott...in 1946. He was billed as William Elliott from that point onward until he made a series of 12 westerns at Monogram/Allied Artists from 1951-1954 billed, for the 2nd go-around, as Wild Bill Elliott, and then just plain Bill Elliott, for the 2nd cycle of the name, as a detective in five feature films distributed by Allied Artists. Meanwhile, and in-between, Columbia re-released "The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" when Elliott was still at Republic being billed as William Elliott...and Columbia then re-worked the credits on the re-release prints and changed his original-print billing to William Elliott...which, has nothing to do with how he was billed on the original release, and (as William Elliott) is incorrect when shown as his billing name for this 1938 serial, made eight years before he was ever billed as William Elliott.

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Action | Adventure | Western

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