4 June 2008 | bloomjc
dardevils of the west a critic's view
DAREDEVILS OF THE WEST (1943) 4 stars out of 4. Starring Allan Lane, Kay Aldridge, Eddie Acuff, Robert Frazer, William Haade, George J. Lewis, Ted Adams, Jack Rockwell and Stanley Andrews. Written by Ronald Davidson, Basil Dickey, William Lively, Joseph O'Donnell and Joseph F. Poland. Directed by John English. A Republic serial in 12 chapters.
An inherent danger arises when a movie has disappeared or has been out of circulation for several years or decades.
Its qualities grow in proportion to the time it has gone unseen until its attributes almost reach mythic status.
Thus when it is eventually seen, it can sometimes lead to disappointment an almost, "is that all there is?" backlash.
Happily, it can be reported that such is not the case with "Daredevils of the West," which was screened on May 16 and 17 at Serial Fest 2008 in Newtown, Pa.
For years serial fans have read and seen excerpts of the four available chapters of this action-packed Western and have savored seeing the chapterplay in its entirety.
The question always has been would the serial as a whole maintain the quality of those existing episodes.
The answer is a definite and resounding "yes."
Republic was known for its non-stop action, stunt work, special effects and fight choreography in its heyday of producing serials and B-Westerns and "Daredevils" maintains and at time exceeds the studio's high standards.
From start to finish, the chapters roll by offering fans of the genre chases, explosions, gun battles, fistfights and well-done cliffhangers.
If features a strong and stalwart hero in Allan Lane, a plucky and fiery heroine in Kay Aldridge and two formidable action heavies in William Haade and George J. Lewis.
Forget the standard plot about wrecking the stage line to keep out settlers so the big land baron can buy up all the acreage for his cattle empire.
It is the way the story flows seamlessly from situation to situation without any let-up.
"Daredevils of the West" is a prime example of why Republic was tops not only in the serial arena but in the B-Western market as well.
After going unseen for 65 years, "Daredevils of the West" did not disappoint. It even surpassed expectations among those who fondly cherish the cliffhangers of yore.
Bob Bloom is the film critic and DVD reviewer at the Journal & Courier in Lafayette, Ind., and for the Gannett News Service. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bloom's reviews also can be found at the Journal & Courier Web site: www.jconline.com
Other reviews by Bloom can be found at the Rottentomatoes Web site: www.rottentomatoes.com.