21 December 2007 | rljones-8
Classic Western Ahead of Its Time
First, the film location for this serial was the desert country east of St George, Utah, famous today for Arches and Capitol Reef National Parks and the Moab adventure rock country. It was made famous by Zane Gray in his Rainbow Trilogy anchored by Riders of The Purple Sage.Had this movie been made a mere three years later it would have been breathtaking. As it is it has a genuine punch. Republic fans now know the great William Witney was rushed into the directorship because his boss was stoned, and never gave up his seat, a mere twenty one. There is a real and natural feeling in this serial, a genuine sense of myth such as we get from the classics. The scenes of The Rider, a beautiful and mysterious girl who shoots singing arrows( this would have been my choice for the title) and wears a long "Chief's" head dress, are memorable. A scene, well into the movie, in which she and her painted stallion are trapped in a box canyon, is one of the best done and convincing things I've ever seen. Music lovers will hear echos of Wagner and Litz in the sound track( Les Preludes, by Litz, was used for Flash Gorden serials) The plot, while fiction, is well founded in history, and quite plausible It is a stretch to see the beloved Duncan Renaldo as a heavy, however. The La Sal mountains of southern Utah can pass for New Mexico and Santa Fe. It was in blazing the Santa Fe trail that the name Studebaker enters history as a maker of wagons. Including Kit Carson as a boy was another good touch. Today, revisionist history and modern western writers are not so kind, and Colonel Carson comes across as less than honorable in his dealing with the New Mexico Navajo. But it won't ruin the movie which is pretty darned honest as well as mythic.