Thursday, April 24, 2014

Emperor Forerunners: Saturday Matinee Cliffhangers - The Fighting Devil Dogs

"Westerns and serials in cinema were always interconnected in the "Golden Age" of motion pictures, and the best of them combined solid, if shallow, storylines with slam-bang action, and some of the best of these had their influences on my style. B-westerns routinely showed that action, romance, comedy, and even music could be mixed to provide great entertainment. Among serials, Republic's 1938 The Fighting Devil Dogs (with its fantastic villain, The Lightning),  helped me envision a milieu of heroes, villains, and plots that go beyond those influences but remember their past, and The Emperor owes The Fighting Devil Dogs a tip of the crown." - Charles Lee Jackson II

The Fighting Devil Dogs (1938) was a 12 chapter movie serial focusing on the efforts of two Marines to stop a terrorist with a taste for mass slaughter. As heroes, it featured Lee Powell (cinema's first Lone Ranger, who later starred in the "Frontier Marshals" movie series) and Olympic medal winner Herman Brix (who would experience much greater cinematic success when he changed his name to Bruce Bennett, appearing in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Mildred Pierce, and Dark Passage). Fighting Devil Dogs was a Republic serial, directed by that able and ubiquitous pair William Witney and John English.

However, as Charlie said, The Fighting Devil Dogs, is famed among aficionados for introducing "The Lightning," said to be the first costumed villain, whose distinctive head gear and cloak could easily have inspired Darth Vader's.

For masked villains, edge-of-the-seat action, and movie serial thrills check out Charles Lee Jackson II's homage to cliffhangers and B-movies,  The Emperor's Gambit. A 1960s hero and his intrepid band of adventurers battle a worldwide conspiracy.


 "Nonstop action, thriller fans will love it." -Joe Vadalma, author of The Chronicles of Morgaine the Witch.

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