The Blackhawk Movie Serial
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: If you've read my review below on the movie serial, you know I've never been enthused about it. Well, I finally did something about it. I have edited the serial down to a two hour feature movie. I removed numerous redundant car chases and fist fights and two extraneous subplots. There is still plenty of action but now it is more focused. I think the flow and the pacing of the movie are much improved while maintaining the spirit of the serial. If anyone is interested in seeing this new edit of the Blackhawk movie, contact me. I have it available on DVD-R.
RELEASED BY: Columbia Pictures, 10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232-3195
COPYRIGHT: 1952 by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
SCREENPLAY BY: George H. Plympton, Royal K. Cole, and Sherman L. Lowe
PRODUCED BY: Sam Katzman
DIRECTED BY: Spencer Bennet and Fred F. Sears
Blackhawk Kirk Alyn Laska Carol Forman Chuck John Crawford Mr. Case Michael Fox Olaf Don Harvey Stan/Boris Rick Vallin Andre Larry Stewart Chop Chop Weaver Levy Hendrickson Frank Ellis Click here for more credits. Chapter titles- (click on the chapter title for a synopsis of the story and on "lobbycard" to see the cards displayed in theaters to advertise the chapters.)
1. Distress Call from Space!
2. Blackhawk Traps a Traitor!
3. In the Enemy's Hideout
4. The Iron Monster
5. Human Targets!
6. Blackhawk's Leap for Life (lobbycard)
7. Mystery Fuel!
8. Blasted from the Sky!
9. Blackhawk Tempts Fate (lobbycard)
10. Chase for Element X!
11. Forced Down!
12. Drums of Doom!
13. Blackhawk's Daring Plan
14. Blackhawk's Wild Ride
15. The Leader Unmasked! (lobbycard)
REVIEW: This black and white, 15 part serial comes on two VHS tapes. The Blackhawks battle a group of spies and saboteurs, led by the beautiful Laska and the sinister Mr. Chase, bent on destroying democracy. We are never told explicitly who the spies work for, but there is little doubt that they are supposed to be Soviet agents.
The first half dozen episodes move along nicely with some reasonably well staged aerial and ground action. A subplot has Stanislaus replaced by a double named Boris. Unfortunately, the last half of the serial degenerates into a repetitive round of one car chase and fist fight after another. By the end, we don't much care whether or not the agents are caught. David Chapman points out that the subplot involving Stan's impersonator and the female agent, Laska (or Leska), are based on Blackhawk No. 31.
From a production stand point, the movie is just adequate. The Blackhawks' uniforms look fine, but for aircraft they are reduced to flying a C-45 and AT-11. These are interchanged freely, apparently on the assumption that we will not notice the difference. The aircraft don't even carry the Blackhawk insignia, a puzzle since surely this would have been easy and inexpensive to do. There is actually very little flying. Most of the movement is by foot or automobile. One special effect produces an animated robot flying saucer that attacks the team in the air and on the ground (I've since learned this was reused from one of the Superman serials). It's a decent effect, but nothing in the serial compares well to the production of serials like the Flash Gordon movies.
The Blackhawk serial is available from Amazon.com. It is a must buy for the completist. For less dedicated fans, I'd suggest renting it first.
Click here for a list of references that provide more information about the Blackhawk serial.
Press Book for the Blackhawk Movie
(Click on thumbnail picture for large picture)
This is the front page of a four page pressbook for the serial. The studios sent the pressbook to all theaters that booked the serial. The pressbook contained a description of the film and many ads that could be cut out and printed in a newspaper. If you look in a newspaper at the movie section all the ads for films were cut out of pressbooks. The front page carried a reduced copy of the movie poster, the Blackhawk emblem, and slogans that claimed big sales for this movie. The second page (the reverse of this page) provided suggestions to the theater on how to promote the movie, including sales of the comic books in the theater and working with the local distributor of the comic books. It informed him that the local comic distributor had received a promotional package from Hearst Magazines, Inc., the national distributor of Blackhawk to tie into the movie. It reproduced a letter from G.R. Mardcum, Director of Newstand Sales for Hearst, explaining all the things Hearst planned to do to promote the movie. And it also reproduced a camera ready sample of the Blackhawk emblem, as used in the movie, that the theater could reproduce to make it's own promotional materials, and provided suggestions like putting the emblem on the theater employees' uniforms (this was back in the time when they wore uniforms).
Thanks to David Chapman for providing the press book cover sheet and information about its purpose.
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All characters, pictures, and related indicia on these pages are the property of DC Comics. All text is ©1998-2001 Dan Thompson, except where otherwise noted. This homepage is not intended to infringe on the copyright of DC Comics to its characters, but was created out of gratitude to all the wonderful writers, artists, and editors who created the Blackhawks.