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Mystery Mountain

USA 1934
produced by
Nat Levine for Mascot
directed by Otto Brower, B. Reeves Eason
starring Ken Maynard, Verna Hillie, Edward Earle, Edmund Cobb, Lynton Brent, Syd Saylor, Carmencita Johnson, Lafe McKee, Al Bridge, Ed Hearn, Bob Kortman, Wally Wales, George Chesebro, Hooper Atchley, Gene Autry, Smiley Burnette, Jack Kirk, Lew Meehan, Jack Rockwell, William Gould, Tom London, Philo McCullough, Frank Ellis, Art Mix, Curley Dresden
written by Sherman Lowe, Barney Sarecky, B. Reeves Eason, Ben Cohn, supervising editor: Wyndham Gittens, musical director: Abe Meyer

serial

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Railroad bos Blayden (Edward Earle) is determined to build a tunnel through Mystery Mountain, however, his efforts are constantly thwarted by a masked and cloaked villain called the Rattler, who sabotages the construction work and terrorizes the workers. Blayden suspects Corwin (Lafe McKee) of the Corwin transportation comany to be the Rattler, out to fight his competition - but then Corwin himself is murdered.

Desperate to find out who the Rattler is, Blayden asks for the assistance of Ken Williams (Ken Maynard), railroad detective, who soon arrives with his pal, klutzy reporter Breezy Baker (Syd Saylor).

Soon, everybody is under suspicion to be the Rattler, at least for a while, including Corwin's daughter Jane (Verna Hillie), who continues her father's work, local physician Dr Edwards (Hooper Atchley), who owns some land on Mystery Mountain, telegrapher Mathews (Lynton Brent), and even Ken himself.

Eventually though, quite a few shoot-outs and chases later, Breezy stumbles over the Rattler's secret: The Rattler has a secret, large goldmine in Mystery Mountain in question, and he's hell-bent to defend it. Plus, he has a large collection of lifelike masks so he can impersonate and throw suspicion onto pretty much anyone. But that leaves one question open ... Who is the Rattler ?

Finally, Ken goes hand-on-hand with the Rattler, tears off his mask, and it turns out to be ... Doc Edwards. But Edwards not only gets away, he also beats up Ken's horse Tarzan. This gives Ken an idea: to ultimately prove who the Rattler is, he uses Tarzan's animal instincts when he gathers all the suspects and lets him pick the culprit. To everyone's surprise, Tarzan does not pick Doc Edwards (the audience knows by now the Rattler was wearing another of his masks), but suddenly, Blayden the railroad boss makes a hasty getaway - and rides right into his own mine, which he had rigged to blow up at a certain time ... and boom, there goes the Rattler !

 

A typical, nevertheless highly effective Mascot serial: It contains all the usual elements: a masked villain, a secret goldmine, secret passageways, a convoluted murder mystery, and of course massive fist fights, shoot outs and horse-riding. The Rattler's mask has to be one of the silliest - it's simply sunglasses, a fake nose and a fake mustache - yet somehow it works. The murder mystery contains quite a few inconsistencies, plotholes and even cheats (which was not unusual for Mascot-serials: There is no explanation as to Blaydon wants to on one hand build a tunnel through Mystery Montain when he on the other hand wants to guard his precious property, and why would the Rattler also make attacks on the Corwin transportation company, oh, and how come Blayden, who is the Rattler, has been seen alongside the Rattler in early episodes. Of course, all this doesn't hurt the serial too much, as the emphasis is less on

logic and deduction but on all-out action - and on that account, Mystery Mountain does just great.

 

By the way, cowboy star Ken Maynard was hired by Mascot to do a feture - In Old Santa Fe - and two serials, Mystery Mountain and Phantom Empire. And even though both In Old Santa Fe and Mystery Mountain were great successes for Mascot, Ken Maynard proved to difficult to work with for Mascot president Nat Levine, so he let Maynard go prematurely and gave the lead in Phantom Empire to country singer and bit player Gene Autry, who had a bit part in Mystery Mountain, shooting Ken out of his saddle at the end of episode 6. The gamble proved successful, and Autry soon became one of the greatest B-Western stars of his time.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD