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Stephen Gray (Lafe McKee) tries to build a dam near San Juan, which a
mysterious villain called the Black Ace tries to prevent at any cost,
mainly because he mines a secret goldmine in the area that is to be
flooded. So the Black Ace regularly sends his fleet of flyers known as the
Mystery Squadron to San Juan to threaten Gray and sabotage his
progress. But Gray is not one to give in easily either, so he sends for
ace flyers Fred (Bob Steele) and Bill (Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams) to guard
the dam and investigate on his behalf.
Initially though, Fred and Bill seem to be less than successful when
they are first (erroneously) identified as mystery fliers by Gray's own
daughter Dorothy (Lucile Browne), and are then kidnapped by the real Mystery Squadron and forced to jopin the outfit ... Fred and Bill manage
to escape though.
Eventually, Fred and Bill can even come up with quite a number of
suspects for being the Black Ace, including the local physician Doctor
Flint (Robert Frazer) - who knows the secret passsageways of the local
hotel everyone seems to be staying at a tad too well to be a good
guy - and Johnson (Purnell Pratt), Gray's competitor - who seems to be a
tad too happy about the Mystery Squadron's attacks to be one of the good
guys. And then there's Martin (Edward Peil sr), the owner of the local
hotel, who claims to be the actual owner of the goldmine ...
Of course, after many chases by foot, by plane and by automobile, which
also leads our heroes into the secret hide-out of the Mystery Squadron, an
airplane hangar inside a cave that can be mechanically closed to avoid
suspicion, neither of above suspects proves to be the Black Ace, but HanK
Davis (Jack Mulhall), who always posed as a friend of Fred and Bill and
who was actually the man who got them to work with Gray in the first
place. But in reality, he conspired with Doc Flint (whom he later killed)
and cheated Martin out of his goldmine, and Johnson, Gray's competitor for
the dam-project, actually investigated in that matter.
When he's found out, Hank Davis makes a daring escape by aeroplane ...
but in the end falls victim to his own planes in-built flamethrower ...
A typical Mascot serial in every respect: A mystery play with a
hooded villain, whose identity is not revealed until the very last chapter
(though this time around, the villain is rather easy to guess), a script
where narrative logic often enough gives room to action scenes to keep
things going, a house with more secret passageways than actual rooms,
suspicious characters aplenty, pulp mainstays aplenty, a few sci-fi
elements thrown into the mix, and of course lots of stunts and special
effects ranging from the quite ok to the dirt-cheap, and all carried by a
genuine love for the genre ... one just has to love these Mascot
serials (or hate them).
This one has the benefit of Bob Steele and Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams as
a quite capable heroic duo, some great airplane footage from the 1930's,
and some miniature airplane effects that look quite good for its time.
Serial-fans should not be disappointed.