Virginia Pound, a native of Grand Rapids, MI, appeared in six serials under the names Lorna Gray and Adrian Booth. “Deadwood Dick” (‘40 Columbia) was her first. This was followed by work in “Flying G-Men”, “Perils of Nyoka”, “Captain America”, “Federal Operator 99” and “Daughter of Don Q”.
Whereas her role of the sinister Vultura in “Perils of Nyoka” was probably her most famous, her favorite was “Daughter of Don Q”. Adrian stated for Boyd Magers in WESTERNS WOMEN, “Outside of Vultura, I enjoyed the bow and arrow work and jujitsu and all the tricks. There was
Adrian also spoke of working with costar Lionel Atwill in “Captain America”, “It was wonderful to play with such a good actor. He had instructed his cohorts to put me inside this glass case to asphyxiate me. It was a large case on brass legs, high up off the ground with three brass straps across the top you screwed down. They put some stuff that looked like gas inside it. Atwill got so mad, so excited, because they couldn’t get the screws unscrewed and I was losing oxygen. They just barely got me out in time. I was almost fainting. He was a dear; and George J. Lewis was in it, he was my friend. We made a lot of pictures together.” One was the serial, “Federal Operator 99”.
Adrian also mentioned that in her second serial, “Deadwood Dick”, she learned a valuable lesson. “Director James Horne was a bundle of energy. It was crazy because I did my own hair, long curls. We had a scene on location that was a cattle stampede. Just before the stampede, the mayor and a whole lot of people were on a stand. They had red, white and blue gauze all around the side. On one side of the stand were funny little rickety steps. Now it’s getting ready for the stampede. They shot off pistols and the cattle start to stampede. The camera’s rolling—and Don Douglas (who played Deadwood Dick) and I have to walk down these rickety steps. I’m in long skirts under skirts under skirts—and we have to tear open the gauze, run underneath the stand, tear open the gauze on the other side and run about 15 yards to a barn door, get in the barn and all the time these cattle are stampeding. The assistant director, the only assistant director I’ve ever worked with that was not nice, had a fit with me because one of my curls came off! Little did I know you should never do things like that. You should always have a double. Another time there’s this little, bitty house, burning on three sides, the camera is facing the side that’s not burning. I’m in long skirts and have to climb up on a chair, climb up on this funny old kitchen table, climb up on a box, then pull myself up through the roof while the thing is burning. And I did it.” Adrian concluded her reflections on “Deadwood Dick” explaining, “We were on location and I had to be rescued off a rock. (Stuntman) Cliff Lyons came to me afterward and said, ‘Honey, you’re new to this business, aren’t you? You don’t have to do these things. This is what they pay doubles for.’ That’s when I learned a few things.”
“The Green Archer”
I’ve always had a tough time with Victor Jory as a hero. Even during the ‘60s when the Yukon born actor—who played in numerous Hollywood productions including “Gone With the Wind”, “The Fugitive Kind” and “The Miracle Worker”, starred as a San Diego police inspector in the syndicated TV series “Manhunt”—a period when I liked just about anyone on the tube in a squad car or on a horse—I couldn’t envision him on the right side of the law. No matter how hard I tried, I kept picturing him as a villain, specifically as Injun Joe in the ‘38 version of “Tom Sawyer” as he went about with murderous (and gleeful) intent after Tom and Becky Thatcher in that awful cave. This was my first encounter with the actor and it definitely made a lasting impression upon me, one I just couldn’t seem to shake even when I later caught him as the horse loving good guy in the first film version of Will James’ “Smoky”.
With his hooked nose, high cheekbones, deep voice, stern countenance and menacing cobra eyes, he always impressed me as someone very sinister, a quality, which nonetheless served him well when he starred in his only other cliffhanger outing, “The Shadow” (‘40 Columbia), since let’s face it, the Shadow, hero or not, is a bit on the creepy side.
In Columbia’s other 1940 release, “The Green Archer”, based on the famous Edgar Wallace story (filmed first in ‘25 and later in ‘61), Jory plays Spike Holland, an insurance investigator out to clear the reputation of his pal Michael Bellamy (a very youthful Kenne Duncan) killed in a train accident on the way to prison to serve a term for a crime he did not commit. The reality is that it is Michael’s own brother Abel, juicily played by the always-dependable James Craven, who is responsible for framing his sibling. In addition, Abel—who at the drop of a hat reverts to one of serials’ most animated megalomaniacs—is the brains behind a gang of thieves who operate out of Garr Castle, an ancient place festooned with traps and hidden passages which is reputedly haunted, some say by the Green Archer, a figure from the past who once was known to protect the inhabitants.
After Abel secretly imprisons Michael’s meddling wife Elaine (Dorothy Fay) in the castle, her concerned father (Forrest Taylor) and sister (Iris Meredith), aided by Spike, show up to try to solve her disappearance. Also appearing are two masked bowmen, both impersonating the mythical Green Archer, one bad and controlled by Abel (veteran heavy Jack Ingram looking rather silly in his bargain basement Robin Hood duds), the other a mysterious and unknown do-gooder whose true identity I will not reveal.
For the most part, “The Green Archer” is a very old-fashioned looking serial. This is not due exclusively to the acting style (although a bit if it is admittedly on the overripe side) or even the often sluggish directorial work of James W. Horne as much as it is the predictable—even by the standards of the time—plotting and claustrophobic structuring of writers Morgan B. Cox, John Cutting, Jesse A. Duffy and Horne. Basically, for 15 chapters, it’s Jory and the Green Archer running around Garr estate following clues left by the arrow-firing masked hero and in the process avoiding Abel’s multitude of traps. In short, it’s pretty repetitive stuff and even with the usual suspension of belief necessary to enjoy serials, not the most scintillating or imaginative 15 chapters to sit through.
The supporting cast is the usual assortment of dim-witted thugs including the aforementioned Ingram, a young Anthony Warde, Bud Osborne, Kit Guard, the ubiquitous Charles King and Robert Fiske. Iris Meredith and Dorothy Fay make little impression as the women involved and Forrest Taylor, Joseph Girard and Fred Kelsey are along for the ride.
As mentioned earlier, Craven is much more entertaining than either Jory or the masked Green Archer, particularly when throwing child-like tantrums and terrorizing his gang—which he treats like his pack of wanton children—with threats and worse. When he enters a room with his underlings the room inexplicably darkens despite his identity already being known to all, an ideal touch for this highly dramatic and self-absorbed villain.
Being a fan of secret hideaways, I also like the hydraulic automobile elevator covered by grass which the crooks use to enter Garr castle. Little effort or imagination, however, goes into creating the cliffhangers. On the whole this is a creaky and shopworn serial lacking good pacing, imaginative situations and characters you give a damn about.
And for the record, I haven’t changed my mind about Victor Jory. I still don’t trust the guy.
Ken Maynard was with Cole Bros. in ‘37, ‘38 and ‘40. Their circus not only headlined serial stars Maynard and Clyde Beatty, but spectacular horsewoman Dorothy Herbert as well.
As Alice Brent in “Mysterious Dr. Satan” (‘40), the equestrienne was logically able to display her horsebacking skills at the stables on the spacious estate of C. Montague Shaw (Mr. Scott). In Ch. 1, Dorothy, having been trussed up by agents of Dr. Satan, still manages to mount her horse and jump him through a window with her hands still tied behind her back. According to Jack Mathis’ Republic records she was paid $100 for one week’s work in the serial, the only screen appearance for the New York born circus star, except for a short subject (released to home collectors by Castle), “Here Comes the Circus”, in which Herbert jumped her horse while riding blindfolded.
Dorothy was born November 19, 1910, and died in May ‘94 (married name Kennard) in Ventura, CA.