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Serial Report
    - Chapter 119
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    - Chapter One Hundred
    - Chapter Ninety-Nine
    - Chapter Ninety-Eight
    - Chapter Ninety-Seven
    - Chapter Ninety-Six
    - Chapter Ninety-Five
    - Chapter Ninety-Four
    - Chapter Ninety-Three
    - Chapter Ninety-Two
    - Chapter Ninety-One
    - Chapter Ninety
    - Chapter Eighty-Nine
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    - Chapter Eighty-Six
    - Chapter Eighty-Five
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Chapter One Hundred Nineteen

"SON OF THE GUARDSMAN"
(1946 Columbia)

Loose your arrows and draw your swords, Columbia tackles Sherwood Forest in one of their worst serials. Probably made to use the costumes left over from one of their Robin Hoodish A’s

So, where do we begin with this hodgepodge? Reckon we should start with jackleg director Derwin Abrahams, undoubtedly Columbia’s most talent challenged serial director (right). Born in 1903 in NY, Abrahams studied the business from 1936-1941 as assistant director on 27 Hopalong Cassidy Bs and a few Paramount Zane Grey Westerns. He began his directorial career in 1941 with two Hoppys, nine Starretts at Columbia and a few Monograms with Jimmy Wakely and Johnny Mack Brown.

In 1946 he hobbled through his first serial, “Hop Harrigan”, followed by “Chick Carter, Detective” (a bit better) but then came “Son of the Guardsman”, his third serial in one year and absolutely his worst. Was he just plain tired, bored or just didn’t give a…? His only other serials were the somewhat better “Tex Granger” in ‘48 and “The Great Adventures of Captain Kidd” in ‘53. Let’s just say as a Columbia serial director he falls considerably short of Mack V. Wright, Ray Taylor, B. Reeves Eason, certainly Spence Bennet, Les Selander and Wallace Fox. Even the much lamented James Horne instilled a certain fast moving comedic charm to his serials. Abrahams’ chapter endings were always weak with often poorly staged, lame resolutions.

To be somewhat fair, looking at “Son of the Guardsman”’s leads doesn’t give Abrahams much to work with. Star Robert Shaw as David Trent affects all the charisma  of a wet rag. Duan Kennedy (a former riveter at Lockheed Aircraft) as Louise Markham worked uncredited in 23 films from ‘43-‘47. Her only credited roles are in Universal’s “Royal Mounted Rides Again” (‘45) and as Louise Markham in “Guardsman”. She probably made more money as a riveter! Both are non-descript leads whose careers went virtually nowhere.

Wheeler Oakman (Lord Markham), Duan Kennedy (Louise Markham), Jim Diehl (Allan Hawk).

Robert "Buzz" Henry (Roger Mowbry), Robert Shaw (David Trent).

To the better, young Robert “Buzz” Henry—later one of the top stuntmen in the movie industry—is Roger Mowbry, a young Sherwood Forest waif who quickly aligns himself with Robin Hoodish men of the greenwood outlaws Jim Diehl (a bland actor if ever there was one who toiled at Columbia from ‘46-‘52 in seven serials and several Durango Kid Westerns and went absolutely nowhere) as Allan Hawk, our Robin Hood-like stand-in, and dependable, likeable character actor Hugh Prosser, a veteran of 17 Columbia and Republic serials, as Allan Hawk’s right arm, Red Robert. (Prosser was a character player from ‘36-‘52 and died at 45 following a road accident while filming “Man From the Alamo” in Gallup, NM.)

(L-R) Hugh Prosser (Red Robert), unknown (Forest outlaw), Jim Diehl (Allan Hawk), Al Ferguson (Forest outlaw), "Buzz" Henry (Roger Mowbry), unknown, unknown (Forest outlaw).

(L-R) Hugh Prosser (Red Robert), Robert Shaw (David Trent), Jim Diehl (Allan Hawk), "Buzz" Henry (Roger Mowbry), Wheeler Oakman (Lord Markham), unknown, unknown (Forest outlaw).

Although there’s no lack of movement and action for 15 chapters, “Son of the Guardsman”, even more than normal for a Columbia serial, is filled with the regulatory usual plots, counterplots, switched allegiances, treachery, double-crosses, and myriad captures and escapes—all common to Columbia serials. The plot? In medieval England, Charlie King (in a pivotal role but for some reason unbilled) is Sir Edgar Bullard, the traitorous, House of Bullard robber-baron Uncle of David Trent (Bob Shaw). Sir Edgar has hidden away a vast treasure belonging to his nephew and also plots to destroy the rival House of Markham headed by Lord Markham (Wheeler Oakman) and his daughter Louise Markham (Duan Kennedy). David Trent (Shaw) is loyal to the House of Bullard until he begins to suspect his deceitful Uncle of having killed his parents—which he has! David joins the wrongfully outlawed men of the greenwood, aiding Allan Hawk (Jim Diehl) and Red Robert (Hugh Prosser) hoping to overthrow Sir Edgar. Young Roger Mowbry (Buzz Henry) joins the swashbuckling band when his family is murdered by Sir Edgar’s men. Lord Markham (Oakman) is also working with the outlaws to usurp Sir Edgar who is plotting to offer Lord Markham’s daughter Louise (Duan Kennedy) to the nefarious Mark Crowell (Leonard Penn) to increase his own power. David intervenes to defend her honor. As the plot machinations roll on, English noblemen Sir William Pryor (I. Stanford Jolley) and Lord Medford (Robert Barron) align themselves with Sir Edgar (as does treacherous rival Lord Hampton (John Merton) in Ch. 10.  The big secret—in Ch. 12 Roger Mowbry (Henry) is revealed to be the long lost heir to the throne of England. Who wouda  guessed?

A tattered Ch. 15 unfolds in a less than spectacular “Let’s wrap this tritemare up fast”! Wrapping up loose ends after 14 chapters of our heroes being unable to thwart the evildoers, in Ch. 15 Crowell (Leonard Penn) is killed by an outlaw arrow, followed quickly (and somewhat humorously) by Lord Medford (Barron) being imprisoned, Sir Pryor (Jolley) elects to side with David, Lord Hampton (Merton) is captured, Sir Edgar (King), gloating over the hidden treasure, is killed, and Ted Adams as an emissary from London suddenly appears to Crown Roger King of England. Oh yeah, and David and Louise plan to wed. All in a whiz-bang 15 minutes!

Also along for the merrymen-mixup are Ray Bennett as Duncan, a servant in the House of Bullard loyal to David, Belle Mitchell (a terrible actress) as Bennett’s traitorous wife and with Frank Ellis, Al Ferguson, Ray Jones and Hank Bell as Sherwood Forest outlaws; Stanley Blystone as a House of Bullard soldier, Terry Frost is at one time both a forest outlaw, a Bullard guard and a house of Markham horse soldier in Ch. 4 then one of Lord Hampton’s (Merton) men in Ch. 11; John Hart is House of Bullard soldier Martin but also pops up as a forest outlaw—with no lines—in Ch. 2. Guess director Abrahams figured no one would recognize him without his House of Bullard helmet; Jock Mahoney is Captain Kenly of the House of Markham; and Lane Bradford as a House of Bullard guard.

(L-R) Unknown (Bullard guard), Robert Shaw (David Trent), Terry Frost (Bullard guard), Leonard Penn (Mark Crowell), Charlie King (Sir Edgar Bullard(, Ray Bennett (servent Duncan), I. Stanford Jolley (Sir William Pryor).

Describing what’s bad about “Son of the Guardsman” is like describing what’s orange about an orange. Here’s just a few glaring and ridiculous gaffs in this masterpiece…

  • At one point early on, Duan Kennedy has “disguised” herself as a boy to evade capture by Sir Edgar’s men. Although David rescues her and is with her for quite some time, he never realizes Duan is a girl—which is just plain ludicrous because she has plenty of female attributes. Even when Mark Crowell recognizes Duan as Louise, David (LOL) simply stands blandly nonplussed beside her!
  • When Duan is “believed” a boy she has short black hair. Unveiled as Louise she suddenly has long, blonde curly hair!
  • Even after Daun is revealed to be Louise Markham, there are shots of her in Ch. 8 dressed as a boy. I reckon the editors—or director Abrahams—didn’t realize what chapter they were on!
  • At one point in Ch. 5 David is using his bow and arrow. After Duncan (Ray Bennett) talks to him, David simply drops his bow and arrow on the ground and dumbly just walks away!
  • In Ch. 5, David, having believed Duan is a boy, calmly learns she is Louise and seems to accept it as if nothing has changed! Wow! What an actor Bob Shaw is.
  • Both outlaws and rivals very easily enter and leave the castle time after time. You’d think there would be guards galore!
  • In Ch. 13, Duan captured by Mark Crowell (Leonard Penn), somehow thinks she is Roger (Buzz Henry). They look nothing alike!
  • You gotta see the ending to Ch. 12 and resolution in Ch. 13. One of the worst!

Cutting all the slack in the world, we still squirm, struggling for this turkey to end!

(L-R) Robert Shaw (David Trent), Leonard Penn (Mark Crowell), Robert Barron (Lord Bedford.)


“Son of the Guardsman” was recently restored by The Serial Squadron website <www.serialsquadron.com> and is available on DVD.

Cover of "Son of the Guardsman" DVD.

For 1940’s “Green Hornet” serial when Gordon Jones as Britt Reid was in full costume as the Hornet his voice was dubbed by Al Hodge who played the character on radio.

 

 

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