The Miraculous Blackhawk: Freedom's Champion
|The Miraculous Blackhawk:|
Theatrical release insert poster
|Directed by||Spencer Gordon Bennet|
(as Spencer Bennet)
Fred F. Sears
|Produced by||Sam Katzman|
|Written by||George H. Plympton|
Royal K. Cole
Sherman L. Lowe
|Edited by||Earl Turner|
|Color process||Black and white|
Sam Katzman Productions
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
The Miraculous Blackhawk: Freedom's Champion, or just Blackhawk, is a 1952 American 15-chapter science fiction adventure movie serial from Columbia Pictures, based on the comic book Blackhawk, first published by Quality Comics, but later owned by competitor DC Comics. It was Columbia's forty-ninth serial. Home video release has since given the serial the tagline: "Fearless Champion of Freedom".
Blackhawk stars Kirk Alyn as Blackhawk and Carol Forman as the foreign spy that must be stopped from stealing the experimental super-fuel "Element-X"; Alyn and Forman were also the hero and villain of Columbia's earlier Superman. Blackhawk was produced by the famously cheap Sam Katzman and directed by the team of Spencer Gordon Bennet and Fred F. Sears. It is considered cheap and lackluster, made in the waning years of studio movie serial production.
A flying squadron of World War II veterans, The International Brotherhood, is a private flying investigative force led by Blackhawk. They uncover a gang of underworld henchmen, led by the notorious foreign spy Laska, who reports to The Leader, a mystery man. During the serial, Blackhawk and his flying squadron set about bringing these criminals to justice, following a series of cliff-hanger adventures.
- Kirk Alyn as Blackhawk
- Carol Forman as Laska
- John Crawford as Chuck
- Michael Fox as Mr. Case
- Don C. Harvey as Olaf (as Don Harvey)
- Rick Vallin as Stan/Boris
- Larry Stewart as Andre
- Weaver Levy as Chop-Chop
- Zon Murray as Bork
- Nick Stuart as Cress
- Marshall Reed as Aller
- Pierce Lyden as Dyke
- William Fawcett as Dr. Rolph [Chs.4-7]
- Rory Mallinson as Hodge [Chs. 11-14]
- Frank Ellis as Hendrickson [Chs. 1-2,4,8-9]
- Distress Call from Space
- Blackhawk Traps a Traitor
- In the Enemy's Hideout
- The Iron Monster
- Human Targets
- Blackhawk's Leap for Life
- Mystery Fuel
- Blasted from the Sky
- Blackhawk Tempts Fate
- Chase for Element X
- Forced Down
- Drums of Doom
- Blackhawk's Daring Plan
- Blackhawk's Wild Ride
- The Leader Unmasked
Writer George Plympton described a production staff meeting where they listened to a recording of the short-lived Blackhawk radio series. Everyone at the meeting was "aghast at the confusing babble of accents." For Columbia's serial, all recruits of the Blackhawk squadron speak with standard American accents.
In chapter 3 Kirk Alyn performs a potentially dangerous stunt without the use of a stunt double. In order to save the life of squadron member Stan, who's tied to a stake in the path of a taxiing plane, Blackhawk (Alyn) runs up to the vehicle and turns it aside by grabbing the wing. A hidden pilot inside the plane steered it to simulate the movement. When writing this scene, the screenwriters were thinking of a small lighter wood-and-canvas plane, not the heavy metal aircraft used in the final scene; it could have easily killed Alyn if the stunt's timing had gone wrong.
William C. Cline describes the serial as a "pretty good airplane adventure" in his book In the Nick of Time. Despite this, Blackhawk was the last aviation serial; fliers had rapidly become less impressive in American popular culture, and science fiction was taking its place.
Made during the 1950s, Blackhawk was produced after the movie serial's heyday; many from this period were generally inferior to those made in the previous decade.
- Harmon, Jim; Glut, Donald F. (1973). The great movie serials: their sound and fury, Jim Harmon, Donald F. Glut, 1973, p. 160. ISBN 9780713000979. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
- Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 253–254. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
- Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "7. The Aviators "Land That Plane at Once, You Crazy Fool"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. pp. 161–163. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
- Cline, William C. (1984). "2. In Search of Ammunition". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 27. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
- Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture - The Decline of the Serial