The Serial Squadron Cinema Cliffhanger Archive


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Blu-Ray / DL-DVD


"This is the first of the arrows of vengeance which shall find their marks in the oppressors of freedom."

In medieval England, Young Roger Mowbray, when his grandparents are robbed and burned to death in cold blood by Sir Edgar Bullard's soldiers, is taken in by a group of "free" forest outlaws led by Alan Hawk and Red Robert who are committed to combatting Bullard's oppression, and fights alongside them in battles against the soldiers with his sling as they attack with bows and arrows.

David Trent, who lives in Bullard's castle with his uncle, begins to discover the cruelty with which Bullard treats his subjects and, when he is threatened with execution for aiding one of the outlaws who knows information about the murder of his father, a royal Guardsman and friend to the King, turns against Bullard and also joins the outlaws and helps rival Lord Markham build a force against his uncle.

Bullard captures Louise, daughter of Markham, who disguised herself as a boy to try and escape his wrath, and tells her he intends to sell her off as a bride for profit to one of his enemies but David defends her honor as well and the battles escalate between the outlaws and Bullard's forces until all-out war breaks out involving other noblemen as well, and it is discovered that Bullard was not only responsible for the murder of Trent's father and stole his treasure, but also has been working to prevent the long-thought-lost true king, young Prince Richard, from ascending the throne of England.

Unfairly maligned by author Alan Barbour, this low-budget but ambitious and very entertaining serial features a large cast of second- and third-stringers who were still available in 1946, after the war, when male actors were difficult to find and many of the available ones had moved up into "A" pictures. Jock Mahoney, a new leading man on his way up, appears in the serial as a guardsman.

This 1940s budget G-rated serial version of
Game of Thrones includes some unintentionally funny moments including scenes in which characters act as if they do not notice that pin-up girl Daun Kennedy as "Louis" Markham is female because no effort has been made to disguise her womanly figure. And though more than a few unkempt wigs and hastily-filmed chapter endings involving row-boats are also in evidence here (and who had hairdressers in Sherwood Forest?), the serial has an excellent script and an engaging and progressive story, and plenty of energy, which is interesting to watch with actors you have not seen in leading serial roles before.

Son of the Guardsman was one of only two cliffhanger serials set in medieval times, the other being Adventures of Sir Galahad, and reuses castle sets from feature films of the time. Not a frame of stock footage is used in the serial, either; all its footage is original and shot specifically for the production. While Republic at this time began to start re-using cliffhangers from other serials, Columbia at this time became more ambitious and experimented with costume epics like this one and the also entertaining The Desert Hawk.

Watch the sample chapter presented here to see how a higher quality restored image improves the entertainment value of this unusual post-war chapter play, named as it was so as not to interfere with the announced but never-made Republic Robin Hood serial planned for Roy Rogers.

Includes all 15 episodes painstakingly stabilized and restored from 2 16mm prints; about 4 hours 45 minutes

Also includes a Robin Hood audio drama with Basil Rathbone & Robin Hood Operetta recording

The Blu-Ray includes about 17GB of content, the DL-DVD about 7GB.

Note: Why is the image size in the Blu-Ray 960 x 7200 rather than larger? The reason is that this serial is composed of 15 20+ minute episodes and includes nearly
5 hours of content in total, and is therefore much longer than a 3 hour Republic serial like Spy Smasher or the 2:47 The Crimson Ghost, and includes some variation in print sources as well, and we have discovered that using not too large of an image size actually looks better in the end result for this sort of project in terms of motion and smoothness or lack of grain than a larger one. An image which requires more compression and therefore becomes more grainy ends up presenting motion which is less smooth. For this project, in which quality of smoothness and motion are important, the selected image size creates better motion and less grain or image artifacting, and fits better on one Blu-Ray disk and actually makes the finished project look better overall!

(Highest quality motion & sharpness, includes all extras; recommended)
From an HD transfer; 960 x 720 image burned on Blu-Ray with excellent smoothness, sharpness & motion, more than twice the quality of motion & image smoothness of the average DVD.

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From an HD transfer; 960 x 720 image burned on DL-DVD same basic content as the Blu-Ray