The Masked Rider

THE MASKED RIDER Collector's Edition
THE MASKED RIDER Collector's Edition

90 years after its original release,
the original masked avenger rides again!

Masked Rider DVD Cover Final 400

Directed by Aubrey C. Kennedy -- Produced by William Steiner -- Associate Producer Patrick S. McGeeney
Starring Harry Myers, Ruth Stonehouse, Paul Panzer, Edna M. Holland, Robert Taber and Boris Karloff in his first existing film footage

The Discovery

21 reels worth of footage from this serial printed on tinted nitrate stock, were discovered in the fall of 2003 in the home of a former theater projectionist and memorabilia collector whose estate has been liquidated. Episode numbers were hand-painted on the original metal cans--and the can for chapter 7 reveals the original owner's enthusiasm for the serial, which he no doubt projected and enjoyed in his youth. One reel of the film had decomposed to liquid and was discarded by those handling the estate. Other cans were marked Episodes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14,

and 15. Upon inspection of the film, it was discovered that opening credits were deliberately excised from all of the existing reels, and the rest of the footage that exists appears to have been deliberately selected and condensed by the projectionist for screening as an extended feature at his theater. What is missing from the serial appears to have been of lesser importance to the action, in which there are few continuity gaps. As it turns out, SOME footage from every chapter of the serial DOES exist, though some narrative material from original chapters is close to complete, and for others it is not. Sometimes near the end of the serial the owner seems to have discarded first reels of a few chapters which perhaps he felt were less interesting than the chapter conclusions. Anyway, what was found appeared to have been crudely assembled as a four-hour extended feature version of the serial, containing almost all of the crucial action apart from the lost first chapter, the conclusion of Chapter 2, and most of the self-contained Chapter 11. The conclusion of the serial in the final reel exists intact.

The Story

The Masked Rider appears to have been the first great mystery-rider Western chapter play and the character may have served as a prototype for The Riddle Rider, The Lone Ranger, Zorro and all the great masked rider serials which followed it.

The setting of the story is Mexico. Violent bandit and cattle rustler Pancho (Paul Panzer), his rude henchman Santas and a group of raiders have sworn to drive the settlers out of the Border country. In the conflict that follows, Harry's father Bill is mortally wounded, and Pancho's hands are crushed, supposedly by the ranchers, though the act is actually committed by his traitorous and vengeful lieutenant Santas and his equally slimy compatriot Rodriguez, whom Pancho has offended by denying one his daughter's hand, and the other permission to pursue Rancher's daughter Ruth Chadwick. Pancho swears bitter revenge on the Burrels and the two factions resolve to destroy each other.

Pancho and his ruthless bandits menace Harry (Harry Myers), his sweetheart Ruth (Ruth Stonehouse) and younger sister Blanche (Blanche Gillespie), inflicting fiendish and deliberate tortures upon them. Pancho's demands are carried to his sworn enemies by the black-garbed "emissary of evil" the Masked Rider, bent on fulfilling the orders of Pancho.

Pancho's daughter Juanita, frequently assaulted by his men, is shocked by her father's cruelty and takes surreptitious action to prevent his murdering innocent captives when she can. Rugged "Ma Chadwick," Ruth's mother, supports the Rangers and whups into shape any who aren't tough enough to take on the bad guys.

The pre-code action is tense and convincing, and surprisingly violent, hard-hitting and even shocking in parts. An example: "See the miracle which prevents the arms of Ruth from being torn from their sockets. At the word of command, the horses start in opposite directions and Ruth faints ad the first pull on her wrists. Watch and wait for this episode." And the scene does indeed take place in the following episode, to surprising resolution. This serial pulls no punches. Pancho's bitterness and cruelty come across as frighteningly realistic, and the stark and dangerous cliffs and other locations in which the story takes place only add to the atmosphere of threatening danger which permeates the serial.

The Cast

Harry Myers as rancher Harry Burrel

Harry Myers (1882-1938) began acting in 1908 and played the title character in the serial Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. He wrote and directed over 30 films between 1914 and 1917. He is best remembered for his performance as the rich alcoholic who alternately befriends and doesn't recognize Charlie Chaplin in City Lights. One of his final screen appearances was as an uncredited detective in The Spider's Web.

Ruth Stonehouse as Harry's sweetheart Ruth Chadwick

Ruth Stonehouse began acting at an early age and appeared in dozens of shorts, many of which she wrote/and or directed, then moved up to larger projects such as the serial The Master Mystery starring Harry Houdini. One of the first female film directors ever, she was the "S" of the silent film company Essanay.

Paul Panzer as Pancho, cattle rustler and bandit

Paul Panzer, born in Bavaria, began his career acting in silent Shakespearian films, and achieved notoriety as the villainous Koerner in The Perils of Pauline. He would later appear in other serials including The Exploits of Elaine, Jimmie Dale Alias the Gray Seal, The Mystery Mind, Hawk of the Hills, The Black Book, and Tarzan the Tiger. As it was with many silent stars, his career took a back seat to the new crowd when sound came in and though he appeared, often uncredited, in sound films (he can be glimpsed as a graveside mourner in Frankenstein) until the early 1950s, he never again was given a leading role.

Edna M. Holland as Pancho's daughter Juanita

Edna was daughter of prominent comic stage actor E. M. Holland who was well-known on Broadway in his day. After The Masked Rider, she returned to New York where she performed in many Broadway shows, then later returned to film and performed mostly small roles in movies and on TV until the 1960s.

Robert Taber as Santas, Pancho's lieutenant

Taber acted in other films produced by Patrick McGeeney at Shamrock Pictures in San Antonio and stopped acting shortly after filming The Masked Rider, when he married former co-star Anna Q. Nilsson.

Marie Treador as Ma Chadwick, Ruth's mother
Marie was wife to producer William Steiner and also appeared in the serial The Yellow Menace.

George Chapman as Captain Jack of the Rangers

Blanche Gillespie
as Harry's young sister Blanche Burrel

? as the Masked Rider, emissary of evil

and Boris Karloff in a bit role as a Mexican roughneck in the bar scene of Chapter 2 (his earliest existing screen appearance). The serial, mistitled The Masked Raider, appears in at least one reputable biography of the actor's filmography.

You can see this 3-minute trailer now of The Masked Rider in full quality on the Squadron Painted Stallion, Zorro Rides Again and Beatrice Fairfax DVDs.


Film and Transfer Quality: The original nitrate image is absolutely stunning in its detail and midtones. As you can see in the framegrabs there are scratches on the film but they do not detract. The finest professional (Cintel) transfer equipment available was used to create a digital version of this film. You may pledge to own a DVD copy of this transfer, which will include an entirely new original score composed especially for this presentation.

This serial will be presented in 9 half-hour chapters with the crucial action of Chapter 1, the conclusion of Chapter 2 and a scene from Chapter 10 reconstructed by a new cast (see below) and most of the original cliffhanger division points retained, and mastered on 3 DVDs with illustrated chapter menus.

DVDs will be shipped in 3 volumes with 3 chapters to each volume. Volumes 1 and 2 are now complete. Volume 3 is now in preparation for release along with a printed companion volume containing the script for the missing Chapter 11 and many other extras and ultra-rare photographs.

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VOLUME 1 Contents:

EPISODE 1: “The Hole in the Wall.” When Pancho, master of the Haciendo and cattle rustler, is blindfolded and tortured after a gunfight with Texas Rangers near the Burrel Ranch, and Bill Burrell is shot dead in his attempt to rescue his young daughter, Pancho swears to drive settlers from the border country, and a mysterious black-clad rider appears to take deadly vengeance. Re-created from the original script and filmed in Pennsylvania in 2008. Featuring ALLYSON MALANDRA as Ruth, ADAM NEMETH as Harry, RICK DEACON as Pancho, MELANIE WALTERS as Juanita, STEVEN MONACO as Rodriguez and WAYNE ALBERT as Bill Burrel. Final 2 Minutes: The only surviving footage from original Episode 1. 28:39

EPISODE 2: “In the Hands of Pancho.” Pancho's men take young Blanche Burrel across the border and decide to brand her with a "message in fire" the ranchers will never forget. Includes footage from original Episodes 2 and 3. BORIS KARLOFF appears in the Dance Hall at the opening, pulling his gun on a Texas Ranger by the bar. Original break point: The Masked Rider takes Blanche across the river. Final 5 Minutes: Re-created from the original script, featuring LEA BARATS as Blanche, HOWARD WALTERS as Captain Jack of the Rangers,
MIHALYO as Pancho's men. 28:22

EPISODE 3: "The Capture of Juanita" contains all original footage. A gunfight ensues when Harry and Captain Jack of the Rangers attempt to recover the kidnapped Blanche, and Ruth is pursued by the Masked Rider. Includes footage from original Episodes 4 and 5. Narrative footage was discovered complete for these episodes. Featuring BLANCHE GILLESPIE as Blanche Burrel. 31:56

Commentary on Episodes 1 and 2 by Eric Stedman, who supervised the restoration and directed the re-created sequences, is also included.

The Re-creation

After trying writing up a radio script, preparing illustrations, and even considering shadow puppets and other methods of re-creating the lost Chapter 1, in which much crucial action takes place on which the rest of the serial is based, we finally decided the easiest and most effective way to re-present the missing material was simply to assemble a cast of interested actors and re-shoot it!

Chapter 1, and scenes from the conclusion of Chapter 2 and the opening of original Chapter 10 which were also missing, are now in the can and consequently you will now be able to understand the important action of the beginning of story and see it played out before you actively, as opposed to being given nothing but text summaries.

The new Chapter 1 was shot in Bucks County, Pa., at the Moravian Tile Works (which looks like a Mexican Hacienda) and local parks and riding stables and we're proud to be able to include it on the DVD!

The Re-creation Cast

DIRECTOR Eric Stedman
STUNT RIDERS Ron Blessington,
Caroline Guyer
PANCHO Rick Deacon
HARRY Adam Nemeth
SANTAS Colin Gordon
Allyson Malandra
JUANITA Melanie Walters
JACK Howard Walters
RODRIGUEZ Steve Monaco
MA CHADWICK Andrea Boyer
LOPEZ Jeff Mitchell
BLANCHE Lea Barats
MATT Matthew Imparato
GONZALEZ/Rider Jeremy Mihalyo
BILL BURREL Wayne Albert
LOOKOUT Robert Panzarella
COWHAND Todd Barats

"I loved the music score, both your title stuff and the mid-episode work. You'll like the fact that I didn't even KNOW there was restored footage in the episode . . . Very slick . . .That's how seamless it was to me . . . a great job" -- Hank Davis, author of CLASSIC CLIFFHANGERS

"A monumental accomplishment." --
Customer willielg

"Thank you so very much for sending me a copy of THE MASKED RIDER . . . one of my father's first films. I am so pleased to add it to my collection." --
Sara Karloff

"Great DVD!" --
Tom McGeeney, grandson of original Associate Producer Patrick McGeeney

Shipping Options
$ 19.95

There is nothing like this amazing and influential serial, which preceded the screen versions of both Zorro and the Lone Ranger and is wilder and more hard-hitting and realistic than either one. It commands your complete attention and never lets go. No stunt men here -- all the actors do their own riding, shooting, cliff-climbing and everything else. Shot on location at the Shamrock Photoplay Corporation studio in San Antonio, on the Medina river in Texas, and in Sabinas, Mexico.


EPISODE 4: “The Death Trap.” Ruth, disguised as a shepherd, tries to rescue Blanche from Pancho’s clutches but is interrupted by a raid conducted by Pancho's enemy Terrazas and his bandit army. The episode ends with Pancho's order to blow up all the entrances to Cache Valley and Ruth in mortal danger. Contains footage from original episodes 5 and 6, THE DEATH TRAP and PANCHO PLANS REVENGE. 32:21

EPISODE 5: “The Fight on the Dam.” Pancho decides to revenge himself on the Ranchers whom he believes responsible for crushing his hands by planning to blow up Medina Dam and flood the entire border region. The episode ends with a thrilling confrontation between Pancho and his men, the Burrel Bunch and the Masked Rider atop the dam. Contains recap footage from original Episode 6 and then the complete contents of original Episode 7, THE FIGHT ON THE DAM. 33:08

EPISODE 6: “The Conspirators Foiled.” During the night, the father of the bandit Terrazas, who was killed in Episode 4, raises an army to ride against Pancho while Captain Jack and Harry penetrate the labyrinth of rock near the river to try and find Ruth. As the episode concludes, the Masked Rider offers Harry a truce. Contains footage from original Episode 8. 23:11

A fantastic restoration, including an unprecedented accurately re-created originally-missing chapter, commentary, and action, mystery, and thrills galore!

"Kudos go to Eric Stedman of The Serial Squadron website who has recreated the missing Ch. 1 and is offering the remastered serial, including an excellent all new musical score with sound effects, in nine chapters. . . . an amazing silent serial discovery." -- Boyd Magers, WESTERN CLIPPINGS.COM
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$ 19.95

EPISODE 7: The Exchange of Prisoners / Harry’s Perilous Leap
The episode begins with a confrontation including the entire cast as prisoners are exchanged. Deadly double-crosses then abound as Santas turns on his master and the Masked Rider rides boldly into the Chadwick ranch intent on murder. After a prolonged pursuit, Pancho and his men capture Harry and intend to hang him from the rafters of the ruins of a stone mission.

EPISODE 8: To the Rescue / The Impostor
Harry assumes the identity of a rich Mexican merchant and succeeds in breaking into Pancho’s Haciendo, but his true identity is exposed. Pancho makes a grave error by shooting down one of his own men and is forced, along with Harry, and even Juanita to face a firing squad.

EPISODE 9: Coals of Fire / In the Desert’s Grip / Retribution
The principal cast members escape the firing squad by running into the open desert, and madness ensues, spurring fights motivated by pure hatred in which various characters, their clothing now in tatters, beat or torture the living hell out of each other. Pancho, furious at having lost everything, almost murders his own daughter and goes on a mad rampage, determined to claim a hidden cache of gold, and a wild and dramatic conclusion results in which Pancho meets his ultimate fate and the Masked Rider’s identity is finally revealed.

Scheduled for release in August 2014

Shipping Options
$ 19.95
To include a massive amount of ultra-rare supplementary material related to the serial, including stills from the collection of the original cameraman, background on all the actors and shooting locations, text of the original scripts for incomplete episodes, thorough plot summaries and annotations, and more!

To be released at the same time as THE MASKED RIDER DVD Vol. 3 and recommended for purchase at the same time as that volume so you can read about what will essentially be “deleted scenes.”

The product of over 5 years work by Eric Stedman, with contributions by Tom McGeeney and supplemental research by David Sorochty.
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