John Ward gives a good performance as "Lucky Arnold," the ruthless brains
behind the counterfeit gang; he works initially through Ed Valdin (played
by Tristram Coffin) and Quist (Ted Adams). Tristam Coffin does a great
job, I felt, as a fairly weak, but charismatic third-in-demand. Some of
his expressions are priceless: he steps out of a room for a moment, and
we comes back in, Holt has picked a fight and has floored three or four
of the other gang members. You can just feel Valdin's WTF helplessness.
I was sorry that Valdin gets killed halfway through the serial.
For cliffhangers, we've got shootings, tumbling off cliffs, car crashes,
riverboat explosions, falling from fire escapes, airplane bombings, and
even big jungle spike traps. There were enough characters in this one
that I wasn't even annoyed by Columbia's "Next Week" previews which can
never feature the main character without reducing the cliff hanger's suspense
--but, as these previews here tended to focus on what the criminals were going
to do next, I rather enjoyed them.
I liked this one well enough that I'll buy a better print of it later on.
Squeezing 15 chapters onto one DVD just has to lose a lot of detail. As
it was, this $3 Alpha Video copy from Oldies.com was still pretty clear
and well-worth the money for Jack Holt's tough-guy dialog alone. One of
my favorite scenes has Holt in front of a firing squad being offered a
blindfold. He scoffs: "Forget it. This is the one thing in life I
haven't seen yet."
Holt appeared in a serials of Zane Grey westerns and apparently was a
big name during the silent film era. Better than most, he transition to
the talkies, but stayed mainly in low budget westerns/adventure stories.