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Category:    Home > Reviews > Serial > Western > The Last Frontier (1932/VCI)

The Last Frontier (1932/Serial/Western)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C     Chapters: C+



RKO was a major studio, but early on, it experimented with the idea of doing Saturday Morning Serial.  The result was the one-off Western The Last Frontier (1932) here in later Commonwealth release prints.  It runs twelve chapters as follows:


1)     The Black Ghost Rides

2)     The Thundering Herd

3)     The Black Ghost Strikes

4)     The Fatal Shot

5)     Clutching Sands

6)     The Terror Trail

7)     Doomed

8)     Facing Death

9)     Thundering Doom

10)  The Life Line

11)  Driving Danger

12)  The Black Ghost’s Last Ride



Lon Chaney Jr. (credited at the time as Creighton Chaney) is The Black Ghost, dawning his mask to break up land stealing terrorists.  As a genre piece, it is historic and interesting, but the cliffhangers are mixed and the program in general shows its age.  This was an early sound film, let alone serial, so this would have been more impressive in its time and Western fans will find this more appealing than most.  Dorothy Gulliver is cowgirl Betty, enough of a match for Tom Kirby (Chaney) outside of his masked antics.


Chaney is very young here and the acting is of the stage variety, with the actors standing around more and being a bit louder in their dialogue delivery, but there is just enough energy to keep this 70+ years old chapterplay going.  General Custer, Wild Bill, Kit Carson and the usual stereotypical “Indians” are also included.  If watched in the better spirit it was intended, it is not bad and not as racist as it might have been.  For serial and Western fans, it is a must-see.


The 1.33 X 1 monochrome full frame image shows its age and is lucky to be in the shape it is in.  With Warner, the owners of RKO since they acquired Turner Entertainment a few years ago just now getting to work on that long-neglected catalog (though Turner did spend some serious money to save it, that was not enough) now there’s, there is no guarantee that any materials from this serial have survived in their vaults.  You can expect some variances throughout in quality even more than usually exists in such serial sets, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is just as aged, with background noise throughout.  It is not as “hot” as many an untreated film soundtrack we have heard on DVD, but it is limited.  The only extras are text biographies of the two leads and director, plus trailers for four other serials and a general VCI Serial releases trailer, but the chapters run over 200 minutes and you get your money’s worth.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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