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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Serials > Johnny Mack Brown Serials: Flaming Frontiers + The Oregon Trail

Johnny “Mack” Brown Western Serials: Flaming Frontier + Oregon Trail (VCI Sets)


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



Universal did their best to have Western serials and Johnny “Mack” Brown was their big star.  Around the beginning of this website’s advent, we looked at some of his B-Movies form VCI.  Now, they have come up with two of his big serials and put them out in DVD double sets.  Flaming Frontiers (1938) has Tex Houston (Brown) battling “renegade Indians” as he battles them, protects the Pony Express and tries to reach a very valuable treasure before “bad guys” do.  The Oregon Trail (1939) would seem to have the same plot, but land barrens trying to steal and inflate the price of land is the more interesting plot.


In both cases, the serials are more entertaining then expected and the Indians are stereotypical, but not as heavily so as expected.  The fight scenes are not bad, the cliffhangers par for the course and horse riding always interesting.  Dialogue is not as flat as expected and the flow of both is pretty good.  Oregon Trail is the slightly better of the two, with both showing why Brown became a star in his time.  Both are fun too.


The 1.33 X 1 image shows its age in both cases and does vary from chapter to chapter, but the prints from Trail look a bit cleaner and solid by comparison.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in both cases have background noise throughout and also show their age.  The combination is not great, but not bad under the circumstances.  Four trailers for other serials coming from VCI, a general VCI Serials trailer and four text pieces on cast and crew for each serial can be found on DVD 2 of the respective discs.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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