BLACKHAWK (1952, Dir. Spencer Bennet & Fred Sears)

Mill Creek DVD $12.99
15 chapters / 242 min. / B&W / 1.33:1

Quality Comics was a popular second-tier comic book publishing firm that went out of business in the late 1950s, and DC Comics picked up several of their better-selling titles and characters, including Plastic Man and such titles as Heart Throbs and G.I. Combat. The most popular of all was Blackhawk, a team of airborne Freedom Fighters from around the globe, united against Axis (and, later, Iron Curtain) enemies. In addition to stoic team leader Blackhawk, the team consisted of Stanislaus, a Pole; Chuck, from Texas; Hendrickson, a thick Dutchman; Olaf, a large oafish Swede; André, handsome Frenchman, lady-killer and demolitions expert; and Chop-Chop, the stereotypical Chinese cook and comic relief.

In 1952, with the success of two Superman and two Batman cliffhanger serials under the studio’s belt, Columbia Pictures adapted Blackhawk to the motion-picture screen, starring Kirk Alyn (star of the two Superman chapterplays) as Blackhawk, with John Crawford as Chuck, Rick Vallin as Stanislaus, Don Harvey as Olaf, Larry Stewart as André, Frank Ellis as Hendrickson, and Weaver Levy as Chop-Chop, with Carol Forman as the evil foreign agent not named The Spider Lady but playing virtually the same character as she had four years earlier in Superman

Although the budget didn’t allow for the worldwide adventure and thrills of the comic book series, Blackhawk the serial provides as much action and fun as any 1950s serial, and they do manage a little globe-hopping, too. The villains are Commies, and they're actually NAMED as Commies, unusual for a serial (at least, it's unusual for the ones we've seen). The Blackhawks' costumes don't look quite right, and I can't decide if it's 'cause they're poorly made or they just are another example of costumes that look good in comics but stupid in reality. Anyway, the first episode went by at lightning speed; Stan is kidnapped and replaced by his identical twin Commie brother from the Old Country, and you think that’s going to be the plot for 15 weeks, but writer George Plympton throws in a monkey wrench. Fun stuff.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Ms. Forman, trying to extend her Commie plot South of the Border: “We don’t want to tangle with the Mexican police—they’re GOOD!”

A serviceable DVD from our friends at Mill Creek, with all 15 episodes complete on one disc, similar to their recent release of an even better serial, The Shadow (1940). Recommended for serial or comic book fans.