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Linda Stirling

 

 

ZORRO'S BLACK WHIP

(Click on chapter titles below)

Republic, 1944.  Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet, Wallace Grissell.  Camera:  Bud Thackery.  With George J. Lewis, Linda Stirling, Lucien Littlefield, Francis McDonald, Hal Taliaferro, John Merton, John Hamilton, Tom Chatterton, Tom London, Jack Kirk, Jay Kirby, Si Jenks, Stanley Price, Tom Steele, Duke Green, Dale Van Sickel, Roy Brent, Horace B. Carpenter, Augie Gomez, Fred Graham, Herman Hack, Nolan Leary, Carey Loftin, Cliff Lyons, Jack O'Shea, Cliff Parkinson, Post Park, Marshall Reed, Vinegar Roan, Carl Sepulveda, Duke Taylor, Forrest Taylor, Ken Terrell, Robert J. Wilke, Bill Yrigoyen.

       

Before
Cleaning

           

Hammond, owner of the town's stagecoach line and a leading citizen, is opposed to Idaho becoming a state, and kills Randolph Meredith, owner of the town's newspaper, for endorsing it.  Meredith's sister Barbara, expert with a bullwhip and pistol, dons a black costume and mask and becomes "The Black Whip," dealing a blow to Hammond and his gang each time they perform some heinous act in their efforts to keep the town, and their power over it, unchanged.  Aided by government agent Vic Gordon, Barbara confronts Hammond in a final showdown just as the town votes on whether or not to accept statehood.

Notes
In Zorro's Black Whip, the word Zorro never occurs, but a female who behaves like Don Diego in Idaho fights a cabal of corrupt politicians as "The Black Whip" after her brother (the original Black Whip) is killed.  Hammond, owner of the town's stagecoach line and a leading citizen, is secretly opposed to Idaho becoming a state, and conducts raids against citizens and settlers alike to prevent order.  Randolph Meredith, owner of the town's newspaper, as the Black Whip, opposes this scheme, but one day he is killed after preventing yet another coup.  Meredith's sister Barbara, expert with a bullwhip and pistol, dons Randolph's black costume and mask and becomes "The Black Whip" in her brother's place, dealing a blow to Hammond and his gang each time they perform some heinous act in their efforts to keep the town, and their power over it, unchanged.  Aided by US government agent Vic Gordon, Barbara confronts Hammond in a final showdown just as the town votes on whether or not to accept statehood.

Linda Stirling as The Black Whip is quite obviously female but, even after a bout of wrestling, the villains do not realize they aren't fighting a man.  Some reference is made to this in the script, however, when the villains are trying to determine who the Black Whip's secret identity could be:

Hammond:  "Barbara Meredith, she's the Black Whip!
Baxter:  "She couldn't be!  The Black Whip's got to be a man!  He's outshot us, out rode us, and outfought us, stopped us at every turn! (Chapter Nine:  Avalanche)

The day is saved when Vic Gordon discovers Barbara's secret and removes her from suspicion by appearing in her costume.  From this point on he, despite relinquishing the costume, tends to assume the hero role while Barbara becomes slightly more of a traditional damsel in distress.  Despite physically wrestling with her, the villains never realize that the very obviously female Black Whip is a woman.

Zorro's Black Whip was made after the popular 20th Century-Fox remake of The Mark of Zorro (1940); Republic was unable to use the character himself, but still wanted to capitalize on it.  However, and despite the title, Zorro does not feature in this serial.  The hero(ine) is actually called The Black Whip throughout.

The serial is set in pre-statehood Idaho, and involves a fight to prevent and ensure statehood by the villains and heroes respectively.

Parts of this serial were reused as stock footage to pad out later serials such as Don Daredevil Rides Again (1951) and Man with the Steel Whip (1954), despite the fact that both of those serials had male leads.

This serial was put into production, with Linda Stirling as the main star, following the actress' popular performance in The Tiger Woman (1944).  Zorro's Black Whip was budgeted at $134,899 although the final negative cost was $145,251.  It was the cheapest Republic serial of 1944, and was filmed between July 29 and August 26, 1944 under the working title The Black Whip.  The serial's production number was 1495.

Zorro's Black Whip's official release date is December 16, 1944, although this is actually the date the sixth chapter was made available to film exchanges.  The serial was re-released on July 8, 1957 between the similar re-releases of The Purple Monster Strikes and Radar Men from the Moon.  The last original Republic serial release was King of the Carnival in 1955.

This was one of two 12-chapter serials released in 1944, along with Linda Stirling's serial debut, The Tiger Woman.  It had been Republic's standard pattern to produce two 12-chapter serials and two 15-chapter serials each year since 1938, but 1944 was the last year that occurred.  In fact, Republic would only produce two more 15-chapter serials, Manhunt of Mystery Island and The Purple Monster Strikes, both in 1945 and both starring Linda Stirling.

 

 

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