The Avenger (1931)

58, 62, 65 or 72 mins | Western | 6 March 1931

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HISTORY

A working title for this film was Phantom Hoofs . The film is loosely based on the exploits of legendary Mexican bandit Joaquin Murieta, who, in the mid-19th century, went to California and, according to the legend, swore vengeance against Americans and began of a series of robberies in the mining country after being discriminated against by white men. Varying accounts of Murieta's exploits in the California Mother Lode exist, including one story claiming that he was seized and decapitated by a ranger who killed him for a reward. Other films about Murieta that were made in the 1930s are the 1936 M-G-M film Robin Hood of El Dorado and the 1937 Principal Productions film The Californian (see below). MPH lists Teddy Tetzlaff , rather than Charles Van Enger, as cameraman. According to modern sources, the cast also included Paul Fix, Frank Ellis, Al Taylor, Blackjack Ward and Slim Whitaker. Modern sources also list Sol Lesser as the producer. The Avenger was remade by Columbia in 1942 as Vengeance of the West , directed by Lambert Hillyer and starring Bill Elliott and Tex Ritter. Other films featuring a character identified with Murieta include the 1919 D. W. Griffith film Scarlet Days , starring Richard Barthelmess and Clarine Seymour (see below); the 1927 Paramount film The Gay Defender , directed by Gregory Le Cava and starring Richard Dix and Thelma Todd (see below) and the 1965 film Murieta , filmed in Spain and distributed by Warner Bros., which starred Jeffrey Hunter and Arthur Kennedy (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, ... More Less

A working title for this film was Phantom Hoofs . The film is loosely based on the exploits of legendary Mexican bandit Joaquin Murieta, who, in the mid-19th century, went to California and, according to the legend, swore vengeance against Americans and began of a series of robberies in the mining country after being discriminated against by white men. Varying accounts of Murieta's exploits in the California Mother Lode exist, including one story claiming that he was seized and decapitated by a ranger who killed him for a reward. Other films about Murieta that were made in the 1930s are the 1936 M-G-M film Robin Hood of El Dorado and the 1937 Principal Productions film The Californian (see below). MPH lists Teddy Tetzlaff , rather than Charles Van Enger, as cameraman. According to modern sources, the cast also included Paul Fix, Frank Ellis, Al Taylor, Blackjack Ward and Slim Whitaker. Modern sources also list Sol Lesser as the producer. The Avenger was remade by Columbia in 1942 as Vengeance of the West , directed by Lambert Hillyer and starring Bill Elliott and Tex Ritter. Other films featuring a character identified with Murieta include the 1919 D. W. Griffith film Scarlet Days , starring Richard Barthelmess and Clarine Seymour (see below); the 1927 Paramount film The Gay Defender , directed by Gregory Le Cava and starring Richard Dix and Thelma Todd (see below) and the 1965 film Murieta , filmed in Spain and distributed by Warner Bros., which starred Jeffrey Hunter and Arthur Kennedy (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ; F6.3351). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
19 Apr 31
p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald
28 Mar 31
p. 37.
Variety
22 Apr 31
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITERS
Story
Adpt and dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SOUND
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Phantom Hoofs
Release Date:
6 March 1931
Production Date:
19 December--15 January 1931
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
11 March 1931
Copyright Number:
LP2843
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
58, 62, 65 or 72
Length(in feet):
5,865
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1849, Joaquin Murieta, son of a wealthy Spanish family, quarrels with three prospectors, Ike Mason, Black Kelly, and Al Goss. When Joaquin returns home, he finds that the house has been raided and his father is dying from wounds received during the raid. On his way to tell his brother Juan of the news, Joaquin meets Helen Lake and they begin a romance. Soon after Joaquin arrives at the camp, Mason and Goss kill Juan and knock Joaquin unconscious as they seize Juan's claim. The trio does not become wealthy, however, as the mysterious "Black Shadow," actually Joaquin in disguise, robs the stagecoach of their shipments. Although Helen's father, Captain Lake of the U.S. Army, offers a reward of $5,000 for the Black Shadow, Joaquin's disguise remains intact. After posting a notice at the saloon threatening Kelly, Mason and Goss with revenge, Joaquin arranges for their death by tricking the trio into shooting one another. Joaquin, however, is wounded in the process and seeks refuge with Helen, to whom he confesses the truth. Helen is unable to prevent his and Goss's arrest, and as a mob threatens to storm the jail, Joaquin convinces Goss to dress as the Black Shadow in order to escape. Goss is shot while fleeing, thus completing Joaquin's revenge. Helen tells her father the entire story, and he, convinced of the justice of Joaquin's case, gives them permission to ... +


In 1849, Joaquin Murieta, son of a wealthy Spanish family, quarrels with three prospectors, Ike Mason, Black Kelly, and Al Goss. When Joaquin returns home, he finds that the house has been raided and his father is dying from wounds received during the raid. On his way to tell his brother Juan of the news, Joaquin meets Helen Lake and they begin a romance. Soon after Joaquin arrives at the camp, Mason and Goss kill Juan and knock Joaquin unconscious as they seize Juan's claim. The trio does not become wealthy, however, as the mysterious "Black Shadow," actually Joaquin in disguise, robs the stagecoach of their shipments. Although Helen's father, Captain Lake of the U.S. Army, offers a reward of $5,000 for the Black Shadow, Joaquin's disguise remains intact. After posting a notice at the saloon threatening Kelly, Mason and Goss with revenge, Joaquin arranges for their death by tricking the trio into shooting one another. Joaquin, however, is wounded in the process and seeks refuge with Helen, to whom he confesses the truth. Helen is unable to prevent his and Goss's arrest, and as a mob threatens to storm the jail, Joaquin convinces Goss to dress as the Black Shadow in order to escape. Goss is shot while fleeing, thus completing Joaquin's revenge. Helen tells her father the entire story, and he, convinced of the justice of Joaquin's case, gives them permission to marry. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.