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The Lone Defender

USA 1930
produced by
Nat Levine for Mascot
directed by Richard Thorpe
starring Rin Tin Tin, Walter Miller, June Marlowe, Josef Swickard, Buzz Barton, Lee Shumway, Julia Bejarano, Lafe McKee, Arthur Morrison, Frank Lanning, Bob Kortman, Victor Metzetti, Otto Metzetti
written by William P.Burt, Ben Cohen, music by Lee Zahler


review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When wanting to make a visit to his goldmine in the desert, Juan Valdez (Joseph Swickard) is shot by a person unknown, & legally the mine should be inherited by his daughter Dolores (June Marlowe) ... but then there are only 2 slues to the mine, a map engraved in Juan's watch, and Juan's seeing-eye dog Rinty (Rin Tin Tin). But while the watch is repeatedly stolen by everyone from everyone else, Rinty is soon condemned to death for killing cattle (actually it was a pack of wolves who did the killing) - of course Rinty escapes.

Dolores' only helpers are young Buzz (Buzz Barton) & mysterious Ramon (Walter Miller) who is believed to be the notorious bandit Cactus Kid, & until the end Dolores doesn't know if she can trust him (by now you might have guessed so I'll give it away: Yes, he turns out to be a gouvernment agent in the end). Dolores' fiercest adversary on the other hand is Amos Harkey (Lee Shumway), on the outside a respectable businessman who offers Dolores allt he help she wants, but behind his facade a ruthless gangleader who desperately wants to get his hands on Dolores' gold at any cost.

In the ensuing story everybody's looking everywhere for the mine, which is for some time believed not to be in the desert at all but beneath Dolores' house, & the identity of the killer of Dolores' father, Jenkins (Bob Kortman) is eventually given away, then even Dolores' father's crazed partner Burke (Frank Lanning) shows up & leads everyone to the real goldmine in the desert but then tries to trap them inside by an avalanche ... but in the end, Harkey is unmasked to be the real Cactus Kid, Dolores gets her mine & who would have thought, Ramon turns out to be a gouvernment agent.


One of the very earliest talking serials, & it does show: much of the acting is still reminiscent of the silent area, as is the pacing, sound is not really used to any significant effect, some of the actors seem rather at unease with suddenly having to speak, & Walter Miller's incredibly fake Mexican accent, ... well, it would have worked better in a silent picture. As a piece of nostalgia, as a cheap Western with a dog in the lead role, it has some entertainment value, if one takes into account the typical early-sound deficiencies.

Richard Thorpe, by the way, would soon adapt to the sound medium & become a prolific director whose career spanned well into the 50's, among his most succesful films being many of MGM's Tarzan movies or Ivanhoe (1952), among many others. Rin Tin Tin on the other hand would soon reach the end of his career, & his son, Rin Tin Tin jr, is generally considered a poor replacement (as Rinty jr's films were generally done on the very cheap).

review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD