THE AVENGER concerns the efforts of a man to exact justice for his brother’s murder simply to gain control of a gold mine. Buck Jones(though billed here as Charles ‘Buck’ Jones) is Joaquin Murietta(pronounced Wa-keen), a man forced to watch his brother hanged as a horse thief by three men: Black Kelly(Otto Hoffman), Ike Mason(Edward Peil Sr.), and Al Goss(Walter Percival). Murietta is left alive, though severely beaten.
Joaquin Murietta was a real figure in the early California west. An outlaw, he was known by some as the Robin Hood of the West.
Kelly, Mason, and Goss are businessmen now, the proceeds of “their” gold mine having elevated their station in life. Kelly is a banker, Mason owns a saloon, and Goss is a businessman. Suddenly a mysterious figure starts robbing the stages carrying gold back to town. He never bothers the passengers or stage crew, never takes anything but the gold. He is known as The Black Shadow.
At that same time, a gentleman named Carter arrives in town with his friend Windy(Sidney Bracey). It’s Murietta, an older man in less noticeable dress and the Hispanic accent gone. He immediately saves the life of Helen Lake(Dorothy Reiver), a school teecher and sister of the sheriff from a horse stampede started by Windy(a posse’s mounts). She’s interested in the handsome stranger ad we get a set-up with Goss. The man wants Helen to marry him, but she doesn’t have a lot of interest.
A message is left on the wall of the saloon:
When death comes calling
and signed below:
The Black Shadow
Whenever The Black Shadow is onscreen, his face is never seen clearly. A big, floppy wide brimmed sombrero and filming intentionally dark around him, he speaks with a thick accident and maneuvers each man, in order of the message, into being killed. He never does it himself.
The Avenger owes more than a little to Zorro I think. He doesn’t wear a mask or a sword, instead a pair of pistols on his hips, but still it’s there.
I liked this one.