Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hopalong Cassidy, Superman, the Shadow and Robert Mitchum

A few months back, someone actually read my blog. He posted a comment, too, in which he mentioned a Hopalong Cassidy movie in which a young Robert Mitchum appeared.

I own a number of Hoppy DVDs, but I didn’t happen to have that particular film (Hoppy Serves a Writ from 1942), so I immediately Netflixed it. And, by golly, not only is Bob Mitchum in it, so is George Reeves and Victor Jory.

Jory played the Shadow (the toughest of pulp magazine tough guys) in a 1940 serial. Reeves, of course, played Superman (the toughest of comic book tough guys) on TV in the 1950s.

And Mitchum, of course, is one of the toughest of tough guy actors. Heck, he’s so tough he probably hung around the back lot between movies chewing on nails along with Richard Widmark, Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson.

In the Hoppy movie, Jory is the leader of a gang of rustlers and stage coach robbers. Reeves and Mitchum are members of his gang. Despite the fact that all three men are playing outlaws and thugs, it is by default the most manly gang of real men in the history of manliness.

There’s one scene in which one of Hoppy’s sidekicks is captured by the gang and knocked around in an attempt to get him to talk. To his credit, he doesn’t talk, despite the fact that the Shadow and Superman are taking turns punching him while Bob Mitchum holds him up.

The movie as a whole, by the way, is a typically good B-Western. William Boyd gives his usual boisterous and likable performance as Hoppy, there’s an effective use of outdoor locations and the plot is well-constructed. And there’s a great saloon brawl in which Hoppy beats the snot out of the Shadow. Now THAT’S tough.

My appreciation to the gentleman who left the comment that inspired me to catch up on another great black-and-white Western. I just wish the film had a better title. Hoppy Serves a Writ just isn’t tough enough. But I suppose Hoppy Beats the Snot Out of The Shadow wouldn’t have fit on the theater marquee.


  1. A great post! I'm that gentleman and I'm still reading and enjoying your 'blog!

    "Hoppy Serves a Writ" was a pretty good movie (the title is taken from one of the original Mulford novels), but if you really want to enjoy Hoppy with Mitchum, Reeves and Jory you must see "Bar 20," one of my favorite Hoppy movies and the only one that features Reeves playing Hoppy's young sidekick Lin Bradley. Mitchum and Jory are excellent here too.

    Mitchum appeared in seven Hoppy movies (Border, Patrol, Bar 20, Hoppy Serves a Writ, Riders of the deadline, False Colors, Colt Comrades, and Leather Burners). Reeves was in five Cassidy pictures (Border Patrol, Bar 20, Hoppy Serves a Writ, Riders of the Deadline and Colt Comrades) and Jory was in seven, four alongside Mitchum (Bar 20, Hoppy Serves a Writ, Colt Comrades and Leather Burners). all of these movies date to 1943.

    Victor Jory is a great, underappreciated actor. In addition to "The Shadow," which I've yet to see, he was also "The Green Archer."

    Old comics, old-time radio, old movies and serials are among my favorite things, so it's always a delight to come here and see them all being celebrated and discussed with intelligence and insight.

    -- Gary Peterson, Omaha, NE

  2. Thanks for your kind words. I'll see if I can dig up "Bar 20" and watch it. I appreciate you taking the time to add to my Hoppy knowledge.


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