The Fighting Trail

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The Fighting Trail



In the News~

"...Very soon, the Vitagraph Company turned into one of the most prosperous film enterprises. Its owners were proud of the quality of their movies, which they regarded as "clean, wholesome action pictures with a real entertainment punch." Located in Santa Monica, the studios were bursting with activity in the late teens as many talents came to join the crowd. Among them was actor William Duncan. This popular action hero not only starred in but also directed seven serials for Vitagraph: The Fighting Trail, Vengeance and the Woman, A fight for Millions, Man of Mights, Smashing Barriers, The Silent Avenger, and Fighting Fate. All of them included appearances by [Guillermo "Willie" ] Calles, who sometimes got billing after the stars' names.

Duncan's first hit at the Company was The Fighting Trail (1917), a fifteen-chapter serial whose cast included Carol Holloway, George Holt, Joe Ryan, Fred Burns, Walter Rodgers, H. Ducrow and, without getting a credit, Willie Calles. A typical action picture, its plot revolved around a secret mine containing strategic war material. THe arrival of some German spies gave ample pretext for lots of fighting and suspense. Ducrow played a Yaqui Indian in the first three chapters; he was a "faithful Indian servitor of Western Mine owner." Like most serials produced by the studio, The Fighting Trail was made rapidly, the company churning out a new chapter every week...Calles recounted:

In one of its episodes shot at Santa Cruz Island, I had to plunge into the sea from an altitude of 134 feet while riding a vigorous horse. But the animal did not want to make the leap in all eight times that I had tried; until Duncan, who was the director, took notice of my predicament and ordered me to dismount from the horse and take a dive, which I did. Because of the air pressure during the fall, I hit the water unconscious. Fortunately, three days after the accident I was completely recovered..." [Agresánchez, Rogelio. Guillermo Calles: A Biography of the Actor and Mexican Cinema Pioneer (2010)]