The Miraculous Blackhawk: Freedom's Champion

The Miraculous Blackhawk: Freedom's Champion, or just Blackhawk, is a 1952 American 15-chapter black-and-white movie serial adventure from Columbia Pictures, based on the comic book Blackhawk, published at the time by Quality Comics, but now owned by DC Comics. It was Columbia's forty-ninth serial.[1] Home video release has since given the serial the tagline: "Fearless Champion of Freedom".

The Miraculous Blackhawk:
Freedom's Champion
Directed bySpencer Gordon Bennet
Fred F. Sears
Produced bySam Katzman
Written byRoyal K. Cole
Sherman L. Lowe
George H. Plympton
Based on
StarringKirk Alyn
Carol Forman
John Crawford
Michael Fox
Don C. Harvey
Rick Vallin
Larry Stewart
Music byMischa Bakaleinikoff
CinematographyWilliam Whitley
Edited byEarl Turner
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
US July 1, 1952
Running time
15 chapters (242 min) B&W
CountryUnited States

Blackhawk stars Kirk Alyn as Blackhawk and Carol Forman as the foreign spy that must be stopped from stealing the experimental super-fuel "Element-X"; Alyn and Forman were also the hero and villain of Columbia's earlier Superman. Blackhawk was produced by the famously cheap Sam Katzman and directed by the team of Spencer Gordon Bennet and Fred F. Sears. It is considered cheap and lackluster, made in the waning years of studio movie serial production.


A flying squadron of World War II veterans, The International Brotherhood, is a private flying investigative force led by Blackhawk. They uncover a gang of underworld henchmen, led by the notorious foreign spy Laska, who reports to The Leader, a mystery man. During the serial, Blackhawk and his flying squadron set about bringing these criminals to justice, following a series of cliff-hanger adventures.


Chapter titles

  1. Distress Call from Space
  2. Blackhawk Traps a Traitor
  3. In the Enemy's Hideout
  4. The Iron Monster
  5. Human Targets
  6. Blackhawk's Leap for Life
  7. Mystery Fuel
  8. Blasted from the Sky
  9. Blackhawk Tempts Fate
  10. Chase for Element X
  11. Forced Down
  12. Drums of Doom
  13. Blackhawk's Daring Plan
  14. Blackhawk's Wild Ride
  15. The Leader Unmasked[2]


Writer George Plympton described a production staff meeting where they listened to a recording of the short-lived Blackhawk radio series. Everyone at the meeting was "aghast at the confusing babble of accents." For Columbia's serial, all recruits of the Blackhawk squadron speak with standard American accents.[3]


In chapter 3 Kirk Alyn performs a potentially dangerous stunt without the use of a stunt double. In order to save the life of squadron member Stan, who's tied to a stake in the path of a taxiing plane, Blackhawk (Alyn) runs up to the vehicle and turns it aside by grabbing the wing. A hidden pilot inside the plane steered it to simulate the movement. When writing this scene, the screenwriters were thinking of a small lighter wood-and-canvas plane, not the heavy metal aircraft used in the final scene; it could have easily killed Alyn if the stunt's timing had gone wrong.[3]

Critical reception

William C. Cline describes the serial as a "pretty good airplane adventure" in his book In the Nick of Time.[4] Despite this, Blackhawk was the last aviation serial; fliers had rapidly become less impressive in American popular culture, and science fiction was taking its place.[3]

Made during the 1950s, Blackhawk was produced after the movie serial's heyday; many from this period were generally inferior to those made in the previous decade.[5]


  1. The great movie serials: their sound and fury, Jim Harmon, Donald F. Glut, 1973, p.160. 1973. ISBN 9780713000979. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  2. Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 253–254. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  3. Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "7. The Aviators "Land That Plane at Once, You Crazy Fool"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. pp. 161–163. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
  4. Cline, William C. (1984). "2. In Search of Ammunition". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 27. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  5. Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture - The Decline of the Serial

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