Silent western serial gallery: William Duncan’s Fighting Fate.

William Duncan’s Fighting Fate (1921).

The images and information in this post were found by Rogelio Agrasánchez Jr. while doing research for one of his latest books, Guillermo Calles: A Biography of the Actor and Mexican Cinema Pioneer, published by McFarland in 2010. Calles was part of Duncan’s team at the Vitagraph for five years, before becoming an independent producer and director.

 Sources for this post are said book and The Boys’ Herald, a British weekly devoted to young people. Its editors used to publish detailed synopsis and images from popular movies and serials.

 Given that all William Duncan’s serials are considered lost stills, as well as detailed synopsis are now the only way researchers and film aficionados may get a glimpse at those box-office hits of the past.

 From The Boys’ Herald we have taken the still images here reproduced.

fighting fate


Excerpt from the Agrasánchez’s book, page 28.

Magazines such as the widely read The Boys’ Herald and Boys’ Cinema Weekly of London, England, attest to the notoriety of Vitagraph’s films overseas. The Boys’ Herald often included in its pages an assortment of photographs from William Duncan’s films, followed by a brief description of each scene. In one issue, for example, readers could delight in the spectacular views of the serial Fighting Fate. It showed the hero “rounding up a number of outlaws by the aid of his aeroplane.” An amazing bombing of a building or the “stampede from the motor-boat when the aeroplane appears above,” surely inspired the imagination of youngsters.


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