The Silent Flyer (1926)

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Produced independently by the enterprising Nat Levine, this ten-chapter action serial featured Danish-born character actor Anders Randolph as the inventor of a completely silent airplane motor. Various villains are out to steal the potentially valuable contraption but are foiled at every turn by the serial's star trio: handsome young secret serviceman Lloyd Darrel (Malcolm MacGregor), pretty Helen Corliss (Louise Lorraine), and most importantly, Silver Streak, a clever German shepherd. The latter, of course, was Levine's low-budget answer to Warner Bros.' lucrative Rin Tin Tin. Hughie Mack, an obese comic in the style of "Fatty" Arbuckle was added to provide comedy relief. Levine produced the entire serial on location and on rented stages, managing to bring all ten chapters in on a budget of 70,000 dollars. Instead of releasing this his first serial on the usual states rights basis, Levine sold it outright to Universal for 75,000 dollars, the profits going toward establishing Mascot Pictures, a Poverty Row company that would proudly carry the serial tradition into the talkie era.