MASK OF MYSTERY! Who is this daring figure who conquers villainy and evil with the crack of a blazing black whip!


In the 1940's the was an unsung female gunfighter who dispensed justice at the end of a whip.

WHIP OF VICTORY! Wielded by an avenger who feared no man...and fought with the courage of the Fabulous Zorro, Champion of Justice!

In 1944 Republic Pictures used the name and fame of the Zorro to promote a western serial that featured a woman who fought crime with the same flair as her more famous male counterpart.

Here is some history:

Zorro's Black Whip is a 1944 Republic Pictures film serial starring Linda Stirling. The film was made after the 1940 20th Century-Fox remake of The Mark of Zorro and Republic wasn't able to use the character himself, but still wanted to capitalize on it. However, and despite the title, Zorro does not feature in this serial. The hero(ine) is actually called The Black Whip throughout.

The serial is set in pre-statehood Idaho, and involves a fight to prevent and ensure statehood by the villains and heroes respectively.

Parts of this serial were reused as stock footage to pad out later serials such as Don Daredevil Rides Again (1951) and Man with the Steel Whip (1954) – despite the fact that both of those serials had male leads.

In Zorro's Black Whip the word Zorro never occurs, but a female who behaves like Don Diego in Idaho fights a cabal of corrupt politicians as "The Black Whip" after her brother (the original Black Whip) is killed.

Hammond, owner of the town's stagecoach line and a leading citizen on the council, is secretly opposed to Idaho becoming a state—because government protection would destroy the system and organization he has constructed—and conducts raids against citizens and settlers alike to prevent order, while keeping his own identity as the organization's leader secret. The town marshal is meanwhile powerless to act outside his jurisdiction beyond the town boundary. Randolph Meredith, owner of the town's newspaper, as the Black Whip, opposes this scheme to defeat statehood, but one day he is killed after preventing yet another coup. Meredith's sister Barbara, expert with a bullwhip and pistol, dons Randolph's black costume and mask and becomes "The Black Whip" in her brother's place, dealing a blow to Hammond and his gang each time they perform some heinous act in their efforts to keep the town, and their power over it, unchanged.

Aided by recently arrived undercover US government agent Vic Gordon, Barbara (Linda Stirling) as The Black Whip is quite obviously female but, even after a bout of wrestling, the villains do not realise they aren't fighting a man. Some reference is made to this in the script, however, when the villains are trying to determine who the Black Whip's secret identity could be:

Hammond: Barbara Meredith, she's the Black Whip! Baxter: She couldn't be! The Black Whip's got to be a man! He's outshot us, outrode us, and outfought us, stopped us at every turn! — Chapter Nine: Avalanche



Hammond orders her taken, but the day is saved when Vic Gordon discovers Barbara's secret and removes her from suspicion by appearing in her costume and overcoming her captors. From this point on, despite relinquishing the costume at her insistence that she must continue as the Black Whip, he tends to assume the hero role while Barbara becomes slightly more of a traditional damsel in distress, even while she still holds her own in successive violent confrontations with Hammond's henchmen, and more than once saves Vic's life.

After the town has finally voted on whether or not to accept statehood, most of Hammond's gang are gunned down while attempting to steal the ballot boxes. Hammond escapes, and secretly trails and confronts Barbara in her cave when she removes her mask. He takes aim, but is struck down by the Black Whip's stallion. The reign of terror has ended. Vic remains with Barbara and the marshall to help maintain peace in the territory.

As a side note, Linda Stirling also starred as the title character in the 1944 Republic serial "The Tiger Woman", which from everything I could find sounded a lot like a cross between the comic book icons Black Panther and Catwoman.

From IMDB:

Greedy oil speculators, led by Morgan, are trying to force Tiger Woman and her band of warriors from their jungle home. Allen Saunders of Inter-Ocean Oil wants to develop the oil, too, but fights with Tiger Woman to stop the bad guys.



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