Hawk of the Wilderness

Hawk of the Wilderness (1938) is a Republic movie serial based on the Kioga adventure novels written by pulp writer William L. Chester (1907-1971). Kioga was a Tarzan-like white child raised on a lost island in the Arctic Circle, somewhere in northern Siberia, which was heated by thermal springs and unknown currents. Chester wrote four Kioga novels. The first, Hawk of the Wilderness (1935), was the one that was filmed as the 12-part 1938 Republic serial. (The other novels in the series were Kioga of the Wilderness (1936), One Against a Wilderness (1937) and Kioga of the Unknown Land (1938).[2]

Hawk of the Wilderness
Original poster for the 4th chapter of the serial
Directed byWilliam Witney
John English
Produced byRobert M. Beche
Written byBarry Shipman
Rex Taylor
Norman S. Hall
Ridgeway Callow
Sol Shor
William L. Chester (novel)
StarringHerman Brix
Ray Mala
Monte Blue
Jill Martin
Noble Johnson
William Royle
Tom Chatterton
Music byWilliam Lava
CinematographyWilliam Nobles
Edgar Lyons
Edited byEdward Todd
Helene Turner
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date
  • December 3, 1938 (1938-12-03) (serial)[1]
  • 1950 (1950) (TV series)[1]
  • 1966 (1966) (film)[1]
Running time
12 chapters (213 minutes) (serial)[1]
6 26½-minute episodes (TV series)[1]
100 minutes (TV film)[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$117,987 (negative cost: $121,168)[1]

Herman Brix had earlier also played Tarzan on film in the 1935 Edgar Rice Burroughs-produced serial The New Adventures of Tarzan. Hawk of the Wilderness was later re-edited into a feature film version for television as The Lost Island of Kioga in 1966.[2]


Dr. Lincoln Rand, leading an expedition to an uncharted island in the Arctic Circle that he theorizes may be the ancestral home of all Native Americans, is shipwrecked. The only survivors are Lincoln Rand Jr. (Dr Rand's infant son) and the doctor's servant Mokuyi.

Years later, a message in a bottle from the sinking ship is found, and a second expedition led by a Dr. Munro sets out to find the lost expedition. Part of the crew, led by a smuggler named Solerno, mutinies when they reach the island, abandoning the doctor's expedition. Dr. Munro and company are rescued by Lincoln Rand Jr, now an adult Tarzan-like character known by the name "Kioga, Hawk of the Wilderness", who was raised to manhood on the island by Mokuyi. During the serial's running time, Kioga protects the expedition from both the mutineers and a savage tribe of natives who inhabit the jungle led by a villainous shaman. Meanwhile, the volcano is getting dangerously close to erupting.


  • Herman Brix as Lincoln Rand Jr, (aka Kioga, Hawk of the Wilderness)
  • Lane Chandler as Dr. Lincoln Rand Sr. (uncredited)
  • Noble Johnson as Mokuyi, Dr. Rand's former servant who rescues the baby Kioga and raises him to adulthood
  • Ray Mala as Kias, Kioga's manservant
  • Tom Chatterton as Dr. Munro
  • Fred Toones (aka "Snowflake") as George (Dr. Munro's Negro servant)
  • Jill Martin (aka Harley Wood) as Beth, Dr. Munro's attractive daughter/ love interest for Kioga
  • Monte Blue as Yellow Weasel, a villainous native shaman opposed to Kioga and the Munro expedition
  • George Eldredge as Allen Kendall, a member of Dr Munro's expedition
  • Patrick J. Kelly as William 'Bill-Bill' Williams, another member of Dr Munro's expedition
  • William Royle as Manuel Solerno, the smuggler
  • Dick Wessel as Dirk, Solerno's henchman
  • Tuffie as Tawnee (the dog)
  • James Dime as Dark Cloud[3]


Hawk of the Wilderness was filmed between 18 September and 13 October 1938, with location filming in Mammoth Lakes, California. The serial was budgeted for $117,987 but the final negative cost rose slightly to $121,168.[1]

Tuffie was cast when his trainer, during the interview, said "Tuffie, it's dark in here. Turn on the light." Tuffie did so by finding the switch, pulling a chair across to reach it and flipping the switch with his paw.[4]

Silent parts of the serial were filmed with a one-inch lens. Cameraman Edgar Lyons had initially been filming more of the clouds in the sky than the actors, with the effect of partially cutting them out of the shot. The studio complained. Director William Witney compromised with the use of the wider lens, which would take in both cloudscape and actors. Only silent scenes were shot in this manner because the camera would be both closer to the actors and take in more of the surroundings, preventing the microphone from getting close enough to work properly.[4]

Special EffectsEdit

The special effects in this serial were created by the Lydecker brothers.


  • Ted Mapes as Kioga (doubling Herman Brix)
  • James Dime
  • George Montgomery
  • Henry Wills



Hawk of the Wilderness' official release date is 3 December 1938, although this is actually the date the sixth chapter was made available to film exchanges.[1]


In the early 1950s, Hawk of the Wilderness was one of fourteen Republic serials edited into a television series. It was broadcast in six 26½-minute episodes.[1]

It was also one of twenty-six Republic serials re-released as a feature film for television in 1966. The title of the film was changed to Lost Island of Kioga (cut down to 100 minutes in length.)[1]

Critical receptionEdit

The burial of Kioga's servant Kias in the final chapter is regarded by historian William C. Cline as one of the "very few successful attempts at drama in serials."[5]

Chapter titlesEdit

  1. Mysterious Island (28min 59s)
  2. Flaming Death (16min 40s)
  3. Tiger Trap (16min 46s)
  4. Queen's Ransom (16min 50s)
  5. Pendulum of Doom (16min 35s)
  6. The Dead Fall (16min 40s)
  7. White Man's Magic (16min 41s)
  8. Ambushed (16min 41s)
  9. Marooned (16min 41s) - a re-cap chapter
  10. Caves of Horror (16min 39s)
  11. Valley of Skulls (16min 41s)
  12. Trail's End (16min 40s)



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Mathis, Jack (1995). Valley of the Cliffhangers Supplement. Jack Mathis Advertising. pp. 3, 10, 34–35. ISBN 0-9632878-1-8.
  2. ^ a b http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/chester_william_l
  3. ^ Freese, Gene Scott (April 10, 2014). Hollywood Stunt Performers, 1910s-1970s: A Biographical Dictionary (2nd ed.). McFarland & Company. p. 75. ISBN 9780786476435.
  4. ^ a b Witney, William (2005). In a Door, Into a Fight, Out a Door, Into a Chase: Moviemaking Remembered by the Guy at the Door. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0-7864-2258-6
  5. ^ Cline, William C. (1984). "3. The Six Faces of Adventure". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 37. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
  6. ^ Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 223. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Dick Tracy Returns (1938)
Republic Serial
Hawk of the Wilderness (1939)
Succeeded by
The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1939)
Preceded by
Dick Tracy Returns (1938)
Witney-English Serial
Hawk of the Wilderness (1939)
Succeeded by
The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1939)