10-Film Western Collection [DVD]
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In this western, a Mexican desperado tries to flee his partner, a determined girl friend, and a US Marshal. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi
Directly after his successful screen teaming with Marlene Dietrich in Morocco, Gary Cooper returned to Paramount's "Zane Grey" western series with Fighting Caravans. Cooper is cast as Clint Belmet, a hell-raisin' frontiersman facing a misdemeanor jail term. To avoid arrest, Clint talks French-born Felice (Lily Damita) into posing as his wife. Having successfully eluded the Law, Clint joins a wagon train heading to California, with Felice in tow. He callously tells her that he expects to exercise his "husbandly" prerogative in bed, but changes his tune when he genuinely falls in love with the girl. Eventually, Clint assumes some responsibility for the first time in his life by becoming the wagon train's sole trail guide, rescuing the other passengers from the villainous machinations of gun-runner Lee Murdock (Fred Kohler). Several stock shots and outtakes from Fighting Caravans (retitled Blazing Arrows for television) later showed up in another Zane Grey series entry, Wagon Wheels (1934). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Call the Mesquiteers
In this episode of the western series, the Mesquitters try to stop a ring of silk thieves while dealing with a shady medicine show man and his kids. One of his offspring is a beautiful young woman. The Mesquiteers must hurry to find the thieves as they too are suspects. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi
One of Cannon Films' two 1976 Italian-Israeli co-productions starring Lee Van Cleef and Leif Garrett (Gianfranco Parolini's Pistola di Dio was the other), this spaghetti western was actually shot in the Middle East by American director Joseph Manduke. Pop star Garrett plays Tom, a teenager who teams with a black gunfighter named Isaac (Jim Brown) to avenge his family. The culprit was McClain (Van Cleef), a sadistic outlaw who carried out the brutal rape-massacre, but his role is minor, as most of the film deals with Tom's maturation and coming to terms with his feelings. Omnipresent 1970s character actors Glynnis O'Connor and John Marley co-star. If there is anything remarkable about Kid Vengeance, it is Francesco Masi's fine musical score, but the film is otherwise anemic. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi
Trouble in Texas
A rather weak entry in producer Edward F. Finney's series of Tex Ritter Westerns, Trouble in Texas enjoyed a much longer than usual shelf life courtesy of its beautiful leading lady Rita Hayworth, then known as Rita Cansino. Ritter stars as a rodeo champion searching for the villains who killed his brother. The gang, headed by Barker (Earl Dwire), is summarily poisoning competition to Barker's own champion, Squint Harmer (Yakima Canutt). With the assistance of Carmen (Hayworth) and comedic sidekick Lucky (Horace Murphy), Ritter not only avoids being poisoned, but goes on to win the rodeo. As a sort of consolation prize, the Barker gang rob the local bank, but choose a rather unfortunate wagon filled with dynamite as the getaway vehicle. In between riding in the (stock-footage) rodeo and chasing down his brother's killers, Ritter sings his own "Song of the Rodeo" and Al Bryan's "Down the Colorado Trail," while Hayworth performs a Mexican dance. When Trouble in Texas was re-released in 1943 by Ambassador Pictures, Rita Hayworth not surprisingly earned star billing ahead of Ritter. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi
Cry Blood, Apache
Telling the story of his early life in flashback, a former prospector (Joel McCrea, with flashback sequences featuring son Jody) explains his brutal massacre of a tribe of Indians. The only survivor (Marie Gahua) agrees to lead him to a secret gold mine. ~ John Bush, Rovi
Though well past 50, Harry Carey could still play a virile and convincing cowboy hero in such inexpensive westerns as Without Honors. Carey is cast as Jack Marian, a gambler with an unsavory past. Suspected of being an outlaw, Carey plays along with this misconception, the better to infiltrate a gang of smugglers. Along the way, he clears the name of the brother of Texas ranger Mike Donovan, and helps patch up the romance between Donovan and heroine Mary Jane Irving. Among the supporting players are Gibson Gowland, previously the star of Erich Von Stroheim's silent classic Greed, and the "ever popular" Mae Busch, taking a break from her usual duties in the Laurel and Hardy comedies. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Stampede was the first of western star Charles Starrett's "northerns," filmed through the facilities of Columbia's Canadian studios in Victoria B.C. Based on a story by Peter B. Kyne, the film cast Starrett as Larry, a cattle buyer who crosses the Canadian border to purchase new stock. He quickly runs afoul of a gang of rustlers, who cap their many misdeeds by murdering Larry's brother. Suddenly, our hero becomes a one-man police force, refusing to rest until every last one of the villains has been brought to justice. Stampede was written and directed by Ford Beebe -- evidently not to the satisfaction of Columbia's executives, who replaced Beebe with David Selman for Starrett's next Canadian production Secret Patrol. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
In this post-Civil War Western, Fred Williamson stars as a vigilante on the hunt for the men who killed his mother. First titled The Black Rider. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
The Pony Express Rider
Designed for the regional family trade, Pony Express Rider is a fond harkback to the Saturday afternoon westerns of old. Stewart Paterson plays the title character, a young frontiersman hoping to avenge his father's death. He takes a job with the Pony Express mail service in hopes of running across his dad's murderer. The supporting cast is populated with such always-welcome reliables as Joan Caulfield, Henry Wilcoxon, Ken Curtis, Slim Pickens and Dub Taylor. Pony Express Rider was directed by Robert J. Totten, a specialist in episodic television horse operas. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi