Bob Steele Double Feature Collection, Vol. 2 [7 Discs] [DVD]

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Smokey Smith
Bob Steele goes in search of the outlaw who killed both his parents and stole a valuable ring in this pedestrian western from producer A.W. Hackle's ramshackle Supreme Pictures Corp. Left to die in the desert, Smokey Smith (Steele) is nursed back to health by the sheriff of Pecos, John Law (Earl Dwire), who makes him his deputy. But Smokey is determined to find his parents' killer and surreptitiously joins a gang of stage robbers. Lead by Blaze Bart (George "Gabby" Hayes), who is determined to "earn" enough to send his foster-daughter Bess (Mary Kornman) back East, the gang is feuding with outlaw Kent (Warner P. Richmond), the very man Smokey is hunting. Kent murders Blaze but is himself killed by Smokey, who manages to reach the gang's mounted machine gun in time to save both Bess and the sheriff's posse. Smokey Smith was remade by low-budget Lippert Prod. as Crooked River (1950), a vehicle for down-on-their-luck former western stars James Ellison and Russell Hayden. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Riders of the Sage
The fourth of eight ramshackle Bob Steele oaters ground out by Metropolitan Pictures 1939-1940, Riders of the Sage joined the growing list of B-Westerns dealing with the cattle rancher vs. homesteader problem. The site of the trouble this time is Apache Basin, into which rides innocent Bob Burke (Steele). Bob soon joins the forces of homesteader Jim Martin, whose son, Tom (Dave O'Brien), has been kidnapped by the nasty Halsey brothers: Luke (Carleton Young) and Hank (Earl Douglas). With the help of Poe Powers (Ted Adams), a Robin Hood-like masked outlaw and the leader of the legendary "Riders of the Sage," Bob gets the goods on the Halseys and peace is soon restored. Despite the always welcome sight of Steele, Dave O'Brien, and leading lady Claire Rochelle (as the Halseys' rebellious sister), Riders of the Sage was soundly defeated by producer/director Harry S. Webb's slipshod production methods. As he had in the previous Steele entry, Mesquite Buckaroo (1939), villain Carleton Young billed himself as Gordon Roberts. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Sunrise Trail
Bob Steele rides the Sunrise Trail in this dusty "B"-western. Ostensibly an outlaw, Steele is actually an undercover operative for the local constabulary. He joins up with a gang of rustlers for the purpose of bringing the crooks to justice. Along the way, he falls for golden-hearted saloon gal Blanche Mehaffey. Both hero and heroine are exposed to deadly dangers before "our Bob" (as he was designated by the trade papers) is able to deliver the villains to the sheriff. Befitting the hero's pugnacious nature, there's a fight in every other reel of Sunrise Trail. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Wild Horse Valley
In his penultimate Western for low-budget company Metropolitan, Bob Steele's horse Pirate, "one of the finest Arabian stallions in the West," is stolen by Ted Adams in a daring attempt to lure mares belonging to local ranchers into secret Wild Horse Valley. The ploy, of course, backfires and Adams and his unsavory partners are arrested for rustling. Perhaps the nadir of his long screen career, Steele's Metropolitan series came to a merciful end with the eighth entry, Pinto Canyon (1940). ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Galloping Romeo
The Galloping Romeo is Bob Steele, a wandering cowboy who's had incredibly bad luck with women. After several romantic setbacks, Steele finally falls for a girl who he thinks is as pure as the driven snow. In actuality, the "heroine" and her father are in charge of a lucrative stage-holdup racket. As Steele rounds up the miscreants, the girl promises to go straight, but he's heard that song before. While it's fun to see Bob Steele offer what amounts to a Hoot Gibson imitation in Galloping Romeo, one can be grateful that he didn't attempt comedy too often. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Lightnin' Crandall
In this western, brand new rancher Bob Steele, a former gunslinger in search of a more peaceful life, finds his quiet shattered when he finds himself caught between two feuding neighbors. Matters become more complex when he falls in love with one of their daughters. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

The Arizona Gunfighter
To those well versed in the Bob Steelewesterns of the 1930s, it's hardly surprising to reveal that the plot of Arizona Gunfighter was motivated by the murder of the hero's father. One of the more novel plot twists finds good-guy gunfighter Colt Ferron (Steele) casting his lot with reformed outlaw Wolf Whitson (Ted Adams). The fight scenes are impressive, the straight-acting scenes less so: though he was capable of delivering a good performance, Steele often as not ran the emotional gamut from A to B. Arizona Gunfighter was one of several Steele westerns produced by A.W. Hackel for Republic release. Most of these were directed by Robert N. Bradbury, who happened to be the star's father. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Law Rides
Director Robert N. Bradbury puts his cowboy-star son Bob Steele through the customary paces in The Law Rides. The key to a series of murders is the gold coins left at the scene of each crime. It appears for a while as though "battling Bob" is responsible for the killings. He isn't, and it's not long before he ascertains who is. Bob Steele's leading lady in The Law Rides is the winsome Harlene Wood, who here as elsewhere is a lot better than her material. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Kid Ranger
Veteran silent screen star William Farnum earns one of his more prominent talking picture roles in this otherwise standard Bob Steele Western from Supreme Pictures. Farnum plays Sheriff Bill Mason who, after being forced to shoot outlaw Ben Brokaw (Frank Ball), promises the dying man to look after his young daughter Mary (Reetsy Adams) and never to tell the girl the truth about her father's occupation. Disgusted with himself for having had to actually kill someone, Mason resigns from his sheriff's job and becomes a stage driver. Years later, Steve Brent (Earl Dwire), a former accomplice of Brokaw's, blackmails Bill into helping him rob the stagecoach. Enter Ray Burton (Steele), the young ranger who is in love with the now grownup Mary (Joan Barclay), and Brent's days in the sun are numbered. As usual, this Bob Steele Western was directed by the star's real-life father, Robert North Bradbury. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Gun Lords of Stirrup Basin
In this western, a cattleman's son and a homesteader's daughter fall in love, but find their love thwarted by a trouble-making lawyer who creates a conflict between the ranchers and the settlers by telling the ranchers that the cattleman's stock will die if the homesteaders are allowed to dam the river. Gunplay and mayhem ensues. Eventually love triumphs. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Billy the Kid's Fighting Pals
Billy the Kid is played by Bob Steele in this PRC sagebrusher, while his "fighting pals" are Al "Fuzzy" St. John and Carleton Young. Billy and his buddies arrive in the town of Paradise, which fails to live up to its name. The villain is a local banker (Edward Peil Sr.), who of course is also the secret mastermind behind all criminal activities. Billy sizes up the situation and settles matters with a combination of fists and shootin' irons. Before emerging on screen as Billy the Kid's Fighting Pals, the film was briefly titled Billy the Kid Trails West, then Trigger Pals. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Billy the Kid in Santa Fe
PRC's "Billy the Kid" series had two different stars over a six-year period. Bob Steele plays the title role in 1941's Billy the Kid in Santa Fe. Framed on a murder charge, Billy heads to guess what New Mexico town. Here he teams with the brother of the murder victim to extract a confession from the real killer. This 66-minute sagebrusher was the sixth of PRC's "Billy the Kid" entries; in late 1941, Bob Steele would be succeeded in the starring role by Buster Crabbe. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Gun Ranger
A disgruntled ranger quits his job after a crooked state's attorney manages to get a case of murder thrown out of court in this standard Bob Steele western released by Republic Pictures. But as Dan Larsen (Steele) soon learns, there is more to the murder suspect, Wally Smeed (Ernie Adams), than meets the eye and together they go after the state's attorney, Kemper Mills (John Merton), who has quite a few interesting secrets of his own. Like so many of his westerns, The Gun Ranger was directed by Steele's real-life father, Robert North Bradbury. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Big Calibre
Directed by his father, Robert North Bradbury, Bob Steele's third Western for independent producer A.W. Hackel remains one of the most bizarre and evocative B-Westerns of the 1930s. Written by set designer/supporting actor Perry Murdock, The Big Calibre is really a horror movie masquerading as a Western, complete with a mad, disfigured scientist who kills by employing vials of poison gas. Steele's onscreen father (Frank Brownlee) becomes the Mad Doc's first victim and the sheriff's investigation points to town chemist Otto Zenz as the killer. Before he can be arrested, Zenz escapes with Steele in hot pursuit. (Eerily, director Bradbury favored stories about sons hunting down their fathers' killers.) Along the way, the young cowboy stumbles over a mysterious and unsettling pile of dried-up bones, a stage hold-up that isn't quite what it appears to be, and a girl (Peggy Campbell) whose ranch is threatened by a greedy lawyer (Forrest Taylor). The latter's co-conspirator, the hideously deformed assayer Gadski, may or may not be the missing chemist/killer. Despite all that, Steele manages to revenge his father's death in a final, desperate struggle during which the maniacal killer is undone by his own murder weapon. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

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