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Hoot Gibson Westerns Collection, Vol. 1 [6 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Wild Horse
By many considered the best of Hoot Gibson's eight Westerns for Gower Gulch producer M.H. Hoffman, Wild Horse starred The Hooter as Jim Wright, a cowpoke hired to work on George Bunny's rodeo ranch. Gibson manages to capture "The Devil Horse," a magnificent steed which had been eluding the wranglers, but the horse is stolen by jealous ranch hand Edmund Cobb, who murders Gibson's buddy Skeeter Bill Robbins) along the way. Gibson is blamed for both but everything is worked out after the usual hard ridin' and shootin'. Gibson, who enjoyed near autonomy in his pictures for Hoffman's Allied Pictures Corp., filled the supporting cast with old friends such as Neal Hart, Fred Gilman, Pete Morrison and Cobb, all of whom had seen better days in the silent era. "The Devil Horse" was "played" by Mutt, a horse from Gibson's own stable. The result was a fast-paced B-Western marred only slightly for modern audiences by the typically demeaning "comedy" of African-American performer Stepin Fetchit. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Cowboy Counselor
The plot is in the title of Cowboy Counselor. Hoot Gibson plays a shiftless galoot who tries to make something of himself for the sake of his sister Sheila Mannors. Gibson sells law books door to door, which gets him mixed up with outlaws. Typically, this Gibson vehicle downplays action for the sake of comedy; much of the suspense derives from whether or not Hoot will pick up a gun to defend himself (he never wore a holster, you know). Hoot Gibson's comic sidekick in Cowboy Counselor is Skeeter Bill Robbins, who died shortly after the film was completed. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Frontier Justice
Unlike most low-budget B-Westerns, several of Hoot Gibson's vehicles from Diversion Pictures were based on a literary source, in this case a pulp fiction novel by Colonel George B. Rodney. Helmed by former Our Gang director Robert McGowan, Frontier Justice presented Gibson as Brent Halston, a carefree cowboy whose father (Joseph W. Girard), a cattle rancher, has been committed to an insane asylum by a certain Dr. Close (Lloyd Ingraham). But as Brent discovers, the good doctor is operating as an agent for unscrupulous sheep owner Gilbert Ware (Dick Cramer), a megalomaniac who wants to drive the cattle ranchers off their lands. When Brent tries to interfere, Ware's even more unscrupulous partner John Wilton (Roger Williams) has him framed in the killing of a sheep farmer (Silver Tip Baker). About to be lynched by the vengeful sheep owners, Brent makes his escape, taking Ware hostage. Naturally, everything is neatly settled in the end when Wilton is exposed as the real murderer. Photographed by the veteran Paul Ivano, who had functioned as cinematographer on such silents as The Four Men of the Apocalypse (1921) and the notorious but handsomely mounted Queen Kelly) (1929), Frontier Justice was certainly better-looking than most inexpensive genre films, a fact that boded well for the remainder of Gibson's six Westerns for Diversion Pictures. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Hard Hombre
By 1931, and after countless Universal silent Westerns, veteran cowboy star Hoot Gibson had become a little long in the tooth to play a young, innocent mama's boy. But unfortunately, that is just what he played in Hard Hombre, the third of eleven very low-budget Gibson Westerns produced by M.H. Hoffman's Allied Pictures. Sometimes coy but mostly sullen, Gibson is frequently more irritating than heroic and one can only concur with leading lady Lina Basquette's reason for sending her new ranch hand out on a potentially dangerous errand: "Ah, he annoyed me!" Hoot plays William Penn "Peaceful" Patton, a young man who once promised his mother (Jessie Arnold) never to fight. Hired by Isabel Martinez (Basquette), a pretty Mexican widow, "Peaceful" is constantly mistaken for the notorious gunman, the "Hard Hombre." Enjoying his newfound notoriety, the ersatz hombre scares a group warring ranchers into settling a dispute over water rights and is so forceful that his employer falls for him. When the real "Hard Hombre" (Frank Winkleman) slugs "Peaceful's" mother, Patton turns into a fighting machine, decking the notorious outlaw with a swift uppercut. Gibson, who always enjoyed doing comedy more than straight Western melodrama, performs well in a couple of mildly humorous episodes -- bossing Basquette around and refusing to marry Tiny Sandford's cheap-looking "sister" (played by, of all people, Florence Lawrence) -- but generally his timing is defeated by Otto Brower's ponderous direction. For the record: Lawrence, the erstwhile "Biograph Girl" and arguably the first widely publicized movie star, has two lines in the film: "That's him!" and "You big brute!" The former silent icon delivers them with conviction. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Fighting Parson
Unlike the unintentionally amusing vehicles of many another western star, most of Hoot Gibson's starring films are funny on purpose -- and few are funnier than The Fighting Parson. Escaping from the sheriff after being caught with a pair of loaded dice, Gibson and his saddle pal Skeeter Bill Robbins come across the clothes and identification of a country parson. Our hero decides to hide out in the open by posing as the clergyman, getting to work immediately by preventing the hanging of outlaw Charlie King. But Hoot's life-saving motives are hardly altruistic: King is the fellow who divested the real parson of his clothes in the first place, and he threatens to blow the whistle on Gibson unless his life is spared. Though action is at a minimum in The Fighting Parson, the film makes up for the slack with some first-rate comic dialogue. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Lucky Terror
Arguably the best of Hoot Gibson's six Westerns for small-scale producer Walter Futter's Diversion Pictures, Lucky Terror once again presents the veteran star as a carefree drifter falsely accused of murder. This time, the victim is Jim Thornton (George Chesebro), a thief whose pockets are filled with gold. Arrested by the rotund sheriff (Robert Mckenzie), Lucky (Gibson) is defended in court by none other than Charles King, the veteran Bad Guy here playing an alcoholic shyster. King judicial advise to Lucky is to simply flee, which is exactly what our hero does. In the end, Thornton's death is declared an accident and Lucky catches the villains who had been terrorizing Lona Andre's Bonanza gold-mine. Comedy relief is this time provided by veteran silent screen actor Charles Hill Mailes (here billed simply "Charles Hill") as a traveling medicine show proprietor, and Frank Yaconelli as an Italian musician. Like most members of the cast, director Alan James also belonged to the silent era, where he had been billed under his real name, Alvin J. Neitz. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Sunset Range
A curious mix of B-Western heroics and gangster film melodramatics, Sunset Range was the first of two very low-budget Westerns Hoot Gibson would make for Gower Gulch company First Division Productions. Mary Doran, a blonde starlet who had played gangster's molls during the heyday of that genre in the early 1930s was cast as Bonnie Shea, a Chicago girl whose brother Eddie (James Eagles) is a member of a gang headed by hoodlum Grant (Walter McGrail). When Bonnie is leaving to take over her brother's Arizona ranch, Grant forces Eddie to hide the loot from the gang's latest bank heist in her suitcase. In Arizona, Bonnie immediately faces staff problems when sloppy cowhand Reasonin' Bates (Gibson) refuses to work for a lady. But despite Reasonin's early misgivings, he and his fellow cowboys show a united front when Grant and his gang of city slickers arrive to retrieve the loot. As usual in these low-budget affairs, Gibson earned certain casting privileges and Sunset Range featured several long-time associates of the popular star, including Fred Humes, Fred Gilman and stunt-men Len and George Sowards. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Boiling Point
Future Academy Award-winner Hattie McDaniel briefly brightened the proceedings in this, one of her two B-Western appearances in 1932. (The other was George O'Brien's The Golden West.) The rotund African-American comedienne portrays a cook on a ranch belonging to banker Tom Kirk (Lafe McKee). Also working on the premises is Jimmy Duncan (Hoot Gibson), an unruly young man who has promised his Uncle George (George Hayes) he will behave (or else...!). Treacherous bank teller Holt Narbrough (Wheeler Oakman), who not only desires Kirk's ranch, but also his pretty daughter, Laura (Helen Foster), attempts to rid himself of an irritating rival by constantly picking fights with Jimmy. The latter, however, is steadfast in his resolve and soon becomes the laughing stock among the ranch hands. In the end, Jimmy earns both Laura's love and Uncle George's respect by foiling a bank robbery. The Boiling Point was one in a series of cheap Westerns Hoot Gibson made for low-budget company Allied Pictures from 1931 to 1933. Gibson, whose generosity was legendary, found employment for old friends such as Roy "Skeeter Bill" Robbins and Fred Gilman in all of his Allied films, including The Boiling Point. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Riding Avenger
In his penultimate western for small-scale Diversion Pictures, Hoot Gibson enjoyed the company of no less than two pretty leading ladies: June Gale, his current off-screen girlfriend, and Ruth Mix, the daughter of legendary cowboy hero Tom Mix. Gibson played a U. S. Marshal going undercover as the notorious bandit "The Morning Glory Kid" in order to infiltrate a gang of rustlers headed by nasty Mort Ringer (Stanley Blystone). Both Misses Gale and Mix get in his way on occasion and Gibson's true identity is revealed with nearly calamitous results. But when all seems lost, Miss Mix manages to alert the sheriff's posse, a happy turn of events that allows the aging hero to continue romancing Miss Gale. The latter never became the third Mrs. Gibson as has been reported elsewhere but instead married eccentric pianist Oscar Levant. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

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