Hopalong Cassidy: Ultimate Collector's Edition, Vol. 2 [4 Discs] [DVD]

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Border Vigilantes
Border Vigilantes was the 34th entry in the "Hopalong Cassidy" western series, with 32 more still on the way. William Boyd stars once more as black-clad champion of justice Hopalong Cassidy, while Andy Clyde and Russell Hayden tag along as California Carson and Lucky Jenkins. This time our heroes ride into a town bedevilled by outlaw raids, despite the existence of a local vigilante committee. Sensing that something's wrong with this set-up, Hoppy does a bit of digging and discovers that the outlaw chieftan is actually the head of the vigilantes (talk about conflict of interests!) The strong supporting cast includes Frances Gifford, Victor Jory, Morris Ankrum, and former cowboy stars Tom Tyler and Hal Taliaferro (aka Wally Wales). With Border Vigilantes, the series' assistant director Derwin Abrahams was promoted to the director's chair, with splendid results. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Dead Don't Dream
The Last Chance Inn, the main locality in this latter-day Hopalong Cassidy Western, certainly lives up to its name. A prospector has mysteriously disappeared after spending a night there and now Lucky Jenkins' (Rand Brooks) prospective "uncle-in-law," another guest, has vanished as well. Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) locates the missing man's body in a mine but when he returns with the sheriff, the dead man has performed yet another disappearing act. Just before retiring, in the same room previously occupied by the victims, Sheriff Thompson (Forbes Murray) reveals the name of his prime suspect: Larry Potter (Bob Gabriel), the outlaw brother of the inn's wheelchair-bound proprietor (John Parrish). But will the sheriff survive the night or disappear just like the previous occupants? Like so many of the Hopalong Cassidy Westerns, the oddly titled Dead Men Don't Dream was filmed on location at Lone Pine, CA. Leading lady Mary Tucker had previously acted under the moniker of Mary Ware. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Silent Conflict
Hypnotism and mind control take center stage in this unusual latter-day "Hopalong Cassidy" series entry produced by its star, William Boyd. Having delivered a herd of cattle for the Cattlemen's Association, Hoppy (Boyd) and California (Andy Clyde) are confronted by a strangely moody Lucky Jenkins (Rand Brooks), who apparently owes money to a crooked gambler, Speed Blaney (James H. Harrison). At first, Hoppy dismisses the situation as a young man's folly but when both Lucky and the gold payment for the cattle vanish into thin air, our hero begins to suspect foul play. But has the hitherto upstanding Lucky turned thief? That question may be best answered by Doc Richards (Earle Hodgins), a typically flamboyant snake oil salesman with a dark side, and his pretty niece Rene (Virginia Belmont). Like most of the "Hopalong Cassidy" Westerns, Silent Conflict was partially filmed on location at Lone Pine. Leading lady Virginia Belmont later enjoyed a brief career in Italian films. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Riders of the Deadline
Two newcomers, Robert Mitchum and Richard Crane, take center stage in this lavishly budgeted entry in the long-running Hopalong Cassidy series. The latter plays Tim Mason, a young hothead about to be inducted into the Texas Rangers on the behest of his good friend, Hoppy (William Boyd). Unfortunately, Tim has been persuaded into gambling away funds meant to save his floundering ranch by nasty Gunner Madigan (Anthony Warde). The lender, unscrupulous banker Simon Crandall (William Halligan), is in reality the leader of a gang of gun-runners and blackmails Tim into turning a blind eye to the gang's illegal activities on the border. Tim, however, refuses to play along, and is arrested when a driver implicates him in the crimes. Promising Tim's sister, Sue (Frances Woodward), that her brother will never go on trial, Hoppy is falsely accused of complicity when Tim is shot attempting to escape. In reality, the whole thing is a set-up, Tim having been murdered in cold blood by crooked Deputy Martin (Hugh Prosser), who is on Crandall's payroll. Pretending to leave the rangers in disgrace, Hoppy, to the disgust of sidekicks California Carlson (Andy Clyde) and Jimmy Rogers, instead joins the outlaws. It is all a ruse, of course, and Hoppy manages to get the goods on Gunner, his chief henchman, Drago (Mitchum), and the wiry Crandall, the latter two biting the dust in a climactic shootout in the bank. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Strange Gamble
In this the final Hopalong Cassidy Western, Hoppy (William Boyd), California Carlson (Andy Clyde), and Lucky Jenkins (Rand Brooks) search for the leaders of a counterfeiting ring after receiving a tip from an anonymous source whose signature is a pencil sketch of a comet. In Silver City, they help Nora Murray (Elaine Riley), her brother Sid (William Leicester), and ailing sister-in-law Mary (Joan Barton) get a room at the inn despite the misgivings of hotel (and town) owner Ora Mordigan (James Craven). The latter, needless to say, is the instigator of the counterfeiting scheme, which he operates from the Silver Belle Mine founded by John Murray (Herbert Rawlinson), Nora and Sid's long-lost father. The old man, an engraver by trade, has been kept a virtual prisoner for years, forced to print fake U.S. and Mexican money for Mordigan and his henchmen. With the assistance of undercover Mexican investigator DeLara (Albert Morin) and "the Comet," a local doctor (Joel Friedkin), Hoppy manages to rescue the old man and capture the entire gang. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

There's oil in them thar hills in this late entry in the long-running Hopalong Cassidy Western series. Or, rather, there is oil under an abandoned church in the ghost town of Coltsville. On their way back to the Bar 20, Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) and his two sidekicks, California Carlson (Andy Clyde) and Lucky Jenkins (Rand Brooks) seek shelter from a storm in that very same church. They are awakened by church organist Susan Crowell (Dorinda Clifton) and her mother (Mary Newton), who explain that both church and town were abandoned after a series of mysterious killings. Along with Deacon Black (Ian Wolfe), the Crowells are the only inhabitants left in Coltsville. The next morning, a wrecking crew headed by Riker (Harry Cording) arrives to tear down the church, which is defended by Hopalong Cassidy and his friends. During a lull in the siege, Hopalong Cassidy does a bit of snooping around and learns the truth about the ghost town. Armed with this new knowledge, our hero returns to Coltsville and unmasks the real culprit behind both the killings and the attack of the church. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Unexpected Guest
Reading-of-the-will melodramatics substitute for the usual B-Western shootin' and fightin' in this late entry in the long running Hopalong Cassidy series, which has sidekick California Carlson (Andy Clyde) as one of six heirs to the supposedly worthless Baxter property. During the reading of Hiram Baxter's will, one of the heirs, Phineas Phipps (Joel Friedkin), is murdered, presumably by the same mystery figure who had earlier taken pot shots of the arriving Hoppy (William Boyd), Lucky (Rand Brooks), and California. Soon panels are sliding, spectral voices are heard, and shots are fired. Yet another heir, Ralph Baxter (Nedrick Young), is murdered and crooked attorney Potter (John Parrish) points the finger at Lucky. Meanwhile, Hoppy discovers that there is oil in them thar hills, a fact that Potter and co-conspirator Ogden (Robert B. Williams) conveniently forgot to mention to the heirs. After performing a bit of detective work, Hoppy catches the mystery killer in the act, so to speak, and the ranch is eventually returned to the surviving heirs, Ruth Baxter (Patricia Tate), housekeeper Mathilda Hackett (Una O'Connor), ranch hand Joshua Colter (Earle Hodgins), and California. The latter, however, relinquishes his share in favor of returning to the Bar 20 with his friends. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Stick to Your Guns
Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) and his buddies Johnny (Brad King) and California (Andy Clyde) take on a gang of rustlers in Stick to Your Guns. To throw the bad guys off the track, Hoppy and his companions pretend to be rustlers themselves and infiltrate the gang. Their mission is complicated when June, the heroine, takes it upon herself to go rustler-hunting, placing her directly in the line of fire. June is placed by Jacqueline Holt, daughter of Jennifer and sister of Tim; in her later western appearances, she billed herself as Jennifer Holt. Stick to Your Guns was the 41st entry in the "Hopalong Cassidy" series, with 25 left to go! ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Undercover Man
Undercover Man was the first of the "Hopalong Cassidy" series to be released by United Artists rather than Paramount. William Boyd and Andy Clyde return as saddle pals Hoppy and California, while Jay Kirby is cast as their partner-in-adventure Breezy. This time, Hoppy and company take on a gang of outlaws who've been plying their trade on both sides of the US-Mexican border. The plot is thickened by the presence of a mysterious masked rider who's been impersonating both Cassidy and Mexican police official Gonzalez (Antonio Moreno). Most of Undercover Man is an advertisement on behalf of the "good neighbor" policy promoted between North and South America during the War years. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Mystery Man
An above-average entry in the long-running Hopalong Cassidy Western series, the enigmatically titled Mystery Man opens with Hoppy (William Boyd), California Carlson (Andy Clyde), Jimmy Rogers, and the Bar 20 cowboys driving a herd of cattle to the Circle J. Ranch, whose owner, Tom Hanlon (Bob Burns), is to pay cash on delivery. In the town of Holbrook, however, the Bar 20 crew interrupts a bank robbery committed by the notorious Trilling gang whose boss (Don Costello) remains a mystery man. Not even the shrewd Hoppy is able to detect anything wrong with the inquisitive dude, who commends him for foiling the robbery. The dude, alias Trilling, manages to spring his henchmen from jail and then concocts a plan to steal the Bar 20 cattle en route to the Circle J. Despite strong resistance from Hoppy and his friends, Trilling does manage to drive the cattle to the Circle J where he presents himself as Hoppy. The real Hopalong Cassidy, meanwhile, is imprisoned by Sheriff Newhall (Taylor Homes), who accuses him of being Trilling. But the sheriff's daughter, Diane (Eleanor Stewart), who once rescued Jimmy from a would-be killer, knows otherwise and manages to free the Bar 20 cowboys. With the sheriff's posse hot on their trail and Diane acting as a decoy, Hoppy and his men force the Trilling gang into a box canyon and a final shootout. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Wide Open Town
A superior B-Western in every way, this Hopalong Cassidy series entry features an especially compelling performance by former silent screen star Evelyn Brent. Along with his sidekicks, Lucky (Russell Hayden) and California (Andy Clyde), Hoppy (William Boyd) is searching for the gang that killed a couple of Bar-20 cowboys and rustled their steers. The trail leads to Gunsight, a lawless city lorded over by the proprietress of the Paradise Saloon, Belle Langtry (Brent). Although she falls in love with Hoppy, Belle, who has at least one murder on her conscience, refuses to mend her evil ways. Steadfastly refusing to fall for the lady's undoubted charms, Hoppy instead has a trick or two up his sleeve, and the villains are soon fighting among themselves with the mayor's teenage daughter (Bernice Kay) caught in the crossfire. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Twilight on the Trail
Twilight on the Trail was one of three "Hopalong Cassidy" entries tradeshown in New York during the last two weeks of September, 1941 (the other two were Stick to Your Guns and Secret of the Wastelands). William Boyd returns as Hoppy, with Brad King and Andy Clyde as his sidekicks Johny and California. On this occasion, Plot Number 21-B was trotted out, with Hoppy posing as a mild-mannered Eastern dude, the better to catch the cattle-rustling villains off guard. Right on cue in reel six, Cassidy reveals his true identity as he, Johnny and California make the frontier safe for the likes of tremulous heroine Lucy (Wanda McKay). Twilight on the Trail was coscripted by actress Ellen Corby, who thirty years later gained TV fame as Grandma on The Waltons. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Hoppy's Holiday
Although Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) agrees to remain at Mesa City for a couple of days so that California (Andy Clyde) and Lucky (Rand Brooks) can partake in various amusements, the stay becomes more of an ordeal than a holiday when the local bank is robbed during a square-dance competition. A case of mistaken trunks puts California in jail and it is up to Hoppy to clear his name and catch the real culprits. The real bank robbers manage to escape in one of those newfangled horse-less carriages, but as horse-less carriages are wont to do, then as now, this one runs out of gas at the most inopportune moment. Co-scripted by character actress Ellen Corby, Hoppy's Holiday was produced by its star, William Boyd. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Colt Comrades
The winning streak of superior Hopalong Cassidy westerns continued with 1943's Colt Comrades. In this one, Hoppy (William Boyd) and his saddle pals California (Andy Clyde) and Johnny (Jay Kirby) use a large amount of reward money to buy their own ranch. But despotic Jebb Hardin (Victor Jory), who controls the local water rights, makes life difficult for our three heroes and their ranching partner Lin Whitlock (George Reeves). When Hoppy proves a bit too tough and resiliant for Hardin, the villain begins plotting and planning the hero's hasty demise. The film's best moments include an elaborate confidence scam, with California as the sucker and Wildcat Willy (Earl Hodgins) as the suck-ee. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Riders of the Timberline
Riders of the Timberline was the 38th entry in the "Hopalong Cassidy" western series. To keep things from getting stale, star William Boyd and producer Harry Sherman began plunking Hoppy into non-western environs in the early 1940s (including, at one point, the Arabian desert!) Timberline takes place in the Great North Woods, where Cassidy and his cohorts Brad King and Andy Clyde help a campful of lumberjacks. There was plenty of opportunity for the usual riding and gunplay, but this time around the bad guys were dressed in furs and hipboots rather than buckskin. The direction of Riders of the Timberline was in the expert hands of western maestro Lesley Selander. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Texas Masquerade
William Boyd once again dons the disguise of a fop in this average entry in the long-running "Hopalong Cassidy" western series. The masquerade helps Hoppy and sidekicks California Carlson (Andy Clyde) and Jimmy Rogers get to the bottom of some dirty dealings in the Texas town of Glenby. A vicious gang of night riders has been scaring local ranchers into selling out to J.K. Trimble (Russell Simpson), a supposedly upstanding citizen who has discovered that there is oil in them thar hills. Disguised as Boston lawyer James Corwin, Hoppy at first manages merely to antagonize girl rancher Virginia Curtis (Mady Correll) but then takes her into his confidence. The unexpected arrival of old foe Sam Nolan (Francis McDonald) becomes an even greater threat, however, but aided by the real Corwin (Nelson Leigh) and disgruntled Marshal Rowbottom (Bob McKenzie), Hoppy manages to corner Trimble and his gang after a fiery shootout in the desert. Filmed at Lone Pine, Kernville and Joshua Tree National Forest, Texas Masquerade was penned by Jack Lait, Jr., the screenwriting son of famous muckraking journalist and editor Jack Lait. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

False Paradise
Returning to the scenic splendor of Lone Pine's Alabama Hills, Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) tries to help retired entomology professor Alonzo Larson (Joel Friedkin) and his daughter Anne (Elaine Riley), who have purchased a seemingly worthless piece of land, The Paradise Ranch. Larson has paid crooked land agent Bentley (Kenneth MacDonald) $5000 for the arid range but when Hoppy discovers the possible presence of silver on the property, Bentley and his cohort Gerald Waite (Cliff Clark), the town banker, try to null and void the sale in a rather violent manner. False Paradise was the 11th of 12 Hopalong Cassidy Westerns produced by William Boyd for United Artists release. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Hoppy Serves a Writ
Best known today as Robert Mitchum's screen-acting debut, this fine entry in the long-running Hopalong Cassidy series features the silver-haired hero (William Boyd) as a Texas lawman posing as a gambler in order to track down a gang of highwaymen and cattle rustlers who have found refuge in lawless Oklahoma Territory. Although quickly identifying scar-faced Tom Jordan (Victor Jory) as the leader of the gang, Hoppy has no jurisdiction in the territory and is forced to lure the gang back to Texas. Hoppy Serves a Writ was the final series entry based on an original story by Clarence E. Mulford, the creator of the "Bar 20" novels. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Secrets of the Wastelands
Secrets of the Wasteland is a lesser "Hopalong Cassidy" western, with talk taking precedence over action. This time, Hoppy (William Boyd) and his pals Johnny (Brad King) and California (Andy Clyde) head out on an archeological expedition. While encamped in the San Fernando Valley, our heroes come to the aid of a group of Chinese settlers who are being victimized by land-usurper Salter (Douglas Fowley)and his minions.. As a nod to timeliness, the head of the Chinese colony, May Soong (Soo Young), is obviously based on modern-day China's Mme. Chiang Kai-Shek, while the treacherous Salter is most Hitlerian in his gestures and attitudes. Outside of these calculated anachronisms, Secrets of the Wasteland is nothing special. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Three Men from Texas
The three men of the title in this superior B-Western are Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd), Lucky Jenkins (Russell Hayden), and, making his series debut, grizzled old California Carlson (Andy Clyde). Carlson is the braggart cook of the Gardner outfit, a gang preying on defenseless ranchers, but when apprehended by Texas Ranger Hoppy, the old fool admits to having overstated his famous exploits. The bemused Hoppy takes California along to his namesake state, where Lucky is having a tough time bringing law and order to Santa Carmen, a community terrorized by greedy saloon proprietor Bruce Morgan (Morris Ankrum). Always the hothead, Lucky is determined to show Hoppy that he can handle things himself without any help. A bullet in the shoulder settles the matter once and for all, however, and the three work together to capture Morgan and his gang of cutthroats. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

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