Western Legends 50 Movie Pack [12 Discs] [DVD]
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Overview

Synopsis

Colorado Sundown
Rather than the usual cattlemen vs. sheep men conflict, this above-average Rex Allen western contrasts ranchers of all kinds with the Hurley Lumber Mill company, whose destructive business methods cause flashfloods that threatens to destroy all the grazing land in Pine Valley. Assuming to be the sole heirs to the Zeke Reynolds estate, a ranch with plenty of possibilities for timber interests, Carrie Hurley (June Vincent) and her brother Dan (Fred Graham) are dismayed to learn that the dear departed also saw fit to include Slim Pickens and distant relative Jacqueline Reynolds (Mary Ellen Kay) in his bequest. Having already murdered an inquisitive forest ranger (Russ Conway), the Hurleys are not about to share the lucrative Reynolds property but the homicidal brother-and-sister team bargains without Slim's boss, Rex Allen. When not battling the glacial Carrie Hurley and her henchmen, Allen and The Republic Rhythm Riders (who received introductory billing) perform "I'm Leaving on the Pine Valley Stage" "Under Colorado Stars" and the traditional "Down By the Riverside". ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Take Me Back to Oklahoma
Featuring even more musical numbers than usual, this Tex Ritter Western from Monogram marked the feature film debut of the "King of Western Swing," Bob Wills, and his Texas Playboys, a group that also included Wills' brother Johnnie Lee Wills. The group performed no less than four numbers in a row -- including Wills' own Good Old Oklahoma, Lone Star Rag and {&The Bob Wills Special}. Surrounding all this harmonizing, screenwriter Robert Emmett Tansey crafted a rather commonplace Western fable of Ritter and sidekick Slim Andrews rescuing a stage line owned by leading lady Terry Walker. The line is being sabotaged by rival operator (Karl Hackett). To get rid of the pesky Ritter, Hackett hires a notorious outlaw, Olin Francis. But Ritter has befriended Francis' young son and the scheme fails miserably. Ritter, whose pugilistic fervor always seemed more authentic than that of most singing cowboys, injured his knee in a fight with Hackett and production had to be suspended for two weeks, a rather expensive development for low-budget Monogram. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Feud of the Range
The first of eight Bob Steele Westerns from Gower Gulch producer Harry S. Webb's Metropolitan Pictures Corp., Feud of the Range had been filmed as The Kanab Kid in Kanab, UT, in the fall of 1938. An ignominious beginning of an justly infamous series, the Western starred the diminutive Steele as a cowboy returning to the old homestead along with his pal, Happy (Budd Buster). They arrive in the middle of a range war that ultimately separates father and son. But as Bob quickly learns, the troubles are caused by greedy Clyde Barton (Jack Ingram), who is hoping to drive the local ranchers off their valuable land. A rough hewn affair that depended too much on stock footage, Feud of the Range was further handicapped by the amateurish performance of its nominal leading lady, former child actress Gertrude Messinger, who, for most of the duration, had eyes only for villain Jack Ingram. The series proved the nadir for the veteran Steele, who next starred for yet another Poverty Row company, the much derided PRC. Coming from Metropolitan, however, even PRC was actually a step up. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Thunder River Feud
Thunder River Feud is the latest adventure of "The Range Busters," aka Ray "Crash" Corrigan, John "Dusty" King and Max "Alibi" Terhune. This time, the heroic trio come to the rescue of pretty rancher Maybelle (Jan Wiley), who is stuck in the middle of a deadly range war. Causing all the ruckus is villain Pembroke (Jack H. Holmes), who pits the cattlemen against the homesteaders in hopes of wiping out both factions for his own financial gain. The Range Busters quickly figure out what the bad guy is up to, and from then on in it's "Katy bar the door!" Somewhere along the line, John King gets to sing "What a Wonderful Day". ~ Hal Erickson, 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

Whistling Bullets
Whistling Bullets was one of better Kermit Maynard westerns from the Ambassador Pictures "B"-mill. Based on a story by James Oliver Curwood, the story finds Texas Ranger Larry Graham (Maynard) hot on the trail of an outlaw and his gang. To gain the villains' confidence, Larry poses as an escaped criminal, deliberately gets sent to prison, and befriends the outlaw, hoping that the fellow will lead him to a cache of stolen money. John English, later a mainstay of the Republic "B"-western product., directs, while Harlene Wood co-stars as the heroine. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Fast Bullets
Stuffed dummies on horseback manage to fool a gang of munitions smugglers in this farfetched low-budget Western from the Reliable company. Tom Tyler stars as a Texas ranger going undercover to infiltrate the aforementioned gang, which is lead by nasty Travis (Al Bridge). The outlaw, however, learns of the ranger's subterfuge and orders him killed. Luckily, Tom's associate, Jimmy (Rex Lease), manages to get help from the ranger captain (William Gould) and the stuffed dummies are send in ahead of the rescue team. Using subterfuge, Travis escapes with Jimmy's blond sister, Joan (Margaret Nearing), but is eventually tracked down by Tom. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Bells of San Fernando
Bells of San Fernando was advertised as a romantic adventure, but it plays more like a Western. Donald Woods plays an Irish immigrant who teams with Mexican gal Gloria Warren to combat land baron Anthony Warde. Whenever the plot lags, Warren sings. Catch the name of "Renault Duncan" in the screenplay credits of Bells of San Fernando. It's really actor Duncan Renaldo, aka "The Cisco Kid" -- which may explain why the film looks like a thinly disguised "Cisco" episode. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Red River Valley
In this entertaining western, Roy Rogers rides to the rescue of ranchers threatened by a drought. With his rousing songs, he rallies the reluctant fellows together to donate a large sum of money to build a new reservoir. Things go well until a gambler gets involved and winds up stealing the $182,000 fund. This angers Rogers who rides out after him and brings him to justice. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

'Neath the Arizona Skies
John Wayne attempts to locate Shirley Jean Rickert's wayward father in this low-budget Western from his days with Monogram. The little girl, a "half-breed," is the heir to a 50,000-dollar Indian oil claim, but she needs the signature of her long-lost father in order to collect. Chris Morrell, Nina's foster father, manages to get the tyke out of town before Sam Black (Yakima Canutt) and his gang can get their grubby hands on her and her inheritance, but other villains learn of the girl's potential windfall, including express office robbers Vic Byrd (Jack Rockwell) and Jim Moore (Jay Wilsey). When Vic finally gets hold of the child, he is shot and killed by one of his own hands, Tom (Earl Dwire), who is revealed to be Nina's real father. With Tom's help, Chris manages to trick the Black gang and is able to storm their hideout. In the ensuing melee, Tom is fatally shot but Byrd manages to escape with Nina. Chris goes after them and there is a final confrontation in a raging river. 'Neath the Arizona Skies was based on Gun Glory, a short story by B.R. Tuttle, which had been filmed in 1933 by maverick producer Victor Adamson as Circle Canyon. This earlier version starred Buddy Roosevelt as Chris and Clarise Woods as the little heiress. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Coyote Trails
In the fourth of 18 inexpensive Tom Tyler Westerns produced by Reliable Pictures and filmed on location in Newhall, California, Tom and his sidekick, Windy (Ben Corbett), are hired by John Baker's Bar X Ranch. Baker (Lafe McKee) offers a $1,000 reward to anyone who can capture "The Phantom," a wild stallion suspected of chasing a herd of mares through a hole in the Bar X fence. The real horse thief, however, is Bar X's unscrupulous neighbor, Mack Larkin (Dick Alexander), who is in cahoots with Baker's crooked foreman, Bert (Charles "Slim" Whitaker). Tom befriends "The Phantom" and is determined to prove the horse innocent. Despite the skepticism of Baker's pretty daughter, Helen (Alice Dahl), Tom and Windy set out to prove Larkin's guilt. Although sharing the same character name, "Windy," the rustic Corbett had little else in common with George Hayes (later nicknamed "Gabby"), the quintessential comic sidekick of "Hopalong Cassidy" series fame. A holdover from the silent era, Corbett was woefully unfunny and an amateurish actor to boot. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Call of the Forest
In this youthful adventure, a young boy and a wild stallion, Black Diamond, form an unbreakable bond. It is the boy's father who captured and gentled the remarkable horse. Later, when the father's life is threatened by wicked claim jumpers after his mine, the boy and the courageous horse rush to his aid. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

The Naked Hills
The talented David Wayne is afforded a rare movie starring role in Allied Artists' The Naked Hills. Wayne plays prospector Tracy Powell, whose all-consuming lust for gold motivates the plot. Heading to California during the '49 Gold Rush to try his luck in the mineral-rich mountains, Powell is forever one step behind those who are smarter and swifter than he. Meanwhile, Powell's wife Julie (Marcia Henderson) waits patiently at home for her husband to return from his many lengthy absences. At film's end, the older-but-no-wiser Powell is still chasing rainbows, with the fabled pot of gold still just beyond his reach. The excellent supporting cast includes James Barton as Powell's grizzled partner and Keenan Wynn and Jim Backus as a pair of claim-jumping sharpsters. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Mystery Ranch
The comedic sidekick is shockingly done away with in this unusual and highly atmospheric Western from Fox. George O'Brien, of Sunrise (1927) fame, stars as Bob Sanborn, an Arizona ranger assigned to quell a reign of terror instigated by Paradise Valley rancher Henry Steele (Charles Middleton), who employs a band of Apaches to prey on his neighbors. Obviously insane, Steele has a penchant for killing not only his enemies but also defenseless animals. Masquerading as a cowboy, Bob manages to gain access to Steele's ranch where he encounters lovely Jane Emory (Cecilia Parker), the daughter of Steele's late partner whom the clearly mad rancher has lured into his lair. When Bob learns that Steele is planning to force Jane into marriage, the ranger telegraphs for assistance in the form of cockney jockey Artie Brower (Forrester Harvey), whose riding skills and quick wit save Bob from being mauled by Steele's giant servant Muto (Noble Johnson). Although down, Steele is not quite out and the insane rancher manages to kill Artie before committing a spectacular suicide. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Dawn Rider
An average entry in the otherwise above-average Monogram/"Lone Star" Western series starring John Wayne, this film is noteworthy for containing one of the last screen appearances of Joseph De Grasse, a major silent screen actor-director, who -- with his screenwriter wife Ida May Park -- created scores of well-received Universal melodramas in the 1910s. De Grasse appears all too briefly here as Wayne's father, murdered during a robbery of his express office. Wayne, playing John Mason, chases after the killer, an outlaw whose face is hidden behind a polka dot neckerchief. Mason is injured during the chase and brought to the home of Alice Gordon (Marion Burns) by newfound friend Ben McClure (Reed Howes). Nursed back to health by Alice, with whom he is falling in love, Mason sets a trap for the killer and his gang by announcing that he is guarding a valuable gold shipment. The killer is revealed to be Rudd, Alice's brother (Dennis Moore, here billed "Denny Meadow"), whom John challenges to a duel. Feeling betrayed by Mason's love for Alice, Ben secretly substitutes the bullets in his former friend's gun with blanks. Persuaded by Alice that John has done nothing untoward, a repentant Ben arrives just in time to save his friend from certain death but is himself felled by a bullet fired by villainous barkeep Yakima Canutt in a final, well-staged, shootout. What there is of comic relief in this rather dour Western is provided by gangly Nelson McDowell, an actor seemingly born to portray comic undertakers, which is exactly what he plays here. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Roarin' Guns
An average low-budget Western from short-lived Puritan Pictures, Roarin' Guns starred Tim McCoy as Tim Corwin, an agent for the Cattlemen's Association assigned to look into a range war between settlers and powerful cattle baron Walton (Wheeler Oakman). Tim befriends Bob Morgan (John Elliott), a farm hand whose employer and niece, May Carter (Rosalinda Price), is due to arrive from the East. While teaching Bob's son, Buddy (Tommy Bupp), how to use a gun, Tim becomes a target of one of Walton's henchmen, Jerry (Rex Lease). In the ensuing scuffle, Bob is killed and Walton accuses Tim of the deed. When May arrives, she is told that Tim killed her uncle. With the assistance of little Buddy, Tim eventually manages to convince the girl of his innocence. But the sheriff (Ed Cassidy) is another matter and it takes the concerted efforts of all three to capture Walton. Roarin' Guns was arguably the weakest of the ten McCoy-Puritan Westerns; his next release, Aces and Eights, on the other hand, was the finest entry in the series. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Range Busters
In emulation of Republic's "Three Mesquiteers" western series, Monogram launched its own three-star sagebrush property, "The Range Busters"-which was also the name of the first film in the series. Former Mesquiteers Ray "Crash" Corrigan and Max Terhune comprised two-thirds of the Range Busters, with John "Dusty" King completing the trio. The initial entry was as much a whodunit as a western, with the heroic triumvirate trying to ascertain the identity of The Phantom, a mysterious murderer. The revelation of the culprit will be a surprise to anyone who hasn't caught on to the clues planted in Reel One. Boasting good performances and well-chosen, unfamiliar outdoor locations, The Range Busters was an auspicious start to one of Monogram's most lucrative series. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Git Along Little Dogies
Gene Autry gets into a heated fight with an oil company in this very tuneful early entry in the Autry oeuvre, restored in 2001 under the auspices of "Gene Autry Entertainment. Gene, who believes the oil wells will pollute the grazing land, is feuding with broadcaster Doris Maxwell (Judith Allen), whose banker father (William Farnum) has embezzled $25,000 to fund a local drilling project. Our hero, however, changes his mind when news arrives of a railroad to be built if and when the well comes in. He also discovers that George Wilkins (Weldon Heyburn), the oil-drilling superintendent, has framed old man Maxwell and is now claiming the well to be dry in order to take over the operation himself. In addition to Harris Heyman and Snyde Miller's title tune and Jean Schwartz and William Jerome's "Chinatown My Chinatown, Git Along Little Dogie includes a sing-along of such standard melodies as "Red River Valley" and She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain", complete with on-screen lyrics for audience participation. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Man from Texas
Eagle-Lion studios inaugurated its new "big budget" western policy with 1948's The Man From Texas. James Craig stars as the El Paso Kid, who can't make up his mind whether to be an upstanding, decent citizen or a masked bandit. He continues to vacillate all through the picture, much to the dismay of his wife Zoe (Lynn Bari, in a rare sympathetic performance). Among those benefitting from the Kid's "good" spells is the Widow Weeks (Una Merkel), who's in danger of losing her farm. Singing star Johnnie Johnston wanders in and out of the proceedings as a frontier balladeer, occasionally commenting upon the action -- a device later used to better effect in Lang's Rancho Notorious and Zinneman's High Noon. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Frontier Scout
Frontier Scout was one of a handful of western vehicles for opera star George Houston, who adapted surprisingly well to his sagebrush surrounding. Singing nary a note during the film's 60 minutes, Houston is cast as Wild Bill Hickok, flowing hair and all. After nearly single-handedly winning the Civil War, Hickok takes on a gang of cattle rustlers, headed by crooked ranch foreman Bennett (Guy Chase). Our hero handles matters so well that he wins the hand of pretty Mary (Beth Marion), sister of ranch owner Steve (Dave O'Brien). Had he not decided to return to the stage, George Houston might have enjoyed a substantial film career. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Between Men
In his second Western for Poverty Row producer A.W. Hackel, former football star Johnny Mack Brown goes in search of both his long-lost father and foster-sister. Mistakenly believing that they murdered his young son Johnny, John Wellington (William Farnum) kills three ruffians and becomes a wanted man. Young Johnny (Barry Downing), who had survived the attack, is instead raised by rich Sir George Thorne (Lloyd Ingraham). The latter's old-fashioned ideas causes him to lose both his son-in-law, Gentry Winters (Frank Ball), and young granddaughter, Gale. In his search for the missing girl, Johnny ( now Mack Brown) learns that Winters has been killed by Trent (Earl Dwire), an outlaw whose advances Gale (Beth Marion) had spurned. Aiding Johnny in his quest to capture Trent is one Rand who, it turns out, is none other than the missing John Wellington. Although initially opposed to Johnny's courting of Gale, Wellington/Rand changes his mind in due time and heroically takes a bullet meant for his son. After finishing off the murderous Trent in a final confrontation, Johnny can begin to plan a more peaceful future with Gale. According to contemporary reports, Between Men was filmed in six days at Lone Pine, CA. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Kid's Last Ride
The Range Riders - Ray "Crash" Corrigan, John "Dusty" King and Max "Albi" Terhune-ride the range once more in Monogram's Kid's Last Ride. Sent to a wide-open town to stem the activities of the local criminal element, our three heroes almost immediately get mixed up in a deadly feud between local land barons Harmon (Al Bridge) and Bart (Glenn Strange). The Range Riders patch things up by deflecting Harmon's son Jimmy (Edwin Brian) from a life of crime, thereby also expediting the romance between Jimmy and Bart's daughter Sally (Luana Walters). Then, almost as an afterthought, the do-gooding trio trounces the villains. Like most of the The Range Riders' entries, Kid's Last Ride was cheap but profitable. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Legend of the Lone Ranger
The first three episodes of the popular Lone Ranger television series are edited together to form this Wild West adventure detailing the origins of the eponymous do-gooder. The notorious Cavendish Gang has ambushed an entire squad of Rangers, shooting every man in sight in an attempt to kill as many lawmen as possible. But their aim wasn't true, and one Ranger has miraculously escaped death. Now, with a little help from his Native American friend Tonto, the Lone Ranger will rise to ensure that justice prevails, and the Old West remains safe for everyone. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

New Mexico
Filmed in Ansco Color (a fancy name for Eastmancolor), New Mexico stars Lew Ayres as Capt. Hunt, a U.S. Cavalry Captain stationed in Indian territory. Sympathetic to the plight of the long-suffering Native Americans, Hunt sets out to sign a peace treaty with the local chief (Ted de Corsia). En route, he rescues saloon girl Cherry (Marilyn Maxwell) from an Indian attack. Cherry remains by Hunt's side when he is forced to defend an Army fortress from the enraged chief, whose son was accidentally killed by a soldier. The supporting cast includes such TV favorites as Raymond Burr, Andy Devine, Verna Felton, and, as President Lincoln, Hans Conreid. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Clearing the Range
In the first of eight Hoot Gibson Westerns produced by poverty row company Allied, The Hooter sets out to avenge the murder of his brother (Edward Hearn), the town banker. Pretending to have no interest in revenge, Gibson is derided for cowardice. Unbeknownst to the townsfolk, however, the young man masquerades as "El Capitan," a notorious Mexican bandit at night, righting the wrongs done by Hooper Atchley, the man he suspects of killing his brother in the first place. Like in Gibson Westerns of yore, none of the derring-do was meant to be taken too seriously. And although cheap-looking compared to The Hooter's silent Universal Westerns, the Allied series at least gave the star more autonomy. Gibson main demand was that his then-wife, Sally Eilers, be cast in the female lead, a decision producer M.H. Hoffman had good reason to celebrate when the beautiful starlet became an overnight sensation in the Fox melodrama Bad Girl (1931). ~ 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 Laramie Kid
From small-scale Reliable Pictures, The Laramie Kid starred the strapping Tom Tyler as a cowboy returning home to help his girlfriend (Alberta Vaughn) save her ranch from a ruthless usurper. Promising the girl to blast the town wide open in order to get the necessary funds, Tyler soon finds himself unjustly accused of robbing the local bank. While Tyler is away in prison, Vaughn discovers evidence of his innocence, and rather than have the girl face the real culprit alone, our hero makes a daring escape. Produced and directed by Harry S. Webb, The Laramie Kid is typical of the era's better independently-made horse operas: technically crude but consisting of nary a dull moment. Tyler makes a strapping hero and an august cast that also includes Al Ferguson, Murdock MacQuarrie, George Chesebro and, for comedy purposes, Snub Pollard keep interest alive throughout. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, 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

Winds of the Wasteland
Former pony express riders John Blair (John Wayne) and Larry Adams (Lane Chandler) don't buy the Brooklyn Bridge in this Republic Western, but the two greenhorns instead purchase a dilapidated stage line to a ghost town. While the unscrupulous seller, "Honest Cal" Drake (Douglas Cosgrove), count his loot, John and Larry learn that Crescent City is inhabited by Rocky (Lew Kelly), who claims to be mayor, postmaster, and sheriff, and Dr. William Forsythe (Sam Flint), a fellow victim of the duplicitous Drake. But despite its current condition, Crescent City has rich potential, especially if the newcomers can obtain a $25,000 government mail subsidy, the winner of which will be determined by a stagecoach race between nearby Buchanan City and Sacramento. Winds of the Wasteland was filmed on location in the Sierra Mountains and in the Sacramento Valley. Watch for future Universal star Jon Hall as one of John Wayne's pony express colleagues. ~ 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

Renegade Girl
Alan Curtis plays a hired Union agent who's been dispatched to capture a Confederate gal who's the leader of some ravaging rebels. ~ Phillip Erlewine, Rovi

The Apache Kid's Escape
"Robert J. Horner," wrote film historian Don Miller, "was a man with one leg, small resources and his artistic pretensions were forthrightly nonexistent." In addition to his missing limb, Horner was also sans one eye, both handicaps the results of a car accident. Despite these physical setbacks, Horner was one of the most prolific producer-directors in what was then called Gower Gulch, the ramshackle companies inhabiting the netherworld of Hollywood filmmaking. Among Horner's stars were former luminaries such as Art Acord, Ted Wells, Fred Church, Jack Perrin and boy actor Buzz Barton. The latter three, along with Perrin's wife, Josephine Hill, headed the cast of this ramshackle western affair in which a former outlaw (Perrin) eludes the authorities by masquerading as a cowboy. The ancient plot hadn't improved with age, and Horner's parsimonious production methods were no help. The Apache Kid's Escape is only notable for having the hero lose the leading lady to another man (Church). In fact, throughout the film Perrin pays more attention to heroine Hill's teenage sister (Virginia Ashcroft)! ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Santa Fe Bound
Tom Tyler ground out 19 starring westerns for Reliable Pictures in the mid-1930s, of which Santa Fe Bound is neither the best nor worst. "Our Tom" (as he was known in the trade papers) comes to the aid of heroine Molly Bates (Jeanne Martel), who is in danger of losing her ranch to the villains. Since the chief heavy is played by Richard Cramer, possessor of one of the meanest faces in the movies, it's obvious that Tyler really has his work cut out for him this time. In addition, our hero has been entrusted with a great deal of money by Bate's banker father, a fact that leads the girl to assume that Tyler has stolen the cash. This turns out to be a blessing in disguise when Tyler, posing as an outlaw, infiltrates Cramer's criminal gang. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Yellow Rose of Texas
The Yellow Rose of Texas is, at least in the case of this Roy Rogers vehicle, both the title of a song and the name of a fancy showboat. Rogers plays a frontier insurance investigator who is assigned to locate a company payroll stolen several years earlier. Working undercover, Roy poses as a singer on the aforementioned "Yellow Rose of Texas." The showboat's owner, Betty Weston (Dale Evans), is the daughter of the man who was arrested for the robbery. She's convinced that her dad is innocent, and Roy proves that she's right by capturing the genuine culprit. Running seven reels as opposed to the usual six, The Yellow Rose of Texas was marketed as a "special" by canny Republic Pictures. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Below the Border
The Rough Riders-Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, and Raymond Hatton-go through their customary paces in the Monogram western Below the Border. Once again, the three stars play characters who are outwardly strangers to one another, but who are secretly working together to defeat a common enemy. This time around, Buck Roberts (Jones), Tim McCall (McCoy) and Sandy Hopkins (Hatton) are in hot pursuit of the desperado who murdered a US marshal and then skeedaddled South of the Border. To keep the villain off track, Buck poses as an ex-convict, Tim pretends to be a wealthy cattle buyer, and Sandy impersonates a saloon handyman. By film's end, however, the three heroes have united as one, and it's curtains for bad guy Slade (Charles King). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

High Lonesome
When there is a sudden outbreak of mysterious murders in the Texas Big Bend country, a young drifter new to the area, played by John Barrymore, is the prime suspect. Captured and held for the murders, the rancher who is holding Barrymore does not realize that he has been set up to take the fall for these murders by some men who were thought to have been killed years before in a range war. Now these despicable men are back and are getting their own revenge on those who were involved in the range war which left them wounded. ~ Tana Hobart, Rovi

Ridin' Down the Canyon
Roy Rogers takes on crooked wartime profiteeers in the musical western Ridin' Down the Canyon. Posing as solid citizens, the crooks spend their evening hours stealing horses from local ranchers, then selling the steeds to the government at exorbitant prices. The head of the bad guys runs a dude ranch where Rogers and his pals (The Sons of the Pioneers) are employed. When Rogers figures out what's what, he sets about to bring the rustlers to justice. There's some piquancy in the fact that the character played by juvenile actor Buzzy Henry is named Bobby Blake; within a few years, the real Bobby Blake (who later grew up to become Robert Blake) would be appearing as Little Beaver in Republic's "Red Ryder" western series. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cavalcade of the West
In his final Western for low-budget Diversion Pictures, veteran cowboy ace Hoot Gibson plays a pony express rider who discovers that his worst enemy is his own long-lost brother. As a child, Clint Knox (Jerry Tucker), and his mother Martha (Nina Guilbert), escaped a gang of bandits who killed Mr. Knox Steve Clark and abducted Clint's brother Ace (Barry Downing). Eleven years later, the adult Clint (Hoot Gibson), now a pony express rider, is ambushed by Ace (Rex Lease), a road agent who also robs a stage carrying Martha and pretty Mary Chrisman (Marion Shilling). In the ensuing gunfight, Clint's life is saved when his pocket bible stops one of Ace's bullet. But when Ace, now Clint's prisoner, recites an illegible inscription in the book, Clint realizes that he is his brother. At the trial, Clint successfully convinces the jury to acquit Ace because of the young man's harsh upbringing in the hands of his kidnappers. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

King of the Cowboys
The budget for this fine Roy Rogers Western was doubled and the title changed from Starlight on the Trail to the more descriptive King of the Cowboys, mainly due to Rogers' great reception on a personal appearance tour in the fall of 1942. Republic had lost Gene Autry to the war effort and this film, more than any other, brought the heretofore also-ran singing cowboy to the forefront, where he remained through the early '50s. Following the example of Autry, Roy played himself, a rodeo star assigned by the governor, Russell Hicks, to investigate a series of warehouse bombings. With sidekick Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette) in tow, Roy infiltrates the Merry Makers, a touring tent show whose phony mind reader, Maurice (Gerald Mohr), is the chief operative for a sabotage ring run by the governor's secretary, Kraly (Lloyd Corrigan). But Maurice catches Roy stealing his book of codes and is about to shoot him in cold blood when tent show owner Dave Mason (James Bush) interferes. Maurice then eliminates Mason and frames Roy for the killing but despite this setback, Roy manages to stop the saboteurs before they can blow up a supply train needed in the war effort. An "everything but the kitchen sink" action-thriller, King of the Cowboys came complete with seven songs performed by Rogers, Burnette, and the Sons of the Pioneers, including "Ride, Ranger, Ride," "Roll Along Prairie Moon," and Johnny Mercer's "I'm an Old Cowhand." The film was restored to its full theatrical length by the Roan Group in the late '90s and re-released on a DVD that also features the original theatrical trailer and alternate scenes from a separate version released only to the War Department. In these scenes, Lloyd Corrigan's character is a businessman rather than the governor's secretary, and his Nazi affiliation is more clearly established. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Forbidden Trails
The "Rough Riders"-Buck Jones, Tim McCoy and Raymond Hatton-are back in the saddle in Forbidden Trails. As was customary, the stars play three wildly diverse types who are apparently strangers to one another when the film begins. In this instance, Buck Roberts (Jones) is a dude gambler, Tim McCall (McCoy) is head driver for a stagecoach line, and Sandy Hopkins (Hatton) is a desert rat who's apparently in cahoots with a pair of escaped outlaws. By Reel Four, however, it is obvious that Buck, Tim and Sandy are secretly working together to thwart the villains. In the film's most exciting scene, Buck is trapped in a burning shack while a contingent of well-armed bandits block his escape. Future "Three Stooges" heroine Christine McIntyre is the leading lady on this occasion. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Cowboy Millionaire
Cowboy Millionaire is one of the last and best of George O'Brien's western vehicles at the Fox Studios. O'Brien is in charge of a dude ranch, where his newest customer is wealthy English girl Evelyn Bostock. They fall in and out of love, and soon Bostock is heading back to the British Isles. O'Brien follows her, setting British society on its ear with his no-holds-barred behavior. Cowboy Millionaire was produced by Sol Lesser, who when he wasn't busy financing westerns could be found recording the cinematic exploits of boy soprano Bobby Breen and grown-up jungle man Tarzan. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Trail Beyond
Loosely based on a story by pulp writer James Oliver Curwood, this Lone Star Western released by Monogram starred a young John Wayne helping an old family friend (James Marcus) find his long-lost brother and niece. Traveling by train to the Canadian Northwest, Rod Drew (Wayne) is reacquainted with old school chum Wabi (Noah Beery Jr.), a "half-breed" falsely accused of shooting a card shark. Escaping the law, the two friends find their way to Wabinosh General Store, whose gregarious owner, Newsome (Noah Beery), is in possession of a map leading to the whereabouts of the missing Ball family and a fortune in gold. A nefarious French trapper, LaRocque (Robert Frazer), is also interested in the map but Drew and Wabi beat him to the location of John Ball's abandoned cabin. Ball himself is long dead but a portrait proves that his daughter is none other than Felice (Verna Hillie), the adopted daughter of the general store owner. Felice and Rod have fallen in love, however, and after delivering the villains to the mounted police, they leave the Northwest together. A remake of the silent The Wolf Hunters (1926), The Trail Beyond was filmed at majestic Kings Canyon National Park in central California and includes several impressive stunts performed by Yakima Canutt and Eddie Parker. (One stunt that failed -- a transfer from horse to wagon -- was left in the film, adding a rare touch of realism to the proceedings.) The beautifully restored version of the film comes complete with a new background score, a nuisance to purists, perhaps, but a welcome addition for the more casual viewer. A colorized version is also available. Monogram filmed the story a third time, as The Wolf Hunters (1949) and starring Kirby Grant. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Trailing Double Trouble
Trailing Double Trouble was the second entry in Monogram's "Range Busters" series. Ray Corrigan, John King and Max Terhune star respectively as Crash, Dusty and Alibi, three wandering do-gooders dedicated to cleaning up the West. One wag suggested that this film could have been retitled "The Range Busters and the Baby", inasmuch as our three heroes champion the cause of an infant (Mary Louise King) who has just inherited $50,000. Unscrupulous attorney Jim Moreland (Roy Barcroft) hopes to use the kid to gain access to the money, but the Range Busters prevent this by "kidnapping" the baby. In due time, the child's mother (Lita Conway) is herself kidnapped by the villains, leading to the long-anticipated showdown between Good Guys and Bad Guys. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Roamin' Wild
Between 1934 and 1936, Producer/director Bernard B. Ray ground out 19 westerns starring flinty-eyed Tom Tyler. 1936's Roamin' Wild was neither the best nor worst; if you liked Tyler, you'd like the picture. The title is an apt description of the plot, which roams from one wild fistfight or gun duel to the next, with little rhyme or reason. Tyler upholds his dignity throughout, even when the other actors muff lines and the sound quality wavers between adequate and tin-can-and-a-string. The photography is gorgeous, especially when seen in a good print. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Buckskin Frontier
Originally slated for Paramount release, Buckskin Frontier was ultimately distributed by United Artists. Richard Dix stars as railroad troubleshooter Stephen Bent, assigned to supervise the building of 120 miles of track through the treacherous Santa Fe cutoff. He is opposed in this mission by land baron and freight service owner Jeptha Marr (Lee J. Cobb), who backs up his opposition with hired guns. Marr, in turn, is defied by his daughter Vinnie (Jane Wyatt), who is not only a visionary, but has also fallen in love with Bent. Amusingly, though Lee J. Cobb and Jane Wyatt play father and daughter in Buckskin Frontier, both actors were 31 years old at the time! The film was produced by Harry "Pop" Sherman, of "Hopalong Cassidy" fame. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Death Rides the Range
The otherwise standard Ken Maynard western Death Rides the Range is distinguished somewhat by a topical slant. The plot concerns a group of spies from an unnamed foreign country (gee, they sure sound German) who head westward to undermine American morale. Into this malaise wanders Maynard, supposedly a rootless cowpoke but in reality an FBI agent. Things begin to heat up when the villains lay claim to a helium well on the property owned by heroine Fay McKenzie. The film's silliest moment occurs in mid-stream, when chief villain Charlie King begins beating up everyone within arm's length, with nary a scratch on his own person. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Southward Ho!
Roy Rogers got himself a new sidekick in the disheveled, toothless person of George "Gabby" Hayes in this fine Republic western, a partnership that would last until 1946. Roy and Gabby play veterans of the Confederate Army who inherit half-ownership of a Texas ranch. Unfortunately, the other half belongs to Colonel Denbigh (Wade Boteler), a Union officer with whom they had an unpleasant experience during the past war between the states. Denbigh, however, is appointed military governor of the district and when a police squadron under the command of one Captain Jeffries (Arthur Loft) is revealed to consist of outlaws, it is Roy and Gabby who come to Denbigh's rescue and restore peace to the territory. When not fighting the nasty Arthur Loft and his gang of cutthroats Rogers performs such numbers as "Headin' for Texas and Home", "Hope I'm Not Dreaming Again" and "Keep Awalking the Other Way". ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Whirlwind Horseman
The first of six Ken Maynard Westerns produced on the cheap by the Alexander brothers, Max and Arthur, Whirlwind Horseman awarded Ken one of filmdom's least memorable sidekicks, Bill Griffith. En route to their friend Cherokee Jake's (Budd Buster) gold mine, Ken and Happy Holmes are waylaid by Peggy Radford (Joan Barclay), who is in trouble with a gang of cattle rustlers. Ken kills one of the bandits during an attack on the Radford ranch only to discover that the snakeskin the dead man was wearing belongs to Cherokee. At one point, Ken suspects Peggy's father (Joseph W. Girard) of being the secret leader of the rustlers, but further investigation reveals him to be Banker Harper (Kenneth Harlan), who wanted to buy up cheaply the land surrounding Cherokee's mine. The Whirlwind Horseman was memorable to Maynard only because he had battled a furious cold all through the filming. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Trail of the Hawk
Edward Dmytryk, director of such films as The Carpetbaggers and The Caine Mutiny, takes the helm for this early effort detailing the struggle for love and justice on the sprawling American plains. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Roaring Six Guns
Kermit Maynard, the less-popular but arguably more talented brother of cowboy star Ken Maynard, heads the cast of Roaring Six Guns. Maynard plays Buck Sinclair, whose romance with heroine Beth (Mary Hayes) is hampered by the activities of her bombastic father (Sam Flint). Beth's dad covets a patch of government range land -- the same patch also coveted by Buck. The two men continue feuding until Buck wins Daddy's undying friendship by proving that the old man's business partner (John Merton) is a no-account crook. Budd Buster raises a few laughs (very few) as Maynard's comical sidekick. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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