Bob Steele Double Feature Collection, Vol. 3 [7 Discs] [DVD]

For years, actor Bob Steele (1907-88) held court as one of America's most popular onscreen cowboys. This box set pays homage to Steele with fourteen of his most popular features, produced between 1930-45. Titles include Fighting Champ, Near the Rainbow's End, Western Justice, Sundown Saunders, The Rider of the Law and The Pal from Texas.
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Billy the Kid Outlawed
Brand of the Outlaws
Bob Steele was directed by his father Robert N. Bradbury in Brand of the Outlaws. Can it be that Our Hero has turned outlaw himself? It sure seems that way, given the fact that Bob comes to the aid of a gang of rustlers. But fear not: Steele is merely working undercover, in search of (you guessed it) the murderer of his father. Quality-wise Brand of the Outlaws is a big step up from his earlier efforts for A. W. Hackel's Supreme Pictures. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Kid Courageous
Released in the wake of the bizarre Big Calibre (1935), this below-average Bob Steele Western directed by his father Robert North Bradbury stayed mainly on the straight and narrow. Thrown out of the family mining business by his stern father (Lafe McKee), ne'er-do-well Bob Bannister (Steele) jumps a freight train heading West. Forced at gun-point to change clothes with Apache Joe (Bill Patton), a fleeing criminal, Bob discovers that Apache is the member of a gang holding Bannister employee Jake Gibbons (Barney Furey) hostage in a cave. The mastermind behind the scheme is Bannister foreman Kincaid (Jack Cowell), who hires boxing promoter Spike Grogan (Kit Guard) as a bodyguard, unaware that Grogan is Bob's pal. When Kincaid kidnaps Theresa Mendoza (Renee Borden), Bob and Grogan take matters into their own hands and chase them down. The villain gets his just dessert and Bob is restored to his father's good graces. Kid Courageous was filmed simultaneous with the previous Steele effort, the aforementioned Western Justice and was the sixth of thirty-two Steele Westerns produced by A.W. Hackel's Supreme Pictures Corp. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Wildfire was the first release from Screen Guild Productions, the adventuresome little independent that would eventually metamorphose into Lippert Pictures Inc. The title character is a magnificent wild horse, slated to be destroyed by a group of ranchers. It seems that Wildfire is being held responsible for luring the ranchers' own stock of horses into the hills. Bob Steele and Sterling Holloway play Happy and Alkali, two rambunctious horsetraders who rescue Wildfire from extinction. Apparently they succeed, inasmuch as 1948 brought forth a sequel, Return of Wildfire, which unlike its predecessor was lensed in Sepiatone rather than Cinecolor. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Sundown Saunders
Western favorite Bob Steele stars as Sundown Saunders, so named because of his remarkable ability to win at poker just at the moment when the sun goes down. Winning 640 acres of land in a pony race, Saunders leaves cards and chips behind to take charge of his property. He doesn't yet know that his is the finest grazing land in the territory -- but the villainous Taggart (Ed Cassidy) does know, and he does everything in his power to drive Saunders off the land. Even worse, Taggart is a backshooter, and Saunders had just turned his back! Sundown Saunders is an oddity in the Bob Steele canon, in that the hero's father isn't murdered. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Pal from Texas
The fifth of eight Metropolitan Bob Steele B-Westerns, The Pal From Texas featured the diminutive screen cowboy attempting to prevent old prospector pal (Josef Swickard) from being swindled by an unscrupulous tavern owner (Ted Adams). When the friend, Texas, is found murdered, suspicion immediately falls on Bob. Even Texas' niece, Alice (Claire Rochelle), believes Bob to be the killer. With the sheriff (Jack Perrin) and his posse close behind, Bob manages to unearth enough evidence to convict the tavern owner and his gang of racketeering and murder. With his innocence firmly established, Bob proposes to Alice. A blond starlet who often portrayed brassy dames, Claire Rochelle was Bob Steele's leading lady in four Westerns from 1937-1939. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Son of Oklahoma
The last of Bob Steele's six Westerns of Poverty Row company Sono Art-World Wide, Son of Oklahoma was directed by the diminutive cowboy's real-life father, Robert North Bradbury, and filmed on locations in the Mojave Desert near Palmdale, CA. Steele, who broke his arm during the making of the film, plays Dan Clayton, a foundling raised by Mexican Manuel Verdugo (Julian Rivero). When Dan was a child, his mother, Mary (Josie Sedgwick), was forced at gunpoint to leave husband and child in favor of nasty Ray Brent (Earl Dwire). Brent returns to the Clayton wagon and shoots Dan's father, John (Robert E. Homans), in cold blood, happily missing the child. Years later, Dan plans to marry Verdugo's pretty daughter, Anita (Carmen Laroux), and take over the Verdugo's gold mine. Determined to locate the Mexican's hidden mine, Brent promises Mary Clayton, now a saloon owner known as "Shotgun" Mary, to locate her missing son. Dan later finds Mary lost in the desert and brings her to the mine. She realizes that the young man is her son, but keeps silent. Brent, meanwhile, frames Dan in a stagecoach robbery, but Mary helps her son escape from the posse. Determined to return to her former life by selling the saloon, Mary discovers that the local sheriff is her long-lost husband, who had only been wounded by Brent. The latter is killed in a climactic shootout with Dan and the Claytons are reunited at last. One of the few genuine cowgirls to star in series Westerns, Josie Sedgwick had retired in 1926 but was persuaded by producer Trem Carr to return for this one film. Having fulfilled their obligation to deliver six Westerns, Carr and Steele left Sono Art-World Wide in favor of Monogram, which Carr had founded in 1931 with W. Ray Johnston. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Near the Trail's End
Poor Marion Shockley finds herself the victim of both a robbery and a kidnapping in this obscure but quite well-made Poverty Row Western starring the diminutive Bob Steele. After saving Jane Rankin (Shockley) from her kidnappers, Johnny Day (Steele) is elected Cactus town marshal but what at first appears to be a breezy job proves highly dangerous when local bully Bart Morgan (Hooper Atchley) not only claims Jane as his but engages in a bit of cattle rustling on the side. Fortunately, Johnny is spared more trouble when Morgan is killed in a fight with another of Jane's pursuers, Red Thompson (Jay Morley). Near the Trail's End was the last of eight Westerns Steele did for low-budget company Tiffany and the only feature film to co-star Marion Shockley, a 1932 WAMPAS Baby Star better known for her work in comedy shorts and on radio. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Fighting Champ
B-Western perennial Bob Steele made attempts at diversifying in 1933 by playing a circus acrobat in The Gallant Fool and a would-be boxer in The Fighting Champ, although, truth be told, never veering too far from the range in either. In The Fighting Champ, Steele plays Brick Loring, an itinerant cowboy who shows some promise as a prize-fighter. Crooked fight promoter Nifty Harmon (George Chesebro) attempts to bribe both Brick and his opponent Jock Malone (Charles King) to throw the match and although Brick only pretends to be interested, his backer, rancher Fred Mullins (Frank Ball), publicly accuses him of cheating. Mullins daughter Jean (Arletta Duncan), meanwhile, believes the young cowboy to be innocent and sets a trap for both Harmon and Malone. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Western Justice
Released in the wake of the spooky The Big Calibre (1935), this Bob Steele Western featured the spectacle of a villain skinned alive as punishment for attempted rape. Scripted by director Robert North Bradbury (Steele's real-life father), Western Justice presented Steele as Ace, an apparent drifter coming to the aid of Rufe (Perry Murdock), who has been falsely accused of robbery. Searching for clues that will clear Rufe, Ace finds himself playing poker in a deserted cabin with Pancho Lopez (Julian Rivero, whose daughter died after being attacked by Clem Slade, the real robber, and the sheriff (Lafe McKee). The three of them agree to prospect together at Red Ford, AZ, where they find the community in the midst of a water dispute with nasty businessman John Brent (Jack Cowell). The latter's chief henchman proves to be none other than the wanted Clem Slade (Arthur Loft). Recognizing his daughter's betrayer, Pancho kills him in the gang's mountain hideout by skinning him alive. Ace, who reveals himself to be a lawman, captures Brent in an ambush and restores the town's water supply by dynamiting the mountain. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Trusted Outlaw
Though A.W. Hackel's Supreme Pictures went belly-up in 1936, he continued grinding out his popular Bob Steele westerns, shifting distribution to up-and-coming Republic. Steele plays Dan, the headstrong young son of a notorious outlaw. Dan is forced not only to live down his dad's reputation, but also his own, since it's been rumored that he has strayed to the wrong side of the law from time to time. He manages to prove that he's a good guy after all, but in a surprise development he doesn't win the film's official heroine Molly (Lois January), who has jilted him for another. Fortunately, second lead Betty (Joan Barclay) is there to pick up the pieces. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Near the Rainbow's End
Bob Steele's talkie debut was the usual story of cattlemen versus sheepmen. Steele, the son of a cattle rancher, naturally belongs to the former group and is soon falsely accused of murdering an old sheepherder. The dead man, alas, is the father of Steele's girlfriend (Louise Lorraine) and the young cowboy is desperate to prove his innocence. While Bob Steele's career continued to rise in talkies, Louise Lorraine, the widow of silent Western star Art Acord, retired following this film. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Rider of the Law
An average entry in Bob Steele's Western series for Supreme Pictures, The Rider of the Law casts the diminutive star as Bob Marlow, an Arizona lawman trailing the six Tolliver brothers, a gang of outlaws engaged in blackmailing the local banker in Apache City. To get the goods on the brothers, Marlow disguises himself as a foppish Easterner, thus gaining access to the gang's mountain hideout. The shooting starts when Marlow's true identity is revealed. Former child star Gertrude Messinger plays the heroine and the six outlaws are portrayed by Earl Dwire, Chuck Baldra, Sherry Tansey, Tex Palmer, Steve Clark, and Jack Kirk, experienced blackguards all. Robert North Bradbury, Steele's real-life father, directs as usual. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Thunder in the Desert
Bantam-weight cowboy star Bob Steele stars in Thunder in the Desert. If you're familiar with Steele, you'll know that he was a star with but a single plot: A young man searches for the murderer of his father. This time, however, a few changes have been made. Now Bob is on the prowl for the murderer of his uncle. With the help of Louise Stanley, he corrals the killer and claims his inheritance. Produced independently by A. W. Hackel, Thunder in the Desert was released by Republic Pictures. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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