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Monogram Cowboy Collection, Vol. 2 [3 Discs] [DVD]

Warner Brothers helped define and continue the tradition of the B-budget western in the 1950s, with its Monogram imprint. This box set caters to fans of the @Monogram label, with eight of its feature-length westerns, produced in 1951 and '52. Titles include: Fort Osage, Stage to Blue River, Montana Incident, Wyoming Roundup, Night Raiders, The Gunman, Canyon Raiders and Wagons West.

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    Fort Osage
    Lesley Selander took time off from his directorial duties on Tim Holt's RKO western series to helm the Monogram oater Fort Osage. Rod Cameron stars as frontier scout Tim Clay, assigned to guide a wagon train through Indian territory. Clay knows that he's in for a lot of trouble because of the treaty-violating activities of white criminals Pickett (Morris Ankrum) and Keane (Douglas Kennedy). Fortunately for the hero, Pickett and Keane double-cross each other somewhere along the line, weakening their ability to foment an all-out Indian attack. Jane Nigh co-stars as the in-the-dark daughter of one of the villains. Fort Osage was produced by Walter Mirisch, who later graduated to such big-budgeters as West Side Story and The Great Escape. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Canyon Raiders
    Whip Wilson only gets to crack his trademark weapon once in this economic Western filmed in toto at the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, CA. A government agent, Wilson arrives in the near ghost town of Tunis, where his friend (Jim Bannon) is in trouble with a couple of horse thieves. The latter are also terrorizing a homesteader, Texas Milburn (Fuzzy Knight), and his wife, Ruth (Barbara Woodell), and when the female sheriff Alice Long (Phyllis Coates) interferes, she finds herself taken hostage. Using a bit of trickery, Wilson, Bannon, and Texas manage to outwit the gang and arrest their leader, Sam Wellman (I. Stanford Jolley). ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    Montana Incident
    Night Raiders
    Cowboy star Whip Wilson keeps whipping along in Monogram's Night Raiders. This time, Wilson and saddle pal Tom Farrell are federal marshals, assigned to stop the activities of a nocturnal terrorist group. These so-called Night Raiders lay waste to local ranches, but curiously never steal anything. The trail of clues leads to a motivation (fixing an upcoming election) and, inevitably, a Least Likely Suspect who turns out to be the brains of the organization. Fuzzy Knight supplies laughs, while Terry Frost and Marshall Reed provide menace. Whip Wilson's Night Raiders co-star Tom Farrell was the son of actress Glenda Farrell. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Wagons West
    Rod Cameron's western vehicles for Monogram were always worth watching, even when Cameron was better than the scripts. In Wagons West, the star plays wagonmaster Jeff Curtis, who guides a group of Easterners to California in the 1870s. Trouble looms in the form of a Cheyenne tribe who is being supplied with weapons by a treacherous white man. Even more trouble comes Curtis' way when he discovers that the gun-runner is a member of his own wagon train. Well-photographed in two-color Cinecolor, Wagons West boasts an above-average supporting cast, ranging from bucolic Noah Beery Jr. to steely-eyed Henry Brandon. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Stage to Blue River
    A stage line is once again threatened by a greedy rival in this ultra low-budget western from small-scale Monogram Pictures. This time the owner is lovely Phyllis Coates, who desperately needs to win a valuable mail contract in order to survive. The rival appears at first to be none other than the local sheriff (Pierce Lyden), but he is actually in the employ of a mystery man. Enter the whip-wielding Whip Wilson and his faithful sidekick Fuzzy Knight, and Miss Coates' stagecoach is saved in no time. In fairness to the age-old plot, here credited to former serial writer Joseph F. Poland, we shall not reveal the identity of the mystery villain; suffice it to say, the blackguard turns out to be the least likely candidate and is therefore highly suspicious from the get-go. Stage to Blue River was filmed many times before, most recently as Stage to Mesa City (1948), a "Cheyenne Kid" series entry featuring Al "Lash" LaRue and Al "Fuzzy" St. John. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    The Gunman
    The West is scared by an infamous gunslinger in this western film. ~ Jeaniff Dorset, Rovi

    Wyoming Roundup
    Whip Wilson and Tommy Farrell star in this Western as a pair of cowboys who are new in town. When they break up a brawl in the neighborhood saloon, they're made town marshals, but they have little time to bask in their glory before they have to help settle a range war between a group of ranchers. While most folks in town think Terry Howard (Phyllis Coates) is the one who has been causing all the problems, Whip has a hunch someone else is to blame. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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