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Monogram Cowboy Collection, Vol. 3: Johnny Mack Brown [3 Discs] [DVD]

This box set caters to fans of classic Monogram Studios B-grade westerns, with nine of its titles presented back-to-back, all starring Johnny Mack Brown. Contents include: The Ghost Rider, The Stranger from Pecos, Six Gun Gospel, Outlaws of Stampede Pass, Range Law, The Navajo Trail, Flame of the West, Shadows on the Range and Law of the Panhandle.

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    Range Law
    Range Law stars Johnny Mack Brown as "Nevada" and Raymond Hatton as "Sandy", the same characters they played in most of their mid-1940s Monogram westerns. This time, Nevada and Sandy, US marshals both, set out to collar some renegades who've been driving out the local ranchers. It's just possible that one of said ranchers is behind this land-grabbing scheme. The motive: the land is rich with silver. The formidable bad-guy lineup includes Jack Ingram, Stanley Price, and Lynton Brent. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Shadows on the Range
    Johnny Mack Brown stars in the formula oater Shadows on the Range. The film was made at a time when Monogram was experimenting with the notion of passing Brown off as a singing cowboy. While his voice is dubbed, he's definitely handling all the action sequences himself, and that's what the fans really wanted. Brown's usual cohort Raymond Hatton is on hand, as ever. Shadows on the Range is not the best of the Monogram Johnny Mack Browns, but it's also far from the worst. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Law of the Panhandle
    Johnny Mack Brown follows his tried-and-true western formula in Law of the Panhandle. This time, U.S. Marshal Brown backs up Sheriff Tom Stocker (Riley Hill) in an ongoing battle against a marauding outlaw gang. The thieves, led by snarling Henry Faulkner (Myron Healey), hope to scare all the local ranchers off the land that will soon be purchased by the railroad that's coming through the territory. The film's parade of cliches is stemmed by a truly innovative finale. Once more, Johnny Mack Brown leaves the film's romantic angle to the younger Riley Hill, whose vis-a-vis is played by Jane Adams. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Six Gun Gospel
    U.S. Marshal Johnny Mack Brown once again goes undercover in this Nevada Mckenzie series entry from Great Westerns Prod./Monogram. Masquerading as a parson and a drifter, Sandy Hopkins (Raymond Hatton) and Nevada Jack McKenzie (Mack Brown) come to the aid of the beleaguered residents of Goldville, a small ranching community being terrorized by greedy saloon keeper Ace Benton (Kenneth MacDonald) and his gang of cutthroats. Unbeknownst to the citizenry, the railroad is planning to build tracks through town and Benton is attempting to secure the land by scaring off the settlers. Caught by the gang, Nevada manages to talk his way out by pretending to be an outlaw himself. Benton quickly becomes suspicious, but is eventually felled by his own greed. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    The Stranger from Pecos
    Though it wasn't the first of the batch, The Stranger from Pecos would have been an excellent starting point for Johnny Mack Brown's Monogram western series. Containing a great deal more excitement than the official first entry (The Ghost Rider), the film casts Brown as Nevada, a US marshal assigned to squelch a crooked land-grab. Unfortunately, the head villain as the corrupt local sheriff in his pocket, which stymies Nevada's efforts during the first 4 reels. But justice prevails during the final 2 reels, as Johnny Mack Brown fans knew it would. The romantic subplot is handled by a pair of pop-culture icons: Kirby Grant, star of TV's Sky King, and Christine McIntyre, leading lady of many a 3 Stooges short. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Outlaws of Stampede Pass
    Johnny Mack Brown heads the cast of Monogram's Outlaws of Stampede Pass. Per the title, the film concerns a western community held in the grip of a gang of desperadoes. Brown and his dusty sidekick Raymond Hatton set about to round up the bad guys. We know what's going to happen, but as always, Johnny brings a sense of freshness and spontaneity to the proceedings. Outlaws of Stampede Pass was adapted from a story by Johnston McCulley, of "Zorro" fame. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Ghost Rider
    In his first of 20 "Nevada McKenzie" Westerns for Monogram Pictures, brawny Johnny Mack Brown plays the title role, a drifter happening upon the dying owner of a local abattoir (Jack Daley). The latter, with his dying breath, warns our hero about Lash Edwards (Harry Woods, a cattle rustler turned empire builder who is terrorizing the local businessmen. Using the assumed name of Jack Mckenzie, Nevada, aka The Ghost Rider, befriends the dead man's son (Tom Seidel), hoping through him to get the goods on Edwards, whom he suspects of having murdered his own parents. Working alternately with and against Nevada is Sandy Hopkins (Raymond Hatton), an undercover U.S. marshal. Although Nevada refuses Sandy's offer to join the marshals in the last scene of The Ghost Rider, insisting on "carrying out his crusade alone," the two are both lawmen when reunited for the second film in the series, The Stranger from Pecos (1943). ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

    Flame of the West
    Flame of the West has always attracted more attention than most of Johnny Mack Brown's Monogram westerns, if for no other reason than the offbeat casting of Douglass Dumbrille. Usually seen in villainous roles, Dumbrille herein offers a sincere, effective performance as a scrupulously honest US marshal named Nightlander. When he takes on a gang of crooked gamblers, Nightlander is shot down in cold blood, compelling frontier doctor John Poore (Johnny Mack Brown) to put his Hippocratic oath on the back burner and strap on the shootin' irons. Raymond Hatton contributes his usual grizzled comedy relief in Flame of the West, while Joan Woodbury is interestingly cast as a saloon-hall girl without a heart of gold. Flame of the West works so well on a dramatic level that the musical interludes of Pee Wee King seem downright intrusive. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    The Navajo Trail
    Johnny Mack Brown and Raymond Hatton once again play undercover U.S. marshals Nevada McKenzie and Sandy Hopkins. This time, Sandy's sergeant, Trevor (Jasper L. Palmer), is shot in the back by Slim Ramsey (Raphael Bennett), an outlaw he had been tracking. Masquerading as a desperado himself, Nevada manages to infiltrate Ramsey's gang and learn the identity of its leader, a villain named Farr (Edmund Cobb). Sandy, meanwhile, pretends to be an Indian trader and the undercover agents are helped in their investigation by Tober (Tom Quinn), a defecting gang member. The latter is being questioned by Paul (Riley Hill) and the murdered sergeant's pretty daughter, Mary (Jennifer Holt), when their cabin comes under attack from Farr and his henchmen. Happily, Nevada and Sandy arrive just in time to prevent a massacre. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

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