John Wayne in California Straight Ahead! (1937)


(director: Arthur Lubin; screenwriters: story by Herman Boxer/W. Scott Darling; cinematographer: Harry Neumann; editors: Charles Craft/Erma Horsley; music: ; cast: John Wayne (Biff Smith), Louise Latimer (Mary Porter), Robert McWade (Corrigan), Tully Marshall (Harrison), Grace Goodall (Mrs. Porter), Olaf Hytten (Huggins), Harry Allen (McCorkle), Emerson Treacy (Charlie Porter), Theodore von Eltz (Jim Gifford), LeRoy Mason (Padula); Runtime: 67; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Trem Carr; Universal Pictures; 1937)

Interesting to watch the young John Wayne in a B film not a Western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Interesting to watch the young John Wayne in a B film not a Western. Arthur Lubin (“Francis in the Navy”/”Star of India”/”Rhubarb”) adequately directs. It’s based on Herman Boxer’s story and is written by W. Scott Darling.

After fired as a bus driver Biff Smith (John Wayne) partners with his pal Charlie Porter (Emerson Treacy) to be in the trucking business. Biff romances Charlie’s cute sister Mary (Louise Latimer), but she jilts him when her brother dies in a truck explosion carrying nitro-glycerine. Mary blames the accident on the innocent Biff, and goes to work for Biff’s rival, the new railroad freight boss in Chicago, Jim Gifford (Theodore von Eltz). Biff soon partners with the fish trucker McCorkle (Harry Allen). The ambitious Biff then works for the trucking firm run by the high-strung Corrigan (Robert McWade). When the trucking firm competes with the railroad for making long hauls, Biff has a fleet of Corrigan’s trucks, without the knowledge of the boss, race Gifford’s railroad from Chicago to LA. The winner is to be rewarded with a million dollar contract to unload a boat waiting at the LA harbor. Biff also wins Mary back from Gifford, when she realizes Biff’s the man and Gifford’s an oily scoundrel.

Wayne is heroic, tender and appealing. He acts in a natural way, and stands head and shoulders above anyone else in the flick.


REVIEWED ON 11/14/2015 GRADE: B-