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DAWN RIDER, THE (director/writer: R. N. Bradbury; screenwriter: story by Lloyd Nosler; cinematographer: Archie Stout; editor: Carl Pierson; cast: John Wayne (John Mason), Marion Burns (Alice Gordon), Denny Meadows (Rudd Gordon), Reed Howes (Ben McClure), Joe DeGrasse (Dad Mason), Yakima Canutt (Saloon Owner), Earl Dwire (Pete, Expressman), Nelson McDowell (Bates, Undertaker), Fred Parker (Doctor); Runtime: 56; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Malvern; Good Times Home Videos; 1935)
“Mediocre even for a cheapie B Western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Mediocre even for a cheapie B Western; it lacks even satisfactory production values. The Dawn Rider is a remake of the 1931’s “Galloping Thru,” an equally stellar oater! It stars a young John Wayne at a time when he was learning how to act. The film, directed and written by R. N. Bradbury, is based on the story by Lloyd Nosler.

The film opens as stranger John Mason (John Wayne) comes into the unnamed dusty town and is drawn into a street fight by wise guy Ben McClure (Reed Howes). John gives Ben a good thumping before an appreciative audience of cowhands and afterwards the two retreat into the saloon for drinks with a new respect for each other. It turns out Ben works as a stagecoach driver for John’s father. The two go visit Dad Mason in his express office and walk in as a robbery is taking place. Dad Mason is senselessly gunned down by the gang of bandits. Before dying he tells his son that the man who shot him was wearing a polka dot scarf, and John vows to dedicate himself to getting the killer. John gives chase after the bandits and guns down two of them, but they put two slugs in him. Ben takes his new pal to his pretty girlfriend Alice’s house, who nurses him back to health after the doctor removes the bullets. Alice’s brother Rudd (Denny Meadows) visits and is wearing a polka dot scarf. John recovers and moves back with Ben. The stage is held up by Rudd’s gang, whose leader is a nasty talking saloon owner (Yakima Canutt). Ben is robbed of the engagement ring he sent away for in a newspaper ad. Rudd stirs him up that John is chasing after his sis. John takes a covered wagon of gold with stagecoach driver Pete and gets jumped by Rudd’s gang. The gang is stopped but for Rudd, who rushes back to Alice’s ranch with John in pursuit. Ben approaches the ranch and from a distance sees Alice clutching onto John and is overcome with jealousy. John has no time to explain and will arrange for a showdown with Rudd. In the end, John brings the bandits to justice and gets to marry his nursemaid.

This seems to be a town with no sheriff, only an undertaker anxious for business and a friendly country doctor.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”