FIGHTING WESTERNER, THE (aka: ROCKY MOUNTAIN MYSTERY)
(director: Charles Barton; screenwriters: from a Zane Grey novel “Golden Dreams”/Ethel Doherty; cinematographer: Archie Stout; editor: Jack Dennis; music: Rudolph G. Kopp; cast: Randolph Scott (Larry Sutton), Charles ‘Chic’ Sale (Deputy ‘Tex’ Murdock), Leslie Carter (Mrs. Borg), Kathleen Burke (Flora Ballard), Ann Sheridan (Rita Ballard), George Marion Sr. (Adolph Borg, alias James Ballard), James C. Eagles (John Borg), Howard Wilson (Fritz Ballard), Willie Fung (Ling Yat), Florence Roberts (Mrs. Ballard); Runtime: 64; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harold Hurley; Paramount; 1935)
“Mighty routine oater, but well-acted.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A heroic Randolph Scott stars in this superior B western that’s based on Zane Grey’s “Golden Dreams.” The black-and-white filmed picture is a comic Western whodunit; it’s written with a flourish by Ethel Doherty and adequately directed by Charles Barton (“Nevada”/”Wagon Wheels”). It’s a remake of the silent film Golden Dreams (1922).
Set in a Nevada mining area in the mountains just after the First World War. Larry Sutton (Randolph Scott) is a mining engineer who takes the place of his mining engineer brother-in-law Jack Parsons who is accused of killing Adolph Borg, a partner in a radium mine with James Ballard. Parsons is supposedly on-the-run with the sheriff’s posse in pursuit. Deputy sheriff Tex Murdock (Charles ‘Chic’ Sale) is an geezer who was just appointed to his position, and is guarding Borg’s body. He hit it off with Larry, in father and son way, and they decide to team up to catch the killer or killers. Larry is positive that Parsons is innocent and probably was killed by the real killers. At the mine Larry finds that James Ballard (George Marion Sr.) is an invalid on his deathbed, who called for his heirs–his nephew Fritz Ballard (Howard Wilson) and his sister, the niece, Flora Ballard (Kathleen Burke) and his other niece, the spunky Rita Ballard (Ann Sheridan). Rita wants to buy a pineapple ranch in Hawaii, and Larry wants to be her partner. Larry becomes suspicious of the creepy housekeeper Mrs. Borg (Leslie Carter, famed Broadway star), the widow of the slain man, her creepy nurse son John (James C. Eagles), and the mysterious Chinese hired hand Ling Yat (Willie Fung). There are a number of murders, including one in which Fritz is crushed under the weight of the stamp mill (a huge apparatus used for pulverizing rock to unearth ore), and the chief suspect is a black caped mysterious horse rider who is seen in the shadows fleeing from each murder scene.
It takes Randolph Scott an hour to wrap up the case, that comes with a twist, romance Ann Sheridan, and get ‘Chic’ Sale appointed as the sheriff. Mighty routine oater, but well-acted. Charlie Chan couldn’t have done better.
REVIEWED ON 9/29/2006 GRADE: B