FRONTIER PONY EXPRESS (director: Joe Kane; screenwriter: Norman S. Hall; cinematographer: William Nobles; editor: Gene Milford; cast: Roy Rogers (Himself), Mary Hart (Ann Langhorne), Don Dillaway (Brett Langhorne), Raymond Hatton (Horseshoe), Edward Keane (Senator Calhoun Lassiter), Noble Johnson (Luke Johnson), Ethel Wales (Mrs. Murphy), William Royale (Dan Garrett), Matty Roubert (Logan, Pony Express rider), Monte Blue (Cherokee), Fred Burns (Marshal in St. Joe); Runtime: 53; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joe Kane; Mill Creek Entertainment; 1939)
“Action-packed B-western that’s filled with political intrigue.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Joe Kane(“Brimstone”/”Sea of Lost Ships”/”Hoodlum Empire”) satisfactorily directs this action-packed B-western that’s filled with political intrigue. The screenplay is by Norman S. Hall. It’s set during the Civil War in the northern California town of St. Joe, where there’s sympathizers for both the North and the South as California remains neutral. Roy Rogers is the record-setting Pony Express rider, who partners with Horseshoe (Ray Hatton). They work for Dan Garrett (William Royale), and carry gold shipments and valuable dispatches from the Union army.
Brett Langhorne (Don Dillaway), a newspaper crossword puzzle writer from Maryland, is the new owner of the local newspaper. When Brett’s sister Ann (Mary Hart) arrives by stagecoach with Maryland’s oily ex-senator Lassiter (Edward Keane), who tells Brett, a former Rebel officer, his group of Confederate loyalists bought the paper for him so it can advocate the South’s cause, cause a division between both sides and hide behind the paper to sabotage the Union efforts in California.
Duped into helping the Senator for the cause, Brett is dismayed by Lassiter using Luke Johnson’s (Noble Johnson) ruthless gang of robbers to conduct raids on the town, on the stagecoach and steal dispatches from the Pony Express. Lassiter expresses no regrets after Luke robs the stagecoach of gold to keep for himself and is not arrested though everyone knows he did the crime. Brett reluctantly goes along with this scheme, until he learns the ex-senator businessman is a megalomaniac who plans on double-crossing the Confederacy and obtaining for himself California as a republic and has hired the mercenary Johnson gang to do his dirty work of stealing the Union gold vouchers. It’s up to Roy and his horse Trigger to be heroes and straighten things out.
For added flavor Roy sings “My Old Kentucky Home” in its full-verse, showing how racist was the original song.
REVIEWED ON 9/7/2013 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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