THE GAMBLING TERROR
(director/writer: Sam Newfield; screenwriter: story by George H. Plympton & Fred Myton/Fred Myton; cinematographer: Roy Claire; editor: Bert Longenecker; cast: Johnny Mack Brown (Jeff Hayes), Iris Meredith (Betty Garret), Bobby Nelson (Jerry Garrett), Frank Ball (Garret, editor), Ted Adams (Sheriff), Earl Dwire (Bradley), Charles King (Brett), Frank Ellis (Blackie), Dick Curtis (Dirk), Horace Murphy (Printer), Steve Clark (Mac McClure the Bar Owner); Runtime: 53; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: A. W. Hacknel; Mill Creek Entertainment; 1937)
“It works only because Johnny Mack Brown makes it work.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Hack filmmaker Sam Newfield (“Knight of the Plains”/”The Good Fathers”/”Frontier Outlaws”) haphazardly directs this routine B-western. It’s based on a story by George H. Plympton & Fred Myton. It works only because Johnny Mack Brown makes it work.
When a western town is terrorized by racketeers running a Mafia-like protection racket and making ranchers and businesses pay them for protection or else, the sheriff sends for Jeff Hayes (Johnny Mack Brown) and they scheme to find out the unknown leader by having Jeff pose as a saloon gambling operator in the back of McClure’s (Steve Clark) saloon. Under the orders of Brett (Charles King), the thugs Blackie (Frank Ellis) and Dirk (Dick Curtis) try to collect from Jeff. But Jeff throws them out of the saloon. Meanwhile the crusading editor of the local newspaper, Garret (Frank Ball), organizes the community to fight back. But he gets shot for his efforts, at a meeting he holds for the concerned citizens who want to stop the racketeers. So his feisty daughter Betty (Iris Meredith), angered her father is wounded, forms a vigilante patrol to hunt down and hang the thug collectors. But when her kid brother Jerry (Bobby Nelson) is taken captive in the gang’s cave hideout, it’s up to Jeff, who finagled his way into joining the gang, to capture the gang leader before harm comes to the kid. It turns out that the unknown gang leader is the respectable town leader Bradley (Earl Dwire). Jeff, besides taking care of Bradley, also rescues Jerry, while the sheriff and his posse arrest the rest of the gang at a ranch they’re raiding based on a tip from Jeff.
Though lacking imagination in story and direction, Johnny Mack Brown plays the hero part as well as can be expected and makes things enjoyable for those fans of the old-fashioned no-frills Western.
REVIEWED ON 8/26/2013 GRADE: B-