John Wayne in The Lawless Frontier (1934)


(director/writer: Robert North Bradbury; screenwriter: story by Robert North Bradbury; cinematographer: Archie Stout; editor: Carl Pierson; music: Sam Perry; cast: John Wayne (John Tobin), Sheila Terry (Ruby), Jack Rockwell (Sheriff Luke Williams), George Hayes (Dusty), Jay Wilsey (Buffalo Bill Jr.), Yakima Canutt (Joe, Zanti’s Henchman), Earl Dwire (Pandro Zanti, alias Don Yorba), Lloyd Whitlock (Zanti outlaw); Runtime: 53; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Malvern; Monogram; 1934)
“An early John Wayne Western from Monogram.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An early John Wayne Western from Monogram. The routine oater is directed and written by Robert North Bradbury. John Wayne plays John Tobin, who is on the trail of those who killed his parents. Along the way, John rescues old-timer prospector Dusty (George Hayes) and his pretty young granddaughter Ruby (Sheila Terry) from the killer, a half-breed (half white and Apache) posing as a Mexican bandit Pandro Zanti (Earl Dwire). The “grinning lizard” rustler and killer planned to abduct Ruby and kill Dusty and would have gotten away with that plan but for John riding to their aid with a daring rescue (stunts provided by Yakima Canutt). When John takes Zanti prisoner, the bumbling sheriff (Jack Rockwell) suspects John of being a gang member. After an attempt on Dusty’s life, John is accused of the crime. But Dusty’s very much alive, as he hides in a secret mine entrance attached to his shack. Zanti has slipped out of his shackles and escapes from the shack before the sheriff returns from town with his posse.

When the handcuffed John is freed by Dusty, he tracks the fleeing Zanti into the desert where the outlaw finds his Maker after drinking poisoned water from a mud hole. With the gang boss dead, John hunts down the remaining six gang members and traps them in Dusty’s mine. It ends with John marrying Ruby and becoming the new sheriff.

Judged by the standards of B-westerns, this one is average.