(director: Robert North Bradbury; screenwriter: Lindsley Parsons; cinematographer: Louis Clyde Stouman; editor: Carl Pierson; cast: John Wayne (John Middleton, aka John Allen), Sheila Mannors (Ann Mason ), Frank McGlynn Jr. (Frank Carter, banker, aka Butch Martin), Jack Curtis (Marshal), Wally Howe (Uncle Hank Mason), Julia Griffin (Aunt Marie Mason), Yakima Canutt (Joe Burns, chief Carter henchman), Earl Dwire (Emmett,storekeeper), Jack Curtis (Marshal), Charles “Slim” Whitaker (Henchman); Runtime: 56; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Malvern; Republic; 1935)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
John Middleton’s dad receives a letter from his oldest friend Hank Mason asking for help and he asks his rodeo rider son (John Wayne) to ride over to the Pequeno Valley to check it out. John is arrested by the sheriff there over a minor incident, but is released and hired as an undercover star-packer with the alias John Allen. The idea is to get Wayne to infiltrate the Butch Martin gang who are leading a reign of terror in Pequeno Valley and to find out the reason why. Soon Wayne hooks up with Hank’s pretty niece Ann Mason (Sheila Mannors) and learns her uncle mysteriously disappeared three weeks ago after speaking to banker Frank Carter (Frank McGlynn Jr.). The banker holds all the mortgages to the ranches and threatens foreclosure unless the mortgages are paid soon. The ranchers are also being starved out, as storekeeper Emmett says every time he tries to bring in provisions bandits belonging to Butch Martin’s gang are informed and attack the wagons. Wayne soon uncovers that Joe Burns (Yakima Canutt) is the chief henchman of Martin’s gang, and lays a trap for him, and is therefore able to bring in the provisions. The ranchers now trust Wayne to lead a cattle drive to give them money to pay off their mortgages. Carter, who we now learn is the crooked banker and is aka Butch Martin, receives a wanted poster in the mail for Wayne but through information provided by Burns, realizes he’s really an undercover lawman. The baddies lure Wayne to their cave hideout and tie him up, and toss him in a room with Hank Mason. The old-timer reveals there’s gold on everyone’s property, which is the reason Carter tortured him to sign away the deed to his ranch. The two escape and with the help of the sheriff and all the ranchers they capture all the baddies before they can attack the ranchers on their cattle drive.
This ordinary B Western is directed by Robert North Bradbury and written by Lindsley Parsons. It was released by Republic but actually made by the cheesy Monogram studio, which explains its low production values. It was Wayne’s fourth film for Republic. Wayne performs as a singing cowboy (baritone voice dubbed by Jack Kirk) and belts out a couple of tunes that includes “On the Banks of the Sunny San Juan.”
REVIEWED ON 9/3/2005 GRADE: C