John Wayne and Eddie Parker in The Lucky Texan (1934)


(director/writer: Robert N. Bradbury; screenwriter: from a story by Robert N. Bradbury; cinematographer: Archie Stout; editor: Carl Pierson; cast: John Wayne (Jerry Mason), Barbara Sheldon (Betty Benson), Lloyd Whitlock (Harris), George ‘Gabby’ Hayes (Jake ‘Grandy’ Benson), Yakima Canutt (Joe Cole), Ed Parker (Al Miller, sheriff’s son), Gordon Demaine (Banker Williams), Earl Dwire (Sheriff Miller); Runtime: 55; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Malvern; Foothil Video; 1934)
“A minor Western that’s easy to take.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A lively B Western as directed and written by Robert N. Bradbury, that’s based on his story. Two-fisted stud Jerry Mason (John Wayne) returns to Texas from attending college back east to become partners in a blacksmith business with his deceased father’s old pardner Jake Benson (George ‘Gabby’ Hayes). While sitting around the blacksmith shop the town mutt unearths a gold nugget that was removed by Jake from a prospector’s horse while he was being shod. The two go to the creek where the prospector was mining and discover gold. The partners bring the gold to two crooked assayers, Harris (Lloyd Whitlock) and Joe Cole (Yakima Canutt), who try unsuccessfully to get them to reveal where their secret mine is. When that doesn’t work they trick Jake into signing away the deed to his ranch. Then they follow Jake to the creek, but when they can’t get him to reveal its location they plug him and leave him for dead. Meanwhile Jerry was showing Jake’s newly arrived grand-daughter Betty (Barbara Sheldon), who was away in college back east, around town and when Jake’s horse and mule pack return followed by the dog, Jerry follows the dog to the spot where the wounded Jake is lying. Jerry hustles Jake back to the ranch and warns him not to tell anyone he’s alive. When Jerry goes into town to file a claim on his gold mine, the assayers frame him for the murder of Jake. The not-too-bright sheriff holds Jerry in jail till the preliminary hearing the next morning. When Betty visits Jerry in jail, he tells her to get Jake to go to the courtroom in the morning undetected. In court, Jake appears in drag and points out his would-be killers. It leads to a finale chase on horseback, in a gasoline-powered railroad handcar and in a model-T Ford, with Gabby Hayes adorned in his underwear.

This was the first time Gabby played the comic sidekick role that was to be his signature role for the next twenty odd years. It also featured Wayne missing in an attempt to jump from his horse and wrestle another rider to the ground; the stunt was pulled off by Canutt. In the finale chase Canutt also doubles for Wayne and Hayes, and is actually chasing himself. For comedy, Wayne is befuddled by a piece of ladies underwear he finds in Gabby’s dressing room. It results in a minor Western that’s easy to take.