John Wayne, Ruth Hall, and Slim Whitaker in The Man from Monterey (1933)


(director: Mack Wright; screenwriter: Lesley Mason; cinematographer: Ted D. McCord; editor: William B. Clemens; music: Leo Forbstein; cast: John Wayne (Captain John Holmes), Ruth Hall (Dolores Castanares), Luis Alberni (Felipe Guadalupe Constacio Delgado Santa Cruz de la Verranca), Donald Reed (Don Luis Gonzales), Nena Quartero (Anita Garcia), Francis Ford (Don Pablo Gonzales), Lafe McKee (Don Jose Castanares), Lillian Leighton (Juanita), Slim Whitaker (Jake Morgan); Runtime: 56; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Leon Schlesinger; Warner Brothers; 1933)
“One of the lamest Westerns ever for John Wayne.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This B-Western set in Old California is one of the lamest Westerns ever for John Wayne; this swashbuckler actioner (there’s a ridiculous misplaced dueling scene) was Wayne’s last Western for Warners before moving on to better films. It had nothing going for it: The plot was unbearably dumb, the action scenes were risible in a cartoonish way, the comic attempts weren’t funny, the romance was tepid and the acting was as stiff as the seemingly uncomfortable fancy Mexican costumes worn by the gringo actors pretending to be Mexican cabelleros. This one wouldn’t have made the grade as a half-hour TV program.

It’s about the villainous Don Pablo Gonzales (Francis Ford) and his ambitious son Don Luis Gonzales (Donald Reed) trying to take over the rich ranch property of their fellow Mexican-American compatriot Don Jose Castanares (Lafe McKee) by misinforming him about the U.S. law to register all property received through a Spanish land-grant or else lose it to Public Domain. If it goes Public Domain the tricky Gonzales family plans to buy it for a song on the open market, and therefore advises the gullible Don Jose not to register. Because of reports of swindlers and unscrupulous real-estate speculators, Captain Holmes (John Wayne) is sent south by his superior in Monterey to help these ranchers register in the three days left before losing their properties.

On the way John hooks up with a guitar-playing fortune teller, Felipe Guadalupe Constacio Delgado Santa Cruz de la Verranca (Luis Alberni), who loves rattling off his long name when asked. He acts as comic relief and a loyal sidekick. John first goes to the home of Don Jose, the richest rancher who still hasn’t registered, with the hope that if he gets him to register the others will follow. Once there he immediately falls in love with his pretty daughter Dolores (Ruth Hall) and prevents her from marrying the villainous Don Luis.

Don Jose is kidnapped by the Gonzales clan as a last resort and they tell Dolores if she immediately marries Don Luis that her father will be returned. John joins forces with good ole American bandits, led by Jake Morgan, to save the ranch for Don Jose and trick Don Luis into marrying bar girl Anita–someone he had been secretly seeing.By the end of the day, John not only saves the ranch but wins the wealthy Dolores. The only thing the man from Monterey couldn’t do was make this one seem as if it were a genuine Western.