John Wayne and George 'Gabby' Hayes in The Man from Utah (1934)


(director: Robert Bradbury; screenwriter: story by Lindsley Parsons/Lindsley Parsons; cinematographer: Archie Stout; editor: Carl Pierson; music: Lee Zahler; cast: John Wayne (John Weston), Polly Ann Young (Marjorie Carter), Anita Campillo (Dolores), George ‘Gabby’ Hayes (Marshal George Higgins), Yakima Canutt (Cheyenne Kent), Ed Peil (Spike Barton), George Cleveland (Sheriff), Lafe McKee (Judge Carter); Runtime: 52; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Malvern; Foothill Video; 1934)
“Should satisfy those in search of an old-fashioned John Wayne Western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A lively B Western with cheap production values that is directed by Robert Bradbury and is based on a story by Lindsley Parsons. John Weston (John Wayne) is a happy-go-lucky cowboy singing and playing a guitar while riding on the trail, but he’s flat broke. When in town, there’s a bank holdup and John stops the robbery by plugging the gang. This impresses Marshal George Higgins (George ‘Gabby’ Hayes) so much that he hires John as a deputy and assigns him to work undercover at the Dalton Valley Rodeo to investigate a ruthless gang of rodeo thieves, who have been killing their competition in order to win. On the way to the rodeo, John spots a four-man gang trying to rob the stagecoach and rides up behind them and then tackles them while jumping from his horse to theirs. The passengers on the stagecoach are Dolores (Anita Campillo), a Spanish senorita who is a member of the rodeo gang headed by Spike Barton (Ed Peil), and the pretty Marjorie Carter (Polly Ann Young) who is the daughter of Judge Carter (Lafe McKee).

During the rodeo, with the marshal staying in the background, John wins all his events and then is offered a gang membership if he lets gang member Cheyene Kent (Yakima Canutt) win. When John double-crosses the gang, they put a poisoned needle in the bronco he’s riding, but he removes it and wins the event. The gang then dumps Dolores and robs the bank that is holding $30,000 in rodeo receipts, but the jilted gang member tips John off about the robbery and he captures them all. As a reward he gets to marry the judge’s daughter, but the marshal loses a deputy.

There are plenty of side events to keep the viewer entertained such as whirling ropes, Indians dancing in feathery costumes, using the rodeo as background, plenty of scenes of Wayne (with Canutt as stuntman) jumping from a galloping horse to tackle the other rider, and George Hayes’s use of colorful folksy language such as “young whippersnapper.” It’s admittedly a bit simplistic, but should satisfy those in search of an old-fashioned John Wayne Western.