(director: Joe Kane; screenwriter: James Webb; cinematographer: William Nobles; editor: Les Orlebeck; music: Cy Feuer; cast: Roy Rogers (Jeff Connor), Gabby Hayes (Gabby Chapman), Sally Payne (Jo Morrison), George Cleveland (Hank Liddell), Billy Lee (Chick Morrison), Joseph Crehan (Mark Benton), Fred Kohler Jr.(Jim Trevor/Black Bart), Jack Ingram (Sheriff Pat Daley), Pierre Watkin (Amos Norton); Runtime: 53; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joe Kane; Mill Creek Entertainment; 1941)
“By cracky — an appealing Roy Rogers and Gabby Hayes western.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
By cracky — an appealing Roy Rogers and Gabby Hayes western. Joe Kane(“Ride the Man Down”/”Hoodlum Empire”/”The Sea Hornet”) directs with great skill for getting the most out of a B-film, while writer James Webb establishes a reasonably decent screenplay for such a routine tale.
In Nevada City, California, in the 1860s, hot-headed stagecoach line owner Hank Liddell (George Cleveland) without proof blames all the stage robberies and burnings on his new Central California railway rival, headed by Mark Benton (Joseph Crehan), whom he believes is trying to put him out of business. Stagecoach drivers Jeff Connor (Roy Rogers) and Gabby Chapman (Gabby Hayes) meet Benton by accident while racing his train and believe Benton is telling the truth that he did not hire the Black Bart (Fred Kohler Jr.) bandit to hold-up hisstagecoaches. When Roy tells that to Liddell, he’s fired. The teenage Jo (Sally Payne) and the adolescent Chick Morrison (Billy Lee), the children of Liddell’s deceased partner, are dismayed to find their protectors now working nearby for Benton’s railroad.
Jim Trevor is really Black Bart, and his m.o. is signing his name in a poetic note he leaves after each robbery. Black Bart is partners with the evil Amos Norton (Pierre Watkin), who runs the Sacramento River Navigation Company and whose aim is to ruin both Benton and Liddell so he can get the valued government contracts and take over running the railroad. Trevor visits Nevada City and falsely tells the gullible Liddell his freight business was ruined by Benton and he wants to get even with him. Trevor easily succeeds in entangling the cloudy thinking Liddell in a sabotage operation to ruin Benton. It’s up to Roy and Gabby to straighten things out and catch the bad guys, as Benton and Liddell, thanks to the meddling stagecoach drivers, patch up their misunderstanding and unite to foil the criminals from dynamiting the railroad tracks.
Film’s best dis has Gabby saying ‘Roy ain’t got the common sense of a blue-eyed mule.’
REVIEWED ON 9/4/2013 GRADE: B-