John Wayne, Chuck Baldra, Al Bridge, and Warner Richmond in The New Frontier (1935)


(director: Carl Pierson; screenwriter: Robert Emmett Tansey; cinematographer: Gus Peterson; editor: Gerald Roberts; cast: John Wayne (John Dawson), Sam Flint (Milt Dawson), Muriel Evans (Hanna Lewis), Murdock MacQuarrie (Tom Lewis), Alan Bridge (Kit), Warner P. Richmond (Ace Holmes), Allen Cavan (Minister Shaw ), Glenn Strange (Norton); Runtime: 54; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Malvern; Republic; 1935)

“A predictable but nevertheless fine action-packed oater.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The New Frontier is John Wayne’s second Western for Republic. It’s directed by Carl Pierson and written by Robert Emmett Tansey. Wayne plays trail herder John Dawson, a decent man who along with his dad Milt (Sam Flint) bring pioneers to the “Cherokee Strip” after the Act of Congress signed by President Benjamin Harrison in 1889 allows for settlement.

The pioneers find their small town lacking law and order due to the dance-halls run by the unscrupulous Ace Holmes (Warner P. Richmond). The leading citizens such as Tom Lewis (Murdock MacQuarrie) and the parson Shaw (Allen Craven) try to persuade Milt to become sheriff after four murders, but he refuses while saying as a private citizen he’ll try to reason with Ace. Milt’s shot in the back by Ace in the saloon while trying to reason with him. When John returns from leading a wagon train through hostile Indian territory, he learns from the leading citizens and his sweetie Hanna Lewis (Muriel Evans) of his father’s death and is sworn in as sheriff–not waiting for help from the cavalry as called for by the locals. Just before arriving John stopped his party from being robbed by a gang led by Kit (Alan Bridges). It turns out that Kit’s life was saved by John in the past and he owes him one.

The new sheriff orders Ace to close the saloon at six o’clock p.m. or he’ll arrest him. Ace thereby makes a deal with Norton’s gang to eliminate John. They send him a note to meet at Rainbow Falls to find out his dad’s killer. John gets out of the trap by sneaking up on the initial ambusher and has him take his place to meet the informer. The ambush-er is killed and John uses his cowboy roping skills to escape the pursuing Norton gang.

When John goes to the saloon to arrest Ace, he’s slugged from behind by the bartender but Kit comes along and pulls him out of that jam. This leads to the final nighttime shootout as Kit’s gang, who are deputized, help John in the shootout with Ace. They pin Ace down in his bar as Tom sets the joint on fire. Norton’s gang arrives carrying torches and the shootout resumes until John’s side overcomes all the villains and brings law and order to the town. The parson exclaims the hope that their community will now find peace and prays for a better future, while John and Hanna embrace each other.

A predictable but nevertheless fine action-packed oater. It was filmed at Lone Pine, California, and used stock footage from the Ken Maynard Westerns.