(director: Yakima Canutt; screenwriter: Robert Creighton Williams; cinematographer: John MacBurnie; editor: Arthur Roberts; music: Mort Glickman; cast: Allan ‘Rocky’ Lane (‘Rocky’ Lane), Eddy Waller (Nugget Clark), Mildred Coles (Leslie Rawlins), Roy Barcroft (Sanders), Gene Stutenroth (Oliver Budge), Earle Hodgins (Jonathan Walpole), Dale Van Sickel (Sharkey), Jay Kirby (Ken Rawlins), Claire Whitney (Agatha Scragg), Terry Frost (Sheriff), Hank Patterson (Fred); Runtime: 59; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Gordon Kay; Republic; 1948)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A rollicking fast-paced action-packed routine B Western directed by Yakima Canutt, who has been in many John Wayne films and is a noted stunt coordinator. If you relish classic fights on top of moving stagecoaches and ambush shootouts, this film superbly delivers those kind of thrills. Its written by Robert Creighton Williams in the style fitting such an action Western.
Rancher Ken Rawlins’s father has just been murdered by rustlers, and Ken is soon lured into a fistfight by his hostile ranch cowhand Sharkey (Dale Van Sickel, stuntman pal of the director) over back pay and then is murdered by hired gunslinger Sanders (Roy Barcroft) who shoots him from his hiding place behind the rocks. Both bandits are working for the evil newspaper editor of Grass Valley– Oliver Budge (Gene Stutenroth). He holds a note on the Rawlins ranch and hopes to increase his wealth by taking over the ranch by rustling the Rawlins’ cattle and making him go broke so he could take over the spread for nonpayment. Oliver schemes that when he owns the ranch he can control the valley pass and then initiate a fee that other ranches would have to pay in order to go on their cattle drives.
Before Ken was killed he had his loyal but not too swift foreman Nugget (Eddy Waller) go into town and telegraph for his childhood friend Rocky Lane to come to the ranch and help get the killers and rustlers. When Ken is found dead, Nugget notifies the next of kin, a second cousin from St. Louis that never met Ken named Leslie Rawlins (Mildred Coles), of inheriting the ranch. Nugget doesn’t realize Leslie is a she, and, since he can never keep a secret, he blabs the secret visit to newspaperman Oliver. The editor sends gunman Sanders and his gang to meet the stage and kill Leslie, but they aim to kill the only male on the stage not realizing Leslie’s gender. But Rocky happens to be riding along on his horse Black Jack and foils the murder attempt. Sensing Leslie is in danger, he has her pose as the accompanying housekeeper Agatha Scragg, who heads back to St. Louis, while he poses as Leslie. Then Rocky smokes out the villains and gets into enough fights with them to keep things lively.
REVIEWED ON 7/13/2005 GRADE: B-