John Wayne, Ruth Hall, and Duke in Ride Him, Cowboy (1932)


(director: Fred Allen; screenwriters: based on a novel by Kenneth Perkins/Scott Mason; cinematographer: Ted D. McCord; editor: William B. Clemens; music: Bobby Heath; cast: John Wayne (John Drury), Ruth Hall (Ruth Gaunt), Henry B. Walthall (John Gaunt), Otis Harlan (Judge E. Clarence ‘Necktie’ Jones), Harry Gribbon (Deputy Sheriff Clout), Frank Hagney (Henry Sims/The Hawk), Charles Sellon (Judge Bartlett), Edmund Cobb (Bob Webb, injured Gaunt hand); Runtime: 55; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Leon Schlesinger; Warner Brothers; 1932)

“A must-see for John Wayne fans, as it’s where the cowboy star hooks up with his long-time favorite horse the Duke.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A solid rip-snorting B Western directed with verve by Fred Allen, that pokes fun at frontier justice. This remake of the Ken Maynard silent the 1926 “The Unknown Cavalier” is a must-see for John Wayne fans, as it’s where the cowboy star hooks up with his long-time favorite horse the Duke. This was the first of Wayne’s six-film series for Warner Brothers. It’s based on a novel by Kenneth Perkins and scripted by Scott Mason.

John Drury (John Wayne) is a strapping handsome stranger from Texas who saves the life of a horse on trial by telling the judge (Charles Sellon) at this ridiculously conceived but highly enjoyable open street trial in front of the court building that the horse can be ridden and he’s willing to do it. Leading citizen Henry Sims (Frank Hagney) has brought charges against the horse as being a danger to the community after a cowpuncher at the Gaunt’s ranch, Bob Webb, was knocked unconscious supposedly by the spirited horse owned by John Gaunt and his perky grand-daughter Ruth Gaunt (Ruth Hall). The horse has taken a serious dislike to Sims and raises himself up in the air poised to stomp on him every time he comes close, but reacts peacefully in the presence of Ruth. Drury, given the chance to ride him, successfully tames the bucking horse and is given the steed by the grateful Ruth. Her granddaddy invites the horse lover to a citizen’s vigilante committee, where he volunteers to go out alone in the prairie to look for the ruthless Hawk who has been raiding all the ranches in the territory and has already killed Ruth’s father. Sims volunteers to take him to the territory that the Hawk operates in, and when in the desert confronts him as the Hawk and ties both him and the Duke to separate trees and steals his initialed mouth organ. That night the Hawk raids the Gordon ranch, burning their barn down, killing their son and robbing them. By placing Drury’s mouth organ at the crime scene, the posse believes Drury is the Hawk. When Drury with Duke’s help frees himself and rides to tell the sheriff who the Hawk is, he’s not believed and brought to the desolate Tequila bar to be tried by the crotchety inept Judge Jones (Otis Harlan). On the verge of being lynched, Bob Webb regains consciousness and tells Ruth that it wasn’t the Duke who knocked him out but Sims. It now builds to a rousing finish typical for this sort of oater.