John Wayne and Cecilia Parker in Riders of Destiny (1933)


(director/writer: Robert N. Bradbury; cinematographer: Archie Stout; editor: Carl Pierson; music: William Barber; cast: John Wayne (Singin’ Sandy Saunders), Cecilia Parker (Fay Denton), Forrest Taylor (James Kincaid), George Hayes (Charlie Denton), Al St. John (Henchman Bert), Heinie Conklin (Stage Driver Elmer), Yakima Canutt (Henchman), Earl Dwire (Slip Morgan), Lafe McKee (Sheriff Bill Baxter); Runtime: 58; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Malvern; Columbia TriStar Home Video; 1933)

“Looks glossy for a production that was only budgeted for $10,000.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In this cheapie Monogram, the first of 16 films John Wayne made for the studio, Wayne plays Singin’ Sandy Saunders, a Secret Service agent investigating on the secret criminal activity in Lost Creek lodged by the farmers that Kincaid and his gang are driving them off their ranches by controlling the water rights in the valley. The oater is written and directed by Robert N. Bradbury–the father of Wayne’s boyhood friend Bob Steele.

When Fay Denton tries to rob the stage she is shot off her horse by bumbling stagecoach drivers Bert and Elmer, and Saunders helps her escape. At her father Charlie’s house, Saunders learns how they are being forced off their land by Kincaid. Charlie’s place has a valuable well that allows him to survive while the other ranchers have to pay an excessive water tax to Kincaid, therefore Kincaid has his gang holdup the stage whenever a letter addressed to Charlie is aboard knowing that letter contains money from Charlie’s partner in a mine that gives him his major income. Fay just tried to get her letter before is was stolen in a phony holdup.

When Saunders appears to be on the side of the Dentons, Kincaid hires gunman Slip Morgan (Earl Dwire) to take care of him. But Saunders shoots him in both wrists so he can’t ever use a gun again. Then Kincaid hires him, but Saunders tricks him by getting him to dynamite Charlie’s well. That causes water to run through the entire valley and dry up the villain’s dam, virtually putting him out of business.

The film is known for Wayne asked to warble a tune before each gunfight (his voice supposedly dubbed by Smith Ballew, was in actuality dubbed by Bill Bradbury, the son of the film’s director). There was also the conventional genre’s fight scene, where stuntman Yakima Canutt makes it look more realistic than previous fights. It looks glossy for a production that was only budgeted for $10,000.


REVIEWED ON 10/12/2005 GRADE: C+