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SAGEBRUSH TRAIL (director: Armand Schaefer; screenwriters: story by Will Beale & Lindsley Parsons; cinematographer: Archie Stout; editor: Carl Pierson; cast: John Wayne (John Brant, alias John Smith), Nancy Shubert (Sally Blake), Lane Chandler (Joseph Conlon, alias Bob Jones), Yakima Canutt (Ed Walsh, Outlaw Gang Leader), Henry Hall (Dad Blake), Bob Burns (Sheriff Parker), William Dyer (Blind Pete); Runtime: 58; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Malvern; Monogram; 1933)
“Undistinguished early John Wayne B Western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Undistinguished early John Wayne B Western. It’s the Duke’s second film for Lone Star Productions. It’s directed in an affected way by Armand Schaefer (soon to become a producer, something he’s more suited for) from a story by Will Beale (uncredited) and Lindsley Parsons.

John Brant (John Wayne) is wrongly imprisoned on murder charges but escapes from a Maryland jail. He sets out to find the real killer. Sheriff Parker (Bob Burns) is hot on his trail but Brant eludes him by staying underwater. An outlaw by the name of Bob Jones (Lane Chandler) is impressed witnessing how the outlaw outfoxes the lawmen and takes the fellow outlaw, who calls himself John Smith, to an abandoned mine hideout. The leader of the gang, Ed Walsh (Yakima Canutt), is suspicious but since he needs a cook lets him stay. Walsh tells Jones that Smith must prove himself by robbing a general store in town, and Jones volunteers to be his partner. In the store, Smith warns the perky clerk Sally Blake (Nancy Shubert) that the store safe will be robbed that night and she informs her dad. The sheriff sets a trap and wings Smith, but the men escape. Recovering from his wounds in Blind Pete’s saloon, Smith learns that Blind Pete gives the gang info on which places to rob. Smith foils a planned stage robbery and tells Sally about it. He also says he found the man he’s looking for, Bob Jones was the Baltimore man who in a jealous rage killed his wife’s lover when he found them together and then fled unaware that another man was arrested for his crime. In an exciting climax, John Wayne is able to clear his name, get the girl and see to it that the gang gets captured.

In this quickie Western, the thin plot and uninteresting acting are overshadowed by the many action scenes. Yakima Canutt performed all the stunts for Wayne, which called for jumping from his horse onto a speeding stagecoach.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”