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SANTA FE STAMPEDE (director: George Sherman; screenwriters: Betty Burbridge/characters by William Colt MacDonald/Luci Ward/story by Luci Ward; cinematographer: Reggie Lanning; editor: Tony Martinelli; cast: John Wayne (Stony Brooke), Ray Corrigan (Tucson Smith), Max Terhune (Lullaby Joslin), June Martel (Nancy Carson), William Farnum (Dave Carson), LeRoy Mason (Mayor Gil Byron), Genee Hall (Julie Jane Carson), Martin Spellman (Billy Carson), Dick Rush (Sheriff Tom), Tom London (Marshal Jim Wood); Runtime: 57; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Berke; Republic Pictures; 1938)
“One of the better oaters in the Mesquiteers series.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This Republic film is part of the Three Mesquiteers series. The Mesquiteers are Stony Brooke (John Wayne), Tucson Smith (Ray “Crash” Corrigan), and for comedy relief Lullaby Joslin (Max Terhune). It’s directed in a workmanlike way by George Sherman; it’s based on the story by Luci Ward, who also is the screenwriter along with Betty Burbridge.

The Three Mesquiteers answer their friend Dave Carson’s (William Farnum, former silent screen star) call for help. Dave strikes gold in his New Mexico mine that the boys helped him with a grubstake and offers to split the profits. He’s concerned that crooked town mayor Gilbert Byron intends to steal the mine from him and frets that he uses his office to make the law work in his favor. Things get hairy when the Mayor’s henchmen kill Dave and his young daughter (Genee Hall) who are riding in a buckboard with the petition to give to the governor to get law-and-order restored while Stony goes on a different route to file the mine claim. Stony gets framed for the murder (the motive suggested by the Mayor is that he stole Dave’s claim and then killed him). The Mayor’s henchmen stir up a mob of the townspeople to go after Stony in the jail. With the help of the Mesquiteers and the honest marshal (Tom London), Stony survives that attempt. He then goes on to prove his innocence and round up the criminals by setting a trap for them.

The film breaks a Western taboo by having a child killed in a runaway buckboard, as such treatment of children never happened before in a Western. It’s one of the better oaters in the Mesquiteers series, which might not be saying much but should please the fans of the B-Western. I’m still looking for a stampede, as one has to wonder where that title came from.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”