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SOMEWHERE IN SONORA (director: Mack V. Wright; screenwriters: Joe Roach/from the story “Somewhere South in Sonora” in The Saturday Evening Post by Will Levington Comfort; cinematographer: Ted D. McCord; editor: Wm. Clemens; music: Leo F. Forbstein; cast: John Wayne (John Bishop), Henry B. Walthall (Bob Leadly), Shirley Palmer (Mary Burton), Ann Faye (Patsy Ellis), J.P. McGowan (Monte Black), Paul Fix (Bart Leadly), Ralph Lewis (Mr. Kelly Burton), Frank Rice (Riley), Billy Franey (Shorty), Bob Fleming (Sheriff Charlie), Joe Dominguez (Rurales Captain Ramon Ramirez), Slim Whitaker (Monte gang member); Runtime: 57; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Leon Schlesinger; Warner Bros.; 1933)
“Routine shoot’em-up from the early days of John Wayne.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Routine shoot’em-up from the early days of John Wayne (he was 26 at the time). It was the fifth of six westerns he made for Warner Brothers. Mack V. Wright helms from the story “Somewhere South in Sonora” in The Saturday Evening Post by Will Levington Comfort, while Joe Roach is the screenwriter. It’s your typical formulaic B Western, with the Wayne character joining a gang to bring them down and rescue an innocent member.

In Twin Forks, Arizona, John Bishop (John Wayne) is the top ranch hand for kindly owner Bob Leadly (Henry B. Walthall, former star in silent movies). At a rodeo stagecoach race John’s falsely accused of causing an accident to the other racer and arrested by the sheriff (he might qualify as the dumbest lawman ever in a B-film Western). Leadly arranges with comical ranch hands Shorty (Billy Franey) and Riley (Frank Rice) for John to escape. John changes his plans to flee to Nevada when he hears that his boss’s son, Bart (Paul Fix), disappeared two years ago somewhere across the border in Sonora when he shot a man in a crooked card game and is most likely hiding out with the ruthless Monte Black (J.P. McGowan) gang (known as the Brotherhood of Death). Joined by Shorty and Riley, who tell John he was cleared of any misconduct, the determined John tells them he must anyway go to Sonora and infiltrate the gang in order to save Bart because his father was so good to him. Soon John alone infiltrates the gang, whose motto is that ‘no one ever leaves Monte Black’s gang alive.’ After John’s initiation where he proves he can throw a knife better than Bull and shoot better than any other gang member, the gang raids the silver mine of Kelly Burton (Ralph Lewis). John gets his ‘miracle’ white horse Duke to sound a warning bell by tugging on an attached rope and the mine workers stave off the raid. John and Bart try to escape to Twin Forks but are cornered among the boulders by the fleeing gang. When Duke goes on alone to the silver mine compound John’s girlfriend Mary (Shirley Palmer), the daughter of the mine owner, gets help from Captain Ramon Ramirez and his Rurales (the Mexican cavalry). The gang is captured and Bart returns home as a free man, while John wins the hand of Mary.

It was the first of many films Wayne and Fix were to be in together. It’s a remake of the 1927 Ken Maynard silent of the same title, even using a lot of the stock footage from that film.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”