(director: Ray Taylor; screenwriters: Al Martin/story “Shotgun Messenger” by Arthur St. Claire; cinematographer: Jerome Ash; editor: Maurice Wright; music: H.J. Salter; cast:  Johnny Mack Brown (Steve Hardin), Fuzzy Knight (Clem Clemmons), Nell O’Day (Molly Denton), Henry Hall (Joseph Denton), Anne Nagel (Nina Kincaid), Ernie Adams (Blinky), Frank Brownlee (Higgins), Lloyd Ingraham (Ezra Simpson), Herbert Rawlinson (Bill Kincaid), Glenn Strange (Braddock), Jack C. Smith (Sheriff), Hank Bell (Bartender), Lynton Brent (Lyncher); Runtime: 58; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Will Cowan; Universal; 1942-B/W)

“Plenty of action.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Ray Taylor (“Law and Order”/”Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe”) gives this efficiently executed routine B western plenty of action and keeps it fast-paced. Writer Al Martin bases it on the story “Shotgun Messenger” by Arthur St. Claire.

In Wyoming, cowboy drifters Steve Hardin (Johnny Mack Brown) and Clem (Fuzzy Knight) are camping out on the trail as the stagecoach is robbed in the morning.  Steve stops the runaway horses after the outlaws kill the drivers. When Steve brings the stage to Cottonwood, the woman passenger Nina (Anne Nagel) says he’s the gang leader because he’s wearing the same clothes. A mob is ready to lynch him and his sidekick, but the other wounded passenger, Ezra (Lloyd Ingraham), tells the stage owner’s daughter Molly Denton (Nell O’Day) that he’s riding a different horse than the outlaw and she stops the lynching just in time. When no drivers are available to take gold for an emergency night shipment to nearby Redwood, the stage owner Joe Denton  (Henry Hall) goes himself. He’s ambushed because Nina, staying with the Dentons while visiting her saloon gambler father Kincaid (Herbert Rawlinson), whom she hasn’t seen since she was a child, unwittingly tells him of the gold shipment. Kincaid is the outlaw leader and he gets his boys to rob and kill Denton. Thereby Steve and Clem volunteer to drive the stage, and they foil one robbery by having hired male gunmen pose as passengers while wearing women clothes and finally they roundup the gang after setting a trap. Meanwhile Nina finds out that Kincaid is not her real father, but raised his wife’s 2-year-old daughter as his own on her request.

When there are no runaway horses, stage holdups, fistfights or gunfights, there are songs like these: “Don’t Ever Be a Cowboy,” “Just Too Gosh Darn Bashful,” “Wyomin’ Will Be a New Home,” and “Put It There.”

REVIEWED ON 2/9/2017       GRADE: B-