STAGECOACH TO DENVER (director: R.G. Springsteen; screenwriters: Fred Harman/Earle Snell; cinematographer: Edgar Lyons; editor: Les Orlebeck; music: Mort Glickman; cast: Allan “Rocky” Lane (Red Ryder), Bobby Blake (Little Beaver), Roy Barcroft (Big Bill Lambert), Martha Wentworth (Dutchess), Peggy Stewart (‘Beautiful’, the fake May Barnes), Emmett Lynn (Coonskin), Bobby Hyatt (Dicky Ray Barnes), Ed Cassidy (Land Commissioner Felton), Wheaton Chambers (Jasper Braydon), George Chesebro (Henchman Blackie Grubb), Tom Chatterton (Dr. Kimball), Marin Sais (the real May Barnes), Stanley Price (Wally, the fake Land Commissioner), Edmund Cobb (Henchman Duke); Runtime: 54; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sidney Picker; Goodtimes Home Video/Republic; 1946)
“Its target audience is elementary school aged youngsters and it offers them an emotionally moving story.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A fine B Western that has Allan “Rocky” Lane star as the classic cowboy hero Red Ryder. Its target audience is elementary school aged youngsters and it offers them an emotionally moving story. Dicky Ray Barnes is a 10-year-old whose parents just died and he hasn’t been told yet that he’s been left an orphan. Red Ryder’s good-hearted aunt, the Dutchess (Martha Wentworth), takes the child to Elkhorn by stagecoach. Dicky is then put on the stage to Denver; the other passenger is the honest Land Commissioner Felton, who is on his way to report a crooked land survey scheme that will enable the gang led by the oily Big Bill Lambert (Roy Barcroft) to steal the ranches from the locals. Bill’s hired thugs cause the stagecoach to spill over an embankment, killing the driver and Felton but Dicky escapes with a serious back injury that will leave him paralyzed unless immediately operated on. The country doctor (Tom Chatterton) informs Dutchess and Red that he can’t operate without the permission of the nearest relative, his Aunt May Barnes in Denver. Red goes to the outlying mining company to relay the telegraph message for the aunt to come to Elkhorn, but finds it strange that gunmen shoot at him trying to prevent him from sending the message. When Bill realizes he can’t stop the message, he has his thugs stop the stage and kidnap the kid’s aunt and new Land Commissioner Taylor. The smooth-talking Bill gets a young woman called Beautiful (Peggy Stewart) to pose as the kid’s aunt and Wally (Stanley Price) to pose as the new Land Commissioner. What the treacherous Bill doesn’t count on is that Beautiful has a soft heart and really cares about the kid. Dicky gets the operation but struggles to survive, as an expert doctor in Denver is required for a second opinion. Beautiful will do everything she can to save the kid, while Bill will do everything he can to prevent her from taking the kid to Denver. Soon Red Ryder puts together the pieces of the puzzle and goes after the crooked land grabbers to save the properties of the good folks in town, like his friend Coonskin from losing his ranch as the new commissioner doctors the survey for his ranch, and makes sure Dicky gets the attention he needs.
Robert Blake plays Little Beaver, but has a part that requires little of him with only a few speaking lines. This is one of the better episodes in the long-running Red Ryder series. It’s directed with efficiency by R.G. Springsteen, and screenwriters Fred Harman and Earle Snell do a nice job thickening the plot line for their scheming slick villain Barcroft–a Republic studio regular.
REVIEWED ON 7/14/2005 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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