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SUNDOWN RIDER(director/writer: Lambert Hillyer; screenwriter: from the story by John T. Neville; cinematographer: John W. Boyle; music: Glenn Strange; cast: Buck Jones (Camp O’Neill), Barbara Weeks (Molly McCall), Pat O’Malley (Lafe Armstrong), Niles Welch (Houseman), Ward Bond (Gabe Powers), Wheeler Oakman (Laughing Maxey), Bradley Page (Jim Hunter), Edward Brady (Sheriff Kenyon), Frank LaRue (Sheriff Rand); Runtime: 65; MPAA Rating: NR; Columbia Pictures; 1932)
“Routine B Western with not much that’s interesting.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Routine B Western with not much that’s interesting. It’s written and directed by Lambert Hillyer and based on the story by John T. Neville.

Buck Jones plays a drifter named Camp O’Neill from Oklahoma who comes to Texas upon receiving a letter from his friend Lafe Armstrong (Pat O’Malley) asking for help, which he doesn’t explain. While looking for Lafe on the trail, the guileless cowboy asks cowpoke Laughing Maxey (Wheeler Oakman) where he can find Lafe. Maxey tricks him into starting a campfire and waiting for him on the trail to bring Lafe there. Instead Maxey informs some rancher vigilantes that the stranger’s a rustler and the ignorant law enforcers brand Camp’s chest with a hot iron, giving him the mark of a rustler without even questioning him or conducting a search for the truth. Camp recovers and learns from a gun-dealer that ruthless saloon owner Maxey was the one who set him up. Facing down Maxey in his saloon, he has to first gun down Maxey’s henchmen before confronting Maxey and leaving a mark on his face to remember him by. When Lafe steps into the saloon, he’s shot by the last of the gang. The outlaw is immediately gunned down by Camp. With no more witnesses, as Lafe and Camp exit, a shady gambler named Hunter (Bradley Page) shoots Maxey in the back and the blame is laid on Camp. The wounded Lafe dies in the doctor’s office, but tells Camp he called him to help Molly McCall (Barbara Weeks) the daughter of a dear friend who passed away and left his ranch to her. She’s about to lose her ranch to the bank because of rustlers trying to force her off the property. Camp, who made a deathbed promise to help, poses as Lafe and is hired by Molly as foreman. His first act is to beat up ranch hand Gabe (Ward Bond) and fire him; he was a plant put in by crooked banker Houseman (Niles Welch) to sabotage the ranch. Camp’s tough tactics work and he manages to keep the men together to stop the rustling and thereby sell Molly’s cattle.

Things get complicated when Hunter comes to town to sell for $5,000 information to Houseman that the man posing as Lafe is really wanted outlaw Camp. The sheriff is then told to arrest Camp. But when Houseman double-crosses on his payment to Hunter and has Gabe gun him down, the scoundrel lives long enough to tell Camp that Houseman wants Molly’s ranch because there’s oil on it. It all hinges on Camp getting to the bank before sundown to pay the banker before he takes over the ranch. A hint: the film’s titled the Sundown Rider.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”