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TEXAS CYCLONE (director: D. Ross Lederman; screenwriters: story by William Colt MacDonald/Randall Faye; cinematographer: Ben Kline; editor: Otto Meyer; cast: John Wayne (Steve Pickett), Tim McCoy (Texas Grant), Shirley Grey (Helena Rawlins), Wheeler Oakman (Utah Becker), Wallace MacDonald (Nick Lawlor), Nick Lawlor (Jeff Oliver), Vernon Dent (Hefty), Mary Gordon (Kate), Walter Brennan (Lew Collins); Runtime: 58; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Irving Briskin; Columbia Pictures; 1932)
“Primitive Western about reclaimed justice.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Primitive Western about reclaimed justice. It uses the old dead ringer plot much before it became a B Western standard plot device. The film stars Tim McCoy as Texas Grant. He was of the biggest Western stars of the silent and early-talkie era and to boot is one of the few Western stars who was a real cowboy. The film is directed by D. Ross Lederman and based on a story by William Colt MacDonald. It’s scripted by Randall Faye.

Grant’s a drifter who arrives in Stampede, Arizona, and is mistaken for Jim Rawlins who disappeared five years ago and was presumed to be dead. Grant agrees to go along with the charade because he discovers from chatty bartender Hefty (Vernon Dent) that Jim was a good guy and his rivals are bad guys, led by cattle rustler Utah Becker (Wheeler Oakman). In only a supporting role John Wayne, the lean and fit 25-year-old is in his last film for Columbia after only a short stay for a studio who didn’t know how to use him, plays loyal cowpuncher Steve Pickett. He works on Rawlins’ widow Helena’s (Shirley Grey) Diamond R ranch and is the only honest cowpuncher employed there. The foreman Nick Lawlor (Jeff Oliver) and his hired goons, are on the payroll of Utah’s and they rustle from her herd. When Jim takes over he fires the foreman and beats him in a fistfight and then goes after Utah’s rustling gang to save Helena’s ranch, which is going broke because of all the rustling. After kicking Utah’s gang out of town with the help of his cowpuncher friends from Texas, Jim gets into a gun duel with Utah and kills him but gets wounded. While treated at the ranch by Helena, the delirious hero blurts out that he’s really Jim Rawlins and apparently suffered from amnesia after Utah knocked him unconscious five years ago and shipped him out of town in a railroad boxcar.

The career of McCoy after this film plummeted to where he ended up making Poverty Row films at Monogram and PRC, while everyone knows when the Duke got his break he became a National Monument in film. It’s an entertaining film if taken on its own limited terms and is a fine example of how B Westerns were made during this time frame. But it can’t hold up to modern standards and could be best seen as a curio. A 38-year-old Walter Brennan can also be seen in a bit role as an elderly irascible sheriff, a role he was to fine tune into a memorable career.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”