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TRAIL DRIVE, THE (director/writer: Alan James; screenwriter: Nate Gatzert/story by Alan James; cinematographer: Ted McCord; editor: Charles Harris; music: Ken Maynard; cast: Ken Maynard (Ken Benton), Cecilia Parker (Virginia Weston), William Gould (‘Honest’ John), Frank Rice (‘Thirsty’), Bob Kortman (Henchman Blake), Fern Emmett (Aunt Martha), Jack Rockwell (The Marshal), Lafe McKee (Jameson); Runtime: 60; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ken Maynard; Universal Pictures; 1933)
“The epic look of a silent Western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Cinematographer Ted McCord gives it the epic look of a silent Western (great shots of grazing cattle and the herd stampeding). Alan James directs; the script is by James and Nate Gatzert, that’s based on James’ story.

Ken Benton (Ken Maynard) is ramrod for rancher ‘Honest’ John (William Gould), someone who turns out to be anything but honest. Behind the scenes, ‘Honest’ John gets his enforcer Blake (Bob Kortman) to make it possible there’s no one to buy the ranchers’ cattle brought into Sweetwater, Texas. Before buyer Jameson (Lafe McKee) can say what’s up, he’s plugged and left in critical condition. ‘Honest’ John buys the cattle from everyone by offering scrip (worthless paper), which Ken foolishly guarantees. The scam artist promises he’ll pay them in money when the herd is sold in New Mexico and that, meanwhile, the scrip will buy them anything they want in town. When Jameson recovers, he tells the marshal about the scam and how the villain plans to sell the herd in New Mexico and leave them with nothing but the worthless scrip. The marshal forms a posse to stop Ken from delivering the herd to New Mexico, because if the herd is still in Texas John can be forced to release the cattle. If they reach New Mexico the law is on ‘Honest’ John’s side.

It’s up to Ken to get the ranchers out of the mess he got them into. He does this with the help of his girlfriend Virginia (Cecilia Parker), who will lose all her cattle, like all the other ranchers, unless Ken can save the day.

Not much of a storyline, but if measured against B Western standards this is a passable oater.

REVIEWED ON 10/25/2005 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”