(director: D. Ross Lederman; screenwriters: from the short story by William Colt McDonald/Kurt Kempler; cinematographer: Ben Kline; editor: Otto Meyer; music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff/Sam Perry; cast: John Wayne (Duke), Tim McCoy (Tim Clark), Walter Brennan (Deputy Sheriff Bendix), Alice Day (Betty Owen), Tully Marshall (Sheriff Malcolm), Wallace MacDonald (Artie), Wheeler Oakman (Bob Russell), Richard Alexander (Zeke Yokum); Runtime: 64; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Irving Briskin; Columbia Pictures; 1932)

“The only thing it has going for it is plenty of energy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

John Wayne disappears in a minor role as star Tim McCoy carries this routine western. It’s based on a story by William Colt McDonald (who later penned the Three Mesquiteers) and directed by D. Ross Lederman. The only thing it has going for it is plenty of energy.

It opens with rancher Tim Clark (Tim McCoy) losing his inherited Bar-X Ranch for not paying off a loan note to the shady Bob Russell (Wheeler Oakman). Forced to leave the ranch, Tim tells loyal ranch hands Artie (Wallace MacDonald) and Duke (John Wayne) he’s going silver prospecting and planning to expose Russell as a cattle rustler to get back the ranch. The boys get jobs on the Bridal-Bit Ranch of Betty Owen (Alice Day), the girl the bashful Tim is sweet on.

Tim returns two years later and learns Russell is about to take over Betty’s ranch because she can’t pay the mortgage. Betty needs $10,000 and Tim promises to pay it for her. When the Wells Fargo Express Office is robbed of $10,000 the suspicion falls on Tim. But Tim returns to pay off Betty’s mortgage from the gold mine he discovered and along with Sheriff Malcolm (Tully Marshall) gets proof the robbery was done by Russell with the help of his henchman Yokum (Richard Alexander) and the crooked deputy Bendix (Walter Brennan). Before his death, the deputy confesses that Tim’s ranch was illegally obtained.

McCoy doesn’t make as good a hero as the Duke. Oakman is the villain the B-western audience can’t resist hissing, and became recognized as setting the villain standard. The trite dialogue was bad even for a B-western.

Two-Fisted Law Poster