(director: George Sherman; screenwriters: story by Anthony Coldeway/Anthony Coldeway/Betty Burbridge; cinematographer: William Nobles; editor: Tony Martinelli; music: Cy Feuer; cast: Robert Livingston (Stony Brooke), Bob Steele (Tucson Smith), Rufe Davis (Lullaby Joslin), Lois Ranson (Helen), Henry Brandon (Tom Blackton), Wade Boteler (Sheriff Brooke), Yakima Canutt (Blackton Henchman, Talbot), Rex Lease (Blackton Henchman, Marsden), Jack Ingram (Blackton Henchman, Finley); Runtime: 57; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Grey; Republic; 1940)

“An all too familiar Three Mesquiteer outing.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An all too familiar Three Mesquiteer outing. Rufe Davis as the dumb barber Lullaby Joslin makes his first appearance replacing Raymond Hatton, while Bob Steele as rancher Tucson Smith replaces Duncan Renaldo. Robert Livingston as Stony Brooke was the only original member, but he was soon to quit and be replaced by John Wayne. With all the changes the story nevertheless remains as stale as ever.

It’s set in 1859 when the Federal troops left the frontier towns to prepare for the impending Civil War. Crooked deputy Tom Blackton (Henry Brandon) organizes a gang to raid all passing wagon trains who must pass through the Overland Trail, and business is good for the gang because the law is too short-handed to stop them. When the ranchers catch one of the gang, Talbot (Yakima Canutt), in a raid, he’s jailed. Unhappy rancher Tucson Smith has a private pow-wow with honest Sheriff Brooke (Wade Boteler) that the deputies hired by Blackton seem to be the same men who are doing the raids. Just as Brooke is promising to change deputies Blackton plugs him and frames Tucson for the murder, with Talbot being the main witness. In a kangaroo court, Tucson is convicted and set to be hanged when his rancher pals free him. Blackton’s men give chase on the trail, but Sheriff Brooke’s son Stony comes to town after receiving a letter from dad asking for help and while riding his white horse rescues his old pal and takes the injured Tucson to his sister Helen Smith’s (Lois Ranson) ranch. When Blackton and his men come knocking on the door, he helps his old friend escape by fistfighting with them. Returning to town, Stony learns Tucson is the convicted murderer of his father. Stony becomes a deputy and thinks for a moment maybe Tucson is guilty, but he soon changes his mind after learning that the circuit judge requested by the ranchers for a new fair trial was gunned down in a phony attempt to make it look like a stagecoach robbery. It all leads to the ranchers and the Three Mesquiteers having a final shootout with Blackton’s gang. Nothing you haven’t seen before in the series.

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