WEST OF THE DIVIDE
(director/writer: Robert North Bradbury; screenwriter: story by Oliver Drake; cinematographer: Louis Clyde Stouman; editor: Carl Pierson; cast: John Wayne (Ted Hayden), Virginia Faire Brown (Fay Winters), George ‘Gabby’ Hayes ( ‘Dusty’ Rhodes), Lloyd Whitlock (Mr. Gentry), Yakima Canutt (Hank, Gentry Henchman), Lafe McKee (Winters), Billy O’Brien (Spud), Hal Price (Doctor Silsby), Blackie Whiteford (Henchman Butch); Runtime: 54; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Malvern; Monogram; 1934)
“John Wayne’s best Lone Star film is not that good but it’s watchable.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
John Wayne’s best Lone Star film is not that good but it’s watchable. It’s a remake of the Tom Tyler Western Partners of the Trail (1931). It covers those familiar B Western plot points about a man seeking revenge for the murder of his father and going underground disguised as an outlaw to get the goods on the villain. It’s taken from a story by Oliver Drake, and directed and scripted by Robert North Bradbury.
Ted Hayden (John Wayne) is a young cowhand who returns to his boyhood hometown with the man who 12-years ago saved his life ‘Dusty’ Rhodes (George ‘Gabby’ Hayes). On that fatal day his widowed father was murdered and his kid brother Jim was snatched. As fate would have it, on the trail wanted outlaw Gat Gans drops dead from drinking poisoned water from a pond. Ted finds on him a letter to work as a hired gun for rancher Gentry (Lloyd Whitlock), who suspiciously took over the Hayden’s ranch, and impersonates him. On his way to see Gentry, he discovers Fay Winters (Virginia Faire Brown) lying in a shack unconscious with a bullet wound and bank deposit slip with $3,000 besides her. Ted takes her to a doctor in town and deposits the money, and goes on to meet Gentry. The villain’s plan is to rustle the cattle and kill Fay’s father (Lafe McKee) in order to take over the ranch Gentry wants for some inexplicable reason. But with Wayne and Gabby on the side of the good guys, you sure know that the baddie will get his comeuppance. Also, Ted will discover his brother Jim, who now goes by the name of Spud, living with the villain Butch. They will be reunited after all the villains are either killed or arrested.
There are a few well-played out fistfights. One has Wayne fighting with Gentry’s henchman Hank, played by stunt coordinator Yakima Canutt. The other is a more drawn out fistfight between Wayne and Gentry. Though poorly scripted, it still passes as an adequate representative of the B Western. Wayne’s strong presence is felt.
REVIEWED ON 8/16/2005 GRADE: C+