(director: George Sherman; screenwriters: Betty Burbridge & Jack Natteford story and screenplay/characters by William Colt MacDonald; cinematographer: Reggie Lanning; editor: Tony Martinelli; cast: John Wayne (Stony Brooke), Ray Corrigan (Tucson Smith), Raymond Hatton (Rusty Joslin), Don ‘Red’ Barry (Will Parker), Pamela Blake (Irene Parker), LeRoy Mason (Joe Balsinger), Charles Middleton (Luke Parker), Katherine Kenworthy (Mrs. Parker), Elmo Lincoln (U.S. Marshal Gregg), Jack Ingram (Sheriff Nolan), Yakima Canutt (Henchman Ed Sims), Allan Cavan (Senator Roberts); Runtime: 58; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Berke; Republic; 1939)
“It’s what it is, a forgettable B Western.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Republic was responsible for making eight Three Mesquiteers films where John Wayne appeared. They were all low-budget quickies shot in five days. They were all made at once and just two a year were released. When Wayne’s breakthrough film Stagecoach became a smash hit, Republic released the four Wayne films not released–Wyoming Outlaw was one of those films, and it proved to be a gold mine for the studio. It’s written by Betty Burbridge and Jack Natteford and directed by the always competent George Sherman. It’s based on a real-life incident about someone the newspapers dubbed a would-be modern Robin Hood, who escaped the law and while hiding in the Wyoming hills was shot by a citizen. In the film the part is played by Don ‘Red’ Barry, which helped launch his career in Westerns.
The film is set in 1918. The Three Mesquiteers, Stony Brooke (John Wayne), Tucson Smith (Ray Corrigan), Rusty Joslin (Raymond Hatton), bring their herd to Wyoming, which is experiencing an economic crisis due to dust storms. The trio have one of their steers stolen by strongman Will Parker ( Don ‘Red’ Barry), whose hard working family is out of work and starving. The family patriarch is fired highway foreman Luke Parker (Charles Middleton), crippled after an accident. Stoney meets in a diner/dance hall Irene (Pamela Blake), Will’s sister, and he overlooks that she stole his money. The trio also overlook the stolen steer and hire Will as a cowhand. But the park rangers in Acacia National Park catch Will poaching and arrest him. When he escapes Stoney goes on the hunt for him, but a gas station attendant plugs him. Meanwhile the town has been taken over by a corrupt political appointee, Joe Balsinger (LeRoy Mason). Stoney petitions his old friend Senator Roberts for help and the politicians begin a corruption investigation, but the witnesses are intimidated by Balsinger henchman Ed Simms (Yakima Canutt). In the end the investigators discover Balsinger was running an illegal patronage system by selling jobs and the Three Mesquiteers happily ride back to their 3M ranch.
It’s what it is, a forgettable B Western.
REVIEWED ON 10/3/2005 GRADE: C