Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Tonight's Movie: Riders of the Range (1950)

One of the highlights for me at the recent TCM Classic Film Festival was the chance to see Jacqueline White, the delightful star of THE NARROW MARGIN (1952), interviewed by Eddie Muller.

It was thus a real treat to see White as the leading lady in the latest Tim Holt Western I've watched, RIDERS OF THE RANGE. Adding to the fun, the villain was played by Reed Hadley, the distinctively voiced narrator of countless "docu-noir" titles. White and Hadley were great additions to this solid Holt entry, which was filmed in the San Bernardino National Forest.

This time around Holt's character goes by the name of Kansas Jones; he'd also play a Kansas again in RIO GRANDE PATROL. Holt's character names may vary, but his sidekick, played by the irrepressible Richard Martin, is invariably named Chito Rafferty!

Kansas and Chito ride into town and become involved in the problems of Harry Willis (Robert Clarke) and his sister Priscilla (White), known as Dusty. Harry is a nice but dumb guy who owes evil saloon owner Burrows (Hadley) a lot of money. Harry initially plans to repay the debt by letting Burrows' henchman steal some of Dusty's cattle, but Kansas puts an end to that plot in a hurry.

When Harry comes clean to Dusty, she provides the funds to pay off Burrows, but there are more complications ahead, including a murder.

This is a typical Holt Western, with nice interplay between Holt, Martin, and the cast, against some beautiful mountain backdrops. The story moves quickly, over and done in an hour.

Having seen a handful of Holt Westerns now, it's fun to start recognizing familiar sets, such as the saloon.

A comment at IMDb notes that both Holt and Tom Tyler, who plays Burrows' murderous henchman, were in the cast of John Ford's STAGECOACH (1939), and it's thus rather amusing that Tyler's character is named the Ringo Kid -- which was the name of John Wayne's character in STAGECOACH.

I found a nice interview with Jacqueline White at Western Clippings. She shared that when she was in high school, a good friend of hers dated Tim Holt, so it was fun to make a movie with him years later.

White also said, "Richard Martin was a charming guy -- real nice and tall! A good looking fellow." I was glad to learn he was a nice guy off the screen as well. Martin (in photo) played the genial Chito roughly 30 times between 1943 and 1952; other than bit parts and some small roles, his film career consisted of being Chito! And in doing so he made a wonderful contribution to the movies.

RIDERS OF THE RANGE was filmed in black and white by J. Roy Hunt and directed by Lesley Selander. Selander's name has appeared in the credits of a number of films I've seen this year, most recently PANHANDLE (1948) with Rod Cameron and RIDER FROM TUCSON (1950) starring Tim Holt.

RIDERS OF THE RANGE is available in an excellent print from the Warner Archive's Tim Holt Western Classics Collection, Vol. 2.

Previous reviews of Tim Holt Westerns here at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), STORM OVER WYOMING (1950), RIDER FROM TUCSON (1950), and BORDER TREASURE (1950).


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