Thursday, August 01, 2013

Tonight's Movie: Robbers of the Range (1941)

The past few days' viewing has certainly been eclectic!

Since seeing the Tim Holt Western GUNS OF HATE (1948) last week, I've watched a silent comedy, a big-screen part-silent/part-talkie Biblical epic, a romantic comedy "B" movie, a big-screen Disney sci-fi/fantasy, a Japanese film, and a glamorous MGM movie of the '30s. That's quite a week of movies!

After the past week's fun lineup, tonight it was back to Tim Holt and his 61-minute film ROBBERS OF THE RANGE.

ROBBERS OF THE RANGE is from early on in Holt's career as a cowboy star, and he's joined by two regular sidekicks of the era, singer-composer Ray Whitley and comic Emmett Lynn. His leading lady this time around is Virginia Vale, a regular George O'Brien costar in films such as THE MARSHAL OF MESA CITY (1939) and LEGION OF THE LAWLESS (1940).

Tim plays Jim Drummond, who has a pretty horrible day when some evil railroad men who want his ranch frame him for his neighbor's murder. While a sheriff is transporting Jim to the town of Blue Mesa for trial, their stagecoach is attacked by more railroad hired guns, who kill everyone on the stage but Jim.

When Jim shows up in Blue Mesa, he pretends to be a gunman so that he can go to work for the railroad and obtain the evidence needed to clear his name. Matters come to a head when the railroad men also frame the father (Howard Hickman) of pretty Alice (Vale).

This is a pleasant hour, though it somewhat lacks the polish and beautiful look of many of Holt's postwar Westerns. It was filmed in Southern California, and while Harry J. Wild was a fine cinematographer (STATION WEST), there's nothing particularly distinguished about either his work here or the movie ranch locations.

The pleasure is in the solid execution of a run-of-the-mill story, with Holt doing his usual good job as the quick-thinking hero and the genial Whitley singing a couple of tunes.

It's also fun to see Vale opposite Tim Holt instead of George O'Brien. This was her only Holt Western.  She did make a few RKO musical shorts with Whitley, such as PRAIRIE SPOONERS (1941), REDSKINS AND REDHEADS (1941), CACTUS CAPERS (1942), and RANGE RHYTHM (1942). Those would be fun to see; I hope they've survived.

Sharp-eyed viewers will spot Hank Worden (THE SEARCHERS) as a worker changing the horses at a stagecoach stop.

ROBBERS OF THE RANGE was directed by Edward Killy.

ROBBERS OF THE RANGE is available in a terrific print in the 10-film Tim Holt Western Classics Collection, Vol. 1. The DVD can be rented from ClassicFlix.

Previous reviews of Tim Holt Westerns: THE RENEGADE RANGER (1938), THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), GUNS OF HATE (1948), RIDERS OF THE RANGE (1950), STORM OVER WYOMING (1950), RIDER FROM TUCSON (1950), and BORDER TREASURE (1950).


OpenID fiftieswesterns said...

Keep 'em coming, Laura!

I've been holding off on the Holts for the time when I can binge-watch them all in order.

Till then, I'm living vicariously through your posts — and wishing for the day when I can visit Lone Pine!

11:25 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks so much, Toby! I appreciate that. :) I know you're going to enjoy these!

I started out watching Vol. 3 in order, then have gone backwards in time, skipping around a little bit.

Lone Pine will even more special next time I visit. Hope you have the chance to get there before too long!

Best wishes,

10:33 PM  

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