The story is based on a Zane Grey book which had previously been filmed twice, first with Tim's own father, Jack Holt (1925), and later with Randolph Scott (1932). It's rather special that Tim remade his father's film a couple decades later.
This time around Dave (Holt) and Chito (Richard Martin) are working for Pop Melhern (Jason Robards Sr.) rounding up wild horses. Pop's daughter Sue, who casts admiring eyes Dave's way, is played by Holt's frequent leading lady Nan Leslie.
I didn't care much for the story in this one; stories about rounding up wild horses aren't really my thing, and the plot takes some sad, overly predictable turns. The film has some fun moments, including Chito's opening song, but this one's in the lower tier of Holt films for me.
Complaints aside, the extensive Lone Pine filming is spectacular, and I especially enjoyed that aspect due to our visit to the "Movie Road" area last summer. I'll be seeing some "Tim and Chito" locations at next month's Lone Pine Film Festival; perhaps I'll also see the ranch standing in for the Melherns' place!
This 60-minute film was directed by Wallace Grissell and filmed by Frank Redman.
The very first Tim Holt "B" Western I watched, THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), was also based on a Zane Grey story. The Holt Westerns based on the Grey books have fallen into the public domain; like THUNDER MOUNTAIN, WILD HORSE MESA is out on DVD from Lions Gate. The print from C&C Television Corp. is a little rough around the edges but the majority of it looks good.
Hopefully the Warner Archive will include the Zane Grey Holts in a future set so we can enjoy prints which look even better!
WILD HORSE MESA also had a release on VHS.
Please also visit my tributes to Tim Holt and Richard Martin.