Saturday, January 10, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Canyon Raiders (1951) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

CANYON RAIDERS (1951) is a Monogram Western starring Whip Wilson. It's available on DVD in the Monogram Cowboy Collection, Vol. 2, from the Warner Archive.

Like Western star Johnny Mack Brown, Whip Wilson went by the same name on and off screen. Likewise, actor Jim Bannon, who plays Whip's pal in several films, goes by the name Jim Bannon onscreen as well.

Whip shows up in a little Western town just in time to help Jim, whose cattle have been rustled by a gang played by familiar "B" Western faces I. Stanford Jolley, Marshall Reed, and Riley Hill.

Whip and Jim also team up with the spunky lady sheriff (Phyllis Coates) to help some settlers (Fuzzy Knight and Barbara Woodell) harrassed by the rustlers and a gambler (Bill Kennedy).

That's pretty much all there is to this simple little 54-minute movie. The film's main pleasure is seeing a nice collection of "B" Western faces. A "bare bones" story like this really needs a lead actor with more personality to help hold the interest, along the lines of a Johnny Mack Brown; Wilson didn't strike me as a very charismatic actor in my first exposure to his work. I'd class this fairly bland title as chiefly of interest to curious "B" Western fans.

Whip Wilson was born Roland Meyers in 1911. A WWII vet, Wilson is said to have been offered a Monogram contract due to his resemblance to the late Western star Buck Jones. His time in the movies lasted nearly a decade; he accumulated over two dozen screen credits, most of those starring in Whip Wilson Westerns. He passed on in 1964.

Leading lady Phyllis Coates appeared in several Westerns with Wilson. She is best known for playing Alice McDoakes in the long-running Joe McDoakes shorts and for starring as Lois Lane in TV's ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN in the early '50s. She is now 87.

An interesting bit of trivia is that in the '40s Coates was briefly married to Joe McDoakes director Richard L. Bare, who turned 101 last year. They are friends and appeared together at the Egyptian Theatre as recently as 2012, which can be enjoyed on this video.

CANYON RAIDERS was directed by Lewis D. Collins and filmed in black and white by Ernest Miller.

The Monogram Cowboy Collection Vol. 2 contains five additional Whip Wilson Westerns, along with two quite enjoyable color Rod Cameron Westerns, WAGONS WEST (1952) and FORT OSAGE (1952).

The CANYON RAIDERS print looks and sounds terrific; it could have been filmed just yesterday. While I was somewhat underwhelmed by this particular title, I really appreciate the film history so beautifully preserved by the Warner Archive in these largely entertaining Monogram Cowboy sets.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

The good guys beat the bad guys and nobody pretends it is great art. That the stuff!

11:45 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Pretty much! :) I've definitely got a soft spot for this kind of movie even if it's not as scintillating as others.

Best wishes,

11:53 AM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

I've been looking forward to reading a review by you, Laura, once you had seen Whip Wilson.

Our view of him and the film are very similar actually - that is a pretty enjoyable late-era Monogram B western that would have benefitted from a more charismatic star than dear old Whip! I actually felt Jim Bannon should have been the main star.

I know producer Scotty Dunlap felt that Whip resembled his ealier star Buck Jones. And he did look quite similar (at least when hatted) but there the similarity ended sadly. Buck had charisma in spades and it helped take him to the spot as No. 1 western star at the US box office in the mid-thirties.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

What complimentary thing can one say about Whip Wilson? What what what?

Ahh...he's better than Sunset Carson.

11:36 AM  

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