Monday, May 04, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Cyclone on Horseback (1941)

It had been quite a while since I've watched a Tim Holt Western, so it was great to relax this evening with the 60-minute CYCLONE ON HORSEBACK (1941).

Although I generally prefer the postwar Tim Holt films costarring Richard Martin, I also really enjoy Ray Whitley, who made a number of prewar RKO Westerns with both Holt and George O'Brien. Whitley was a fine Western singer and also has a nice screen presence, and he's a real asset to films such as CYCLONE ON HORSEBACK.

In this entry Tim, Ray, and Lee "Lasses" White play Stan, Smokey, and Whopper, who contend with several devious, greedy men in a small Western town who are trying to disrupt Jeff Corbin's (Dennis Moore) contract to string telephone wires across the mountains.

When Jeff is shot, his sister Mary (Marjorie Reynolds, last seen here in BAD MEN OF TOMBSTONE) persuades Stan and his men to finish stringing the wire themselves.

That's a simplistic description of a movie which has a lot more story than some "B" Westerns, as plotting by various characters results in horses, bonds, and money constantly changing hands, while there are also horseback chases and gunfights aplenty.

A particularly exciting action scene has Stan and Mary tossing burning dynamite sticks out of a wagon while they're begin chased. Another action sequence ends with Mary being dumped into a muddy pond; I suspect that might not have been Reynolds' favorite day on the shooting schedule!

Holt and Reynolds, who were around 22 and 23 when this was filmed, have a nice feisty sparring relationship which is fun to watch. The same year they also starred in DUDE COWBOY (1941). The following year Marjorie would costar in HOLIDAY INN (1942) with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

Whitley has the chance to sing a trio of tunes he cowrote with Fred Rose, including "Blue Nightfall," sung around the campfire. Musical moments like that bring something a little extra-special to a lower-budget Western such as this one.

CYCLONE ON HORSEBACK was directed by Edward Killy. It was shot on Southern California movie ranches by Harry J. Wild. Somewhat unusually for the Holt Westerns, the exterior scenes in the camp were shot in a soundstage.

CYLONE ON HORSEBACK is available on DVD in a fine print as part of the Tim Holt Western Classics Collection Vol. 4.

There's a trailer on the Turner Classic Movies site.


Blogger Jerry E said...

I've not seen this one, Laura. I too prefer the post-war Holt westerns several of which I rate as some of the best series westerns ever made.
Having said that though, there's absolutely nothing wrong with Tim's earlier films either and Ray Whitley was a very talented and pleasing presence in many of them.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Agreed, Jerry!! :)

Best wishes,

11:24 AM  

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