Saturday, September 12, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Land Beyond the Law (1937) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

LAND BEYOND THE LAW (1937) is a solid "B" Western which is part of the new Dick Foran Western Collection. The set was just released by the Warner Archive.

LAND BEYOND THE LAW reteams Foran with Linda Perry, his sweet leading lady from CALIFORNIA MAIL (1936). She's also in his short THE SUNDAY ROUND-UP (1936) which is included on another disc in this set.

As the movie begins, Chip Douglas (Foran) is a good-natured but immature cowboy who loves to let off steam in town by shooting the place up. His behavior scandalizes Louise (Perry), who had just rejoined her mother Kate (Irene Franklin) in town after years of absence. Although, thanks to the help of the cowboys, Kate pretends to run a hotel and restaurant, she actually runs a saloon and doesn't want Louise to know.

Chip gradually starts to realize the errors of his ways thanks to Louise, and when his father (Tom Brower) is killed in a range war, Chip steps up to the plate and takes a job as town sheriff.

I really enjoyed CALIFORNIA MAIL, and I think I liked this one even better. Foran takes his character through a believable maturing process in a fairly short time span.

His singing in this is outstanding, calling to mind Nelson Eddy; I was impressed with how long he held the final note in the opening song "The Prairie is My Home." Indeed, when he and the cowboys sing on their way into town, it made me think of sort of a Western version of THE DESERT SONG (1943). Not at all bad for a low-budget "B" movie! The reprise of "The Prairie is My Home" in the final scene, with Chip singing to Louise, left me with a big smile on my face.

The sight of a young, long-haired Wayne Morris singing with the group of cowboys also made me grin. Morris, who was about 23 at the time, plays Foran's sidekick.

All in all the quality of the first two films I've seen in this set has been very good, with capable casts, plenty of action, strong musical sequences, and quite a bit of plot packed into a short running time (54 minutes in this case). These are well-made "B" Westerns which are almost (maybe not quite) on the level of the Westerns George O'Brien and Tim Holt made at RKO.

The cast of this film included familiar faces such as Frank Orth, Harry Woods, Cy Kendall, Glenn Strange, Milton Kibbee, and Edmund (Ed) Cobb, some of whom were also in CALIFORNIA MAIL. Look for Dickie Jones as a rancher's son.

LAND BEYOND THE LAW was directed by B. Reeves Eason, who specialized in "B" movies and shorts. It was filmed by Ted D. McCord and the uncredited L. William O'Connell. (It's worth noting that nearly three decades later, McCord would film the spectacularly great-looking THE SOUND OF MUSIC.) A notable rock location late in the film was shot at Iverson Ranch.

The print of LAND BEYOND THE LAW was for the most part excellent, although there were moments where the print briefly faded out. The stock footage looked rough at times, but no matter.

LAND BEYOND THE LAW shares a disc with two of the other movies in this four-DVD, 12-film collection. The trailer is included for each movie.

Based on the first two films I've seen, this set is a recommended buy for "B" Western fans. I expect to review additional films in the near future and will report if they maintain the same level of quality.

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 from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.

2 Comments:

Blogger john knight said...

Thanks Laura,

Your positive reviews of the two films (so far) in this set have prompted me to order
this item. Furthermore the added attraction of the 12 trailers and the short you
mentioned earlier were also an "arm twister"
I would have ordered this set earlier but I must admit the (for me) uninspired artwork
made me put this item on the "back burner"
I'm afraid the graphics are a plus factor when I chose to purchase something.
I am looking forward to the films in this set directed by Louis King and Ross Lederman,
with Lone Pine locations being an added bonus in the Lederman entry.
It all goes to prove that your lovely reviews are very valuable when deciding to make
a purchase,especially with the huge amount of tempting items out there all trying to
make us part with our cash!

7:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi John!

So glad I could interest you in this set, as I've really enjoyed the first two titles and based on those I have high hopes for those I've yet to watch. I see that MOONLIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE (directed by Lederman) was filmed at June Lake in addition to Lone Pine. That will probably be next on my list to review.

Like you I admit I can be swayed a bit by attractive graphic art (grin), but so far the contents of this set make up for an iffy cover.

Watch for more Foran reviews in the coming days! I appreciate the faith you place in my reviews and hope you'll find yourself in agreement when you start watching the set.

Best wishes,
Laura

9:29 AM  

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