MOONLIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE (1935) is the earliest entry in the 12-film Dick Foran Western Collection, available from the Warner Archive.
This 1935 Western is definitely creakier than the pair of engaging films from this set which I've previously viewed, CALIFORNIA MAIL (1936) and LAND BEYOND THE LAW (1937).
MOONLIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE is an old-fashioned melodrama, with the handsome cowboy saving the pretty young widow (Sheila Mannors, also known as Sheila Bromley) and her little boy (Dickie Jones) from men who want to steal her ranch. Good ol' Joe Sawyer and Robert Barrat head up the bad guys.
That said, this is a good-natured film which I enjoyed spending 63 minutes with despite these flaws. It's fast-paced entertainment with some nice moments scattered throughout. For instance, one of the fun aspects is that young Bill Elliott, billed as Gordon, shows up midway through as a good guy who helps Foran.
I especially loved that the movie was filmed up in the Sierras at June Lake by Fred Jackman Jr.; some of the scenes are just beautiful. When Foran sang the title song at the end with the lake sparkling in the background, I was a happy camper.
IMDb says the movie was also filmed in Lone Pine. While the Alabama Hills weren't in evidence, I suspect some of the ranch or medicine show scenes might have been filmed somewhere in the Lone Pine area such as Anchor Ranch.
The wind rustles in the trees pretty strongly during some of the location scenes; I always enjoy things like that in "B" Westerns, as it gives the viewer more of a sense of how it must have felt standing there in front of the camera 80 years ago!
Scroll down the page at Western Clippings for a behind-the-scenes shot of the lead actors and director taken on the location set.
MOONLIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE was directed by D. Ross Lederman.
Additional cast members include George E. Stone (later of the Boston Blackie series), Joe King, Milton Kibbee, and Raymond Brown. Keep your eyes open for Glenn Strange as a henchman and Joan Barclay as a saloon girl.
The print looked very nice, and the DVD includes the trailer. The dozen films in this Warner Archive set are spread across four discs; so far I've had three of the four discs in my player and all nine films had trailers.
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.