Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Guns of the Pecos (1937) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

GUNS OF THE PECOS (1937) is a very enjoyable title in the 12-film Dick Foran Western Collection, available from the Warner Archive.

Dick plays Steve Ainslee, an undercover Texas Ranger trying to get the goods on a corrupt judge (Robert Middlemass) and cattle rustlers. Steve and his partner Jeff (Eddie Acuff) come to the aid of lovely Alice (Anne Nagel), whose father (Gordon Hart) was killed by the rustlers.

Of the five films from the set seen to date, the later titles have been the strongest. The series seems to have found its groove by 1937. GUNS OF THE PECOS has a little bit of everything, including action, romance, and music. It makes a pleasant 56 minutes for fans of "B" Westerns.

One of Foran's big numbers is the melodic "The Prairie is My Home," which was also used in the same year's LAND BEYOND THE LAW (1937). I didn't mind this song turning up in a second Foran Western, as I love to hear him sing it!

The film's one weak link is Middlemass as the judge, who recites his lines so awkwardly that I suspect a junior high drama student would have been more convincing.

Lovely Anne Nagel had a rather tragic life. Early in 1937, the same year GUNS OF THE PECOS was released, her husband of one year, actor Ross Alexander, committed suicide. Anne was just 21 at the time. She continued to act throughout the rest of the '30s and '40s, appearing again with Foran in the "B" Western THE DEVIL'S SADDLE LEGION (1937) and the Western serial WINNERS OF THE WEST (1940).

Nagel had a small but excellent role in one of her last films, ARMORED CAR ROBBERY (1950). She played Marsha, widow of a murdered cop, sharing a memorably moving scene with Charles McGraw. Nagel died at the age of 50 in 1966.

Fay Holden appears as Alice's aunt. I was intrigued that Holden was billed as Gaby Fay, the name she used in her first few movies; this was her last film billed under that name. Later in 1937 Holden played Andy Hardy's mother in YOU'RE ONLY YOUNG ONCE (1937), and the rest was MGM movie history.

The cast of GUNS OF THE PECOS also includes Bill Elliott (billed as Gordon Elliott), Joseph Crehan, Milton Kibbee, Glenn Strange, and Monte Montague.

GUNS OF THE PECOS was directed by Noel M. Smith. It was filmed in black and white by Ted McCord. The outdoor scenes were filmed on a Southern California movie ranch.

Previous reviews in the Dick Foran Western Collection: MOONLIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE (1935), CALIFORNIA MAIL (1936), THE CHEROKEE STRIP (1937), and LAND BEYOND THE LAW (1937).

The Warner Archive DVD is a very nice print. The trailer is included.

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 Maricatrin said...

Is this the one where Eddie Acuff turned into the co-hero? ("what you want and what you'll get are two different things." Shane borrowed that line later!)

Anne Nagel is indelibly printed in my mind as the loyal, wise-cracking Miss Case in Universal's two Green Hornet serials, which I saw as a child (on VHS.) Sorry to hear about her sad personal life.

I've seen several of Foran's westerns, and recall that they were pretty good. I don't entirely buy him as a 'cowboy' singer, but if I think of his song interludes as "the Irish Tenors out west," they're quite enjoyable;-)

9:26 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Yes, that's the one! Foran leaves Acuff protecting Anne Nagel and her aunt while he rides off for emergency help, and Acuff faces down the "hanging judge" when he shows up. Good stuff!

I'd like to see some of her work in serials!

I'm really enjoying these. They're not quite at a Holt or O'Brien level, but they're good enough that I look forward to pulling the set out and trying the next one!

Best wishes,
Laura

10:04 AM  

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