Saloon owner Belle Andrews (Bennett) and unethical businessman Harry Farrel (William) relocate from Chicago to Powder River, Montana, in the wake of Chicago's great fire.
Farrel has plans to grab control of huge swaths of Montana land by dubious legal means, but the sheriff (Ward Bond) is in his pocket financially and backs Farrel's play.
However, Bill Hickok (Cabot) leads settlers as they fight back against Farrel, and Belle may switch her allegiance from her business partner Farrel to Hickok, with whom she's fallen in love.
WILD BILL HICKOK RIDES is an okay Western, nothing particularly special but reasonably entertaining. The 82-minute film is paced well and has a fair amount of action, including the Chicago fire and a train holdup at the outset and a dam breaking near the end. I don't know if the dam sequence was created for this film or borrowed from another, but the special effects as the water spreads are pretty good.
However, the characters are fairly one note, and as she doesn't have enough screen time, Bennett's deep affection for Cabot at the end seems a little abrupt.
The film does have a large cast of talented actors, including Howard Da Silva, Walter Catlett, Russell Simpson, Trevor Bardette, and J. Farrell MacDonald. Belle's chorus girls include Faye Emerson, in an early role, and Julie Bishop; Emerson and Bishop don't have significant speaking roles but are onscreen a fair amount of time.
Betty Brewer, who was about 16 when she filmed her role as Cabot and Simpson's ward, plays a girl who seems to be younger than the actress's actual age, and I must admit I found her "down home" frontier gal a bit tiresome as the movie went on.
WILD BILL HICKOK RIDES was directed by Ray Enright and filmed in black and white by Ted McCord. Location shooting took place at Iverson Ranch in Southern California.
Howard Jackson was credited with the musical score. Late in the film a brief strain of Max Steiner's score for DODGE CITY (1939) wanders onto the soundtrack; DODGE CITY was made by the same studio, hence its availability for "borrowing."
The DVD print is nice, with good sound quality. The disc includes the trailer.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.