Friday, July 22, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Boss of Lonely Valley (1937)

I'm very appreciative of my friends John and Maricatrin introducing me to Buck Jones Westerns, as I've been enjoying them very much.

Earlier this year I loved UNKNOWN VALLEY (1933) and especially THE MAN TRAILER (1934), both costarring Cecilia Parker.

Jones's leading lady in BOSS OF LONELY VALLEY (1937) is Muriel Evans, with whom he made a number of films. While not quite as good as the two previously mentioned titles, I still enjoyed BOSS OF LONELY VALLEY quite well.

BOSS OF LONELY VALLEY was produced by Jones for Universal. It's a nicely made film with a good story and attractive locations.

Jones plays Steve Hanson, whose sweetheart Retta (Evans) is being cheated out of her ranch by Jake Wagner (Walter Miller). That may sound like the stuff of typical Western melodrama, but there's an atomospheric subplot about the murder of the local parson; how many times do you see a climactic shootout take place as an organist plays "Abide With Me" while a church bell rings? Great stuff.

Some of the film, perhaps the town set, was filmed in Newhall here in Southern California, but the scenic river locations were apparently filmed outside Kernville in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

I love watching a movie like this and suddenly realizing that Retta's wagon driver is Hank Worden. Such familiar faces make it feel like spending time with old friends.

My only quibble was I have no idea what "Lonely Valley" referred to! Apparently the title came from a novel by Forrest Brown which was the basis of Frances Guihan's screenplay.

It should also be noted this is one of those odd Westerns where the women wear 1930s style dresses but everyone rides on horseback, without a car or telephone in sight.

BOSS OF LONELY VALLEY was directed by Ray Taylor. It was filmed by John Hickson and Allen Q. Thompson. The running time is 60 minutes.

BOSS OF LONELY VALLEY was shown a few days ago on the Starz Encore Westerns Channel.

I'm looking forward to checking out more Buck Jones Westerns!


Blogger Jerry E said...

Hi Laura!
I am naturally delighted that you are enjoying the westerns of Buck Jones, one of my long-time special favourites.(I wonder if Blake is familiar with and/or enjoys these - they are some way off his favoured 50s territory of course).
Generally Jones' films for Columbia 1930-34 are considered his strongest and those for Universal, many produced by himself,(1934-38) more varied in quality. This film is in the latter group.
Keep 'em coming!

12:30 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I appreciate that feedback, Jerry, I'll keep the Columbia vs. Universal in mind as I watch them! I can see why fans such as yourself are enthused. They feel pretty close to my favorite O'Brien and Holt Westerns in terms of the quality.

Best wishes,

9:34 AM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

Hi Laura, I'm also delighted that you're enjoying Buck's movies. I have this one, but haven't seen it yet... thanks for the review! It's always fun to spot Hank Worden, and Walter Miller is a very familiar face as well. Plus, that climactic shootout sounds great.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Maricatrin, great to hear from you! I hope you'll enjoy this one too. I was kinda mesmerized by that final shootout. :)

Looking forward to more of Buck's films soon!

Best wishes,

10:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am looking for a dvd or even vhs of BOSS OF LONELY VALLEY w/Buck Jones and Muriel Evans. I love this movie, but it's the only one I cannot purchase. Can anyone help? Please?

7:40 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Karen,

BOSS OF LONELY VALLEY is shown on cable from time to time on Starz/Encore Westerns, which is how I saw it. If you or someone you know has that channel watch for it to return!

Best wishes,

11:14 AM  

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