There was recently some very good news from the Warner Archive: After a couple-year hiatus, the Archive is releasing Volume 9 in the Monogram Cowboy Collection!
Volume 9, to be released in September, will consist of nine Johnny Mack Brown films released between 1946 and 1948.
I've reviewed numerous films from the first three Monogram volumes of "B" Westerns, most recently THE NAVAJO TRAIL (1945) and FLAME OF THE WEST (1945), and I'm delighted the series is going to continue.
I'll be returning to more films from those early sets in the future, but first I'm going to spend some time dipping into the most recent set, the 2014 Monogram Cowboy Collection, Volume 8.
Volume 8 is a four-disc set which contains Westerns starring not only Johnny Mack Brown but also films with a newer favorite, Buck Jones. In 1941-42 Jones starred with Tim McCoy and Raymond Hatton in Monogram's Rough Riders series, the last films he made before his untimely death in the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston in November 1942.
The Monogram Cowboy Collection Volume 8 contains half a dozen of the Rough Riders movies; based on perusing IMDb, it looks as though Jones, McCoy, and Hatton appeared together in two additional Rough Riders films which aren't part of this set.
Jones's last film, DAWN ON THE GREAT DIVIDE (1942), was another Rough Riders film but Rex Bell completed the lead trio, along with Jones and Hatton, as McCoy had left Hollywood for service in WWII.
The first Rough Riders film is ARIZONA BOUND (1941). I was interested to initially note that while Jones and McCoy were both popular cowboy stars, Jones's name was in somewhat bigger type than McCoy's.
As the story begins, retired Marshal Buck Roberts (Jones) is relaxing on his Arizona ranch when he receives a telegram from Marshal Bat "Madison" asking for his help solving stagecoach robberies in Mesa City. Before long Buck has arrived in the town in question, posing as a cattleman. Also new in town are another cattleman (Hatton) and a black-garbed parson (McCoy), none of whom seem to know each other.
Buck sets to work helping stagecoach line owner Ruth (Luana Walters) and her sweetheart Joe (Dennis Moore), while the parson gets to know Steve Taggert (Tris Coffin), who happens to be the villain behind the robberies.
This is a short and sweet 57-minute Western, nothing especially special except for the star power of Jones and McCoy and the Rough Riders concept, which were enough to keep me entertained. I liked what today we might call the "Avengers Assemble" type plot where the trio of great lawmen come together to solve a crisis, and it's quite satisfying when their true identities are revealed and justice is served.
At movie's end the men go their separate ways, but, as the final card tells us, they will soon reunite. Indeed, the next film has the intriguing title THE GUNMAN FROM BODIE (1941), which I love as Bodie was a silver mining town near where I spend my summer vacations in the High Sierras. It's now a famed ghost town. Alas, I doubt Bodie actually appears in the movie!
A Monument Valley scene appears behind the opening credits; IMDb notes that the movie itself filmed in Prescott, Arizona. Perhaps some of the mountain exteriors were filmed in Prescott, but it seems like a long way to go for a budget film; I assume that the Western town street was filmed in Southern California.
The movie was shot in black and white by Harry Neumann.
ARIZONA BOUND was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet from a screenplay by Adele Buffington (under the name Jess Bowers), based on a story by Oliver Drake. Buffington and Drake's names have both been seen in the credits of many enjoyable "B" Westerns.
The Monogram Cowboy Collection Volume 8 consists of four discs containing three films apiece; as indicated above, the set is split between six Rough Riders films and six starring Johnny Mack Brown. The ARIZONA BOUND print had a few light scratches here and there but for the most part was in very good shape.
Additional reviews of films in this set will be coming in the future.
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.