Monday, August 08, 2016

Tonight's Movie: The Navajo Trail (1945) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Last weekend I enjoyed FLAME OF THE WEST (1945) so well that I promptly returned to the Warner Archive's Monogram Cowboy Collection, Volume 3. I watched another Johnny Mack Brown film released the same year, THE NAVAJO TRAIL (1945).

THE NAVAJO TRAIL was based on a story by Adele Buffington, who wrote the screenplay for FLAME OF THE WEST. Compared to the more intricately plotted FLAME OF THE WEST, Frank Young's NAVAJO TRAIL script is simply a standard issue 56-minute "B" Western, but I found it congenial company.

Brown plays Marshal Nevada McKenzie, who's on his way to visit his old friend, Marshal Sandy Hopkins (Raymond Hatton), when the two men end up in the thick of dealing with a band of crooks stealing horses from the Navajo Indians. One of the men, Slim Ramsey (Raphael Bennett), is also responsible for the murder of a Texas Ranger (Jasper Palmer).

McKenzie and Hopkins work undercover to infiltrate the gang and bring them to justice, aided by young Ranger Paul Mason (Riley Hill) and Paul's sweetheart, Mary (Jennifer Holt), who is the daughter of the murdered ranger.

This is a very straightforward little Western, but it's fast-paced and there are some nice character moments, such as Nevada, undercover as a rustler, unable to contain his amusement at Sandy playing a drunken horse thief.

It's fun to spend time with this familiar Western cast, also including Jennifer Holt, who may have made as many Westerns as her brother Tim.

THE NAVAJO TRAIL was directed by Howard Bretherton and filmed in black and white by Marcel Le Picard.

In addition to FLAME OF THE WEST, I've reviewed LAW OF THE PANHANDLE (1950) from this collection. Based on watching the first third of the films in the set, I'd class this volume as a collection "B" Western fans will want to pick up.

The print was excellent. There are no extras.

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 at the Warner Archive website.


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