Time to watch another Buck Jones Western!
Tonight's Jones film was a very interesting pre-Code Western romance, RIDIN' FOR JUSTICE (1932).
Jones plays Buck Randall, a happy-go-lucky cowhand who's not serious about very much until he meets Mary Slyde (Mary Doran). Buck and Mary "meet cute" when Buck chooses her home to hide out from Marshal Joseph Slyde (Russell Simpson) -- who happens to be Mary's husband.
Buck hadn't really done much wrong, it's just the marshal wanted Buck to hand over his gun when he was in town and Buck wasn't going to stand for it. This made quite an enemy out of the marshal, a man with a big ego.
Mary had married Joseph to escape a bad home situation with her stepfather, but she went from the frying pan into the fire, stuck in a loveless marriage cooking and cleaning for a much older man who treats her as an idiot housekeeper.
While the marshal is out hunting for Buck, Mary and Buck attend a masked dance where they confess their love for one another, and Mary decides to return East and obtain a divorce. There's an unexpected calamity later that night when Mary shoots lecherous Deputy Frame (Walter Miller) to protect herself, and the death is pinned on Buck, with Mary's husband all too eager to hang him.
With its theme of forbidden love, this was quite a different storyline from your typical Western. The movie probably couldn't have been made just a couple of years later, once enforcement of the Production Code kicked in.
Even so, the storyline is handled delicately, with Buck and Mary agreeing that she must seek a divorce before they can be together. They don't so much as kiss, but the story is all the more powerful and touching for the restrained, romantic way it's told.
This is the fourth Jones film I've seen and to date they've all been well-made winners with unique plots. I'm very much looking forward to seeing more. The wonderful thing about movies is that no matter how many films you've seen, there are always exciting new discoveries to be made and enjoyed.
RIDIN' FOR JUSTICE was directed by D. Ross Lederman from a script by Harold Shumate. It was filmed by Benjamin Kline. The running time is 61 minutes.
I saw RIDIN' FOR JUSTICE thanks to it recently airing on getTV.
Previous reviews of Buck Jones Westerns: UNKNOWN VALLEY (1933), THE MAN TRAILER (1934), and BOSS OF LONELY VALLEY (1937).