Monday, December 11, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Renegades of the West (1932) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

RENEGADES OF THE WEST (1932) is a Tom Keene Western just released by the Warner Archive.

Over time I've grown to enjoy Keene. The first film I saw him in, COME ON DANGER! (1932), was a disappointment, but I liked him quite well in CROSS FIRE (1933), which was also a Warner Archive release, and also in DESERT GOLD (1936).

RENEGADES OF THE WEST is a flawed film, but thanks to Keene and leading lady Betty Furness I nonetheless found it an enjoyable 55 minutes.

Keene plays Tom Bagby, who has recently done a stint in prison as cover so he can join a gang of rustlers while looking for his father's murderer.

Doctor's daughter Mary (Furness), who's initially attracted to Tom, gives him the cold shoulder when she learns he's an ex-con, but she gradually warms up again.

Tom meanwhile finds himself growing close to the number one suspect in his father's death, Curly Bogard (Rockcliffe Fellowes).

The movie has two annoying strikes against it: Keene spends the first few minutes of the movie coughing constantly, so his character has an excuse to visit the doctor (Rosco Ates)...and said doctor stutters constantly. The first 10 minutes or so of the movie are filled with nonstop coughing and stuttering, which doesn't make for a very enjoyable listening experience!

After that Ates's character's screen time is reduced and the movie picks up the pace. The screenplay by Albert S. Le Vino, based on a story by Frank Richardson Pierce, has some unusual aspects, notably the hero pausing mid-movie to judge...a beautiful baby contest!? Even more unexpected, when an orphaned baby (Roland Southern) is entered in the contest, Tom impulsively announces he's adopting him!

Tom's relationship with Curly is also quite interesting; they constantly attempt to one-up the other, whether it's shooting, riding, or fighting, with the winner saying "I'll teach you how." Curly becomes a father figure to Tom, causing Tom to feel quite conflicted since he believes Curly is probably responsible for his father's death.

The multigenerational thread connecting Curly, Tom, and the baby is an effective storytelling device; while not a perfect "B" Western, the film's positive aspects overcome the annoyances, building to a satisfying and touching conclusion. I'm hoping that the Warner Archive will release more of Keene's films in the future.

Furness is a spunky leading lady. Look for John Ford Stock Company stalwart Jack Pennick among the cowboys.

RENEGADES OF THE WEST was directed by Casey Robinson and filmed by Allan Siegler.

The Warner Archive print is good, especially considering the film's age. There are no extras.

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 or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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