Monday, April 21, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Border Patrolman (1936)

THE BORDER PATROLMAN is an engaging little "B" movie starring George O'Brien.

O'Brien, playing the title character, is hired by wealthy Jeremiah Huntley (William P. Carlton) to keep an eye on his spoiled granddaughter Patricia (Polly Ann Young) while they're staying at a desert resort.

Patricia, a bored wild child constantly getting into trouble, is involved with Courtney Maybrook (LeRoy Mason), not realizing that all he's interested in is her money -- and that he's also using her to smuggle diamonds across the border to Mexico.

This 60-minute spin on the "Taming of the Shrew" theme is pretty entertaining, even watching it in a murky YouTube print. Aside from the fact it stars the always-enjoyable O'Brien, the film is of note for a couple of additional reasons.

Leading lady Polly Ann Young was Loretta Young's older sister, and there are moments she looks and sounds quite like her more famous sister. This was one of just under three dozen films Polly Ann made before she retired from the screen in 1941. She was the leading lady in a number of "B" Westerns including THE MAN FROM UTAH (1934) with John Wayne.

Much of the film was shot at a striking desert resort. IMDb provided the information that the movie was shot at Death Valley, and with some further research via Google Images I deduced that it was the Inn at Furnace Creek which opened in 1927.

I very much wish this film were available in a better print which would allow clearer looks at both the lead actors and the resort!

THE BORDER PATROLMAN was directed by David Howard, who directed many of O'Brien's Westerns.

The supporting cast includes Smiley Burnette, Mary Doran, Al Hill, and Charles Coleman (as, what else, a butler!).

It's interesting to note that a New York Times review of the day referred to Polly Ann as "the most spirited of Hollywood's Young sisters." While regretting that O'Brien wasn't appearing in another SUNRISE (1927), the reviewer says of O'Brien that "he goes ably about his accustomed screen routine of taming a fractious female and bringing the lawless to justice."


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