Sunday, December 07, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Law of the Panhandle (1950) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

The Warner Archive's Monogram Cowboy Collection, Volume 3, is a three-disc set of nine films starring Johnny Mack Brown.

I have now seen and enjoyed all of Brown's films from the Monogram Volume 1 and Volume 2 Collections so I was excited to see more of his films in the third set.

I began with the last movie in the collection, LAW OF THE PANHANDLE (1950), which I was curious to see as leading lady Jane Adams was also in the last Brown Western I reviewed, OUTLAW GOLD (1950).

Adams plays Margie, who is sweet on the sheriff (Riley Hill) contending with a series of local robberies and other acts of terror, including ranchers being burned out of their homes. Unable to solve the problems on his own, the sheriff requests federal help, which arrives in the person of U.S. Marshal Johnny Mack Brown.

Johnny gets to work sorting through the suspects and soon uncovers the motive; the villain is trying to drive out local settlers and buy up their land because a railroad will be passing through nearby.

The movie is par for the course with Brown's Westerns; they may not reach the polished level of a Tim Holt Western, and some of the supporting cast's acting is at times endearingly awkward, but I simply like 'em. Brown makes a genial and reassuring lawman; later in his career he might not have had conventional leading man looks, but the one-time football player very clearly does his own fight scenes much of the time which adds to the realism.

The Warner Archive print is in terrific shape, which made viewing the film a pleasure.

I wrote more about the interesting life of leading lady Jane Adams in my review of OUTLAW GOLD from the Monogram Cowboy Collection, Vol. 1. In the book WESTERNS WOMEN by Boyd Magers she described Johnny Mack Brown as "a real gentleman from the South with all the charm in the world. He was the one I enjoyed the most."

The cast of LAW OF THE PANHANDLE includes Myron Healey and Marshall Reed. This 55-minute film was directed by Lewis D. Collins and photographed in black and white by Harry Neumann.

I'll be reviewing additional Johnny Mack Brown films from this set in the weeks to come, along with Jimmy Wakely and Whip Wilson films from Volumes 1 and 2.

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.


Blogger Jerry E said...

Nice review, Laura, of a film I only saw for the first time within the past year too.

Johnny Mack's later films are often talked down by some as being cheap and lacking in large casts etc (due to being made at the end of the B-western cycle) but personally I am with you. I really like these last gasps generally very much and Johnny was a fine action star as well as charming personality.

3:43 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Jerry!

So glad you enjoyed this one too. I enjoyed hearing your thoughts and knowing that you join me in finding these "last gasps" with the charming Johnny Mack fun to watch.

I agree, they are at a lower level than, say, the Holts, but they are still good. I've seen a couple other "last gasps" like a Wayne Morris film which were pretty poor but I don't feel that way about these Brown films. There's something about them that keeps reeling me in for one after the other! Hope other fans of the Bs will give him a try. :)

Best wishes,

11:55 PM  

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