Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Tonight's Movie: California Mail (1936) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

CALIFORNIA MAIL (1936) is an engaging little Western musical starring Dick Foran. It's part of the new Dick Foran Western Collection, available from the Warner Archive.

The Dick Foran Western Collection is a 12-film set, with all of the titles having release dates between 1935 and 1937. I randomly picked CALIFORNIA MAIL to start with, since it's set in my home state.

The movie starts off on a creaky note, with an opening song followed by an action sequence with the speed cranked up a bit as Indians chase Pony Express rider Bill Harkins (Foran).

After the rather hokey start the movie settles into an enjoyable rhythm, with a well-plotted storyline, some music, some romance, and some action. Bill and his father (Tom Brower) try to bid on a stagecoach contract to carry the mail, but they're thwarted at every turn by the evil Roy (Ed Cobb). Roy is especially angry that Bill has caught the eye of Mary (Linda Perry), who Roy considers to be "his" girl.

It had all been done before and would be done again, but no matter. "B" Western fans will find this an enjoyable 55 minutes. Foran is a sturdy hero possessed of a tenor singing voice and the amazing "Smoke the Wonder Horse."

Perry, who also costars with Foran in LAND BEYOND THE LAW (1937), is sweet and charming; she retired from films in 1939.

And how can a Western fan not love a movie where the hero and heroine go to a 4th of July square dance and the caller is Roy Rogers, backed by the Sons of the Pioneers? The smile that gave me was worth watching the movie in and of itself.

CALIFORNIA MAIL was directed by Noel M. Smith and filmed by Ted D. McCord. The screenplay was cowritten by Roy Chanslor, who wrote a number of films I've enjoyed.

The supporting cast includes Milton Kibbee, Jim Farley, Wilfred Lucas, and Glenn Strange.

The print was in very good shape, and the Warner Archive disc includes the trailer. The dozen films in the set are spread across four discs.

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 from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


Blogger john k said...

Well Laura,
You have certainly "sold" me on this one.
There is just so much out there at the moment but your review
sounds like this is a "must have" especially with your comments on
the good picture quality.
May I ask...are there trailers for all 12 movies on this set?
I have never seen a Dick Foran B Western but have always wanted to.
The two films that interest me are SONG OF THE SADDLE because it's directed
by Louis King who I really like. I'm also very interested in MOONLIGHT ON THE
PRAIRIE directed by Ross Lederman another great B Movie director. That one
also has the added attraction of featuring William Elliott and being shot in
Lone Pine.

Next stop for Laura on the B Western trail......Buck Jones?? :)

6:24 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi John! Thanks for mentioning the titles you're most interested in. I'll make a note of those, and I also hope to soon watch LAND BEYOND THE LAW which has the same leading lady, Linda Perry, and costars Wayne Morris.

I haven't yet put each disc in for a look, but the three-film disc which included CALIFORNIA MAIL included the trailer for each of the films.

Buck Jones is on the list for sure! :)

Best wishes,

7:56 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

John, I just read that every film in the set has trailers, and there is also a short, THE SUNDAY ROUND-UP.

I'll be reviewing more films from this collection soon!

Best wishes,

8:33 PM  

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