Sunday, March 13, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Trouble in Sundown (1939) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

TROUBLE IN SUNDOWN (1939) is a strong entry in the George O'Brien Western Collection, just released by the Warner Archive.

TROUBLE IN SUNDOWN kicks off in stylish fashion as a night watchman notices something amiss with the door at the local bank; indeed, three "black hats," including Dusty (Ward Bond), are robbing the safe. Next morning the banker, John Cameron (Howard Hickman) opens his safe and has more than one nasty surprise waiting.

Rancher Clint Bradford (O'Brien), who had money in the bank and is sweet on Cameron's daughter June (Rosalind Keith), springs into action to help clear Cameron's name. Detective work by Clint and his pal Whopper (Chill Wills) leads to a clever reveal of the culprits.

This is a well-plotted and engaging O'Brien entry. Among other things, Western fans will relish a good fistfight in the street between O'Brien and Bond, a decade before these longtime John Ford associates costarred in Ford's FORT APACHE (1948).

Ray Whitley is once again along for the ride as O'Brien's singing sidekick. He's backed by the Phelps Brothers, who were previously seen in O'Brien's PAINTED DESERT (1938) and THE RENEGADE RANGER (1938).

TROUBLE IN SUNDOWN is set in that confusing "Roy Rogers Never Never Land" I've referred to recently, that strange Western setting inexplicably mixing the new and the old. Everyone rides horses and drives buckboards, living in a quaint-looking old Western town, yet the heroine and other women are in modern '30s dress -- right alongside at least one woman in a "pioneer" dress and sunbonnet.

TROUBLE IN SUNDOWN begins, unusually for a Warner Archive release, with a card explaining that it was brought to DVD using the best surviving 35mm and 16mm elements. I had heard on a recent Warner Archive podcast that one of the films had to be completed with ten minutes of 16mm footage, and indeed, there are a couple sections which are noticeably darker and of poorer visual quality than the rest of the film, although the sound is fine. Kudos to the Warner Archive for making sure this excellent O'Brien Western could be seen by today's audiences despite this problem.

TROUBLE IN SUNDOWN was directed by David Howard and filmed by Harry J. Wild. The supporting cast includes Cy Kendall and Monte Montague. The film runs 60 minutes.

Previous reviews of films in this set: LAWLESS VALLEY (1938), RACKETEERS OF THE RANGE (1939), and TIMBER STAMPEDE (1939).

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 Jerry E said...

Just found out, Laura, of the death on 9 March of Robert Horton, aged 91. Although a versatile and talented actor and singer, it was his role as scout Flint McCullough that made him a household name in "WAGON TRAIN" and he was just excellent in it. Another favourite has left us......

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