Saturday, October 19, 2019

Tonight's Movie: A Demon for Trouble (1934) at the Lone Pine Film Festival

A DEMON FOR TROUBLE (1934) was a last-minute addition to our Sunday viewing schedule at this year's Lone Pine Film Festival, and I'm glad we saw it. Although lead actor Bob Steele was the only cast member whose name I recognized, the movie proved to be a satisfying 58 minutes.

The movie was a remake of ARIZONA TERROR (1931) starring Ken Maynard, released just three years previously. Steele plays Bob Worth, a scrappy young cowhand who's sweet on Lita Morton (Gloria Shea).

Lita and her brother Buck (Nick Stuart) sell their desert ranch to Dyer (Walter McGrail), but when Buck heads to town with the money, he's shot and killed. It turns out Dyer is running a scam and has a trio of henchmen who steal back his money.

Bob happens across Buck's body, where he's seen and blamed for the murder; he escapes and is aided by good-natured Mexican bandido Golinda (Don Alvarado) and Golinda's girlfriend Maya (Carmen La Roux). Bob and Golinda hatch a plan to set up Dyer and expose him as both a thief and the architect of Buck's murder.

I tend to think of Bob Steele from his "older roles" playing small parts in films like ISLAND IN THE SKY (1953) or CHARLEY VARRICK (1973) or even something from a little earlier, THE BIG SLEEP (1946).

It was thus quite enjoyable for me to watch him as a "B" Western lead for the first time; I was marveling at how young he was! He was about 27 when this was filmed. My dad reminded me that Steele had gone to Glendale High with John Wayne, who was the same age. I enjoyed Steele's feisty yet good-natured personality, and he also has a nice romantic touch in a couple of scenes.

Shea is a spunky leading lady, and Alvarado makes a charming sort-of bad guy. While A DEMON FOR TROUBLE is not great art, it's everything a "B" Western should be, a solidly told story filmed in interesting Western settings. I liked it quite well.

The film makes great use of Lone Pine's Alabama Hills, with a significant percentage of the film shot outdoors. In addition to the hills, the house known locally as the "Hoppy Cabin" appears as the Mortons' home, before it was known by that name! (The first Hopalong Cassidy film was released the following year, 1935.) Photos of the cabin with its distinctive well can be seen in my posts from 2014 and 2017.

I was particularly curious about the swimming pool seen in the background when Lita is sunbathing; did it exist at the time, or was it a phony pool created for the movie?

A DEMON FOR TROUBLE was directed by Robert F. Hill, who also directed Bill Cody in FRONTIER DAYS (1934), which I saw at last year's festival.

A DEMON FOR TROUBLE was filmed by William Thompson. It was released by Supreme Pictures Corporation.

A DEMON FOR TROUBLE is available on DVD from various public domain companies such as Alpha and The Film Detective. It can also be streamed on Amazon Prime.


Blogger barrylane said...

Don Alvarado is worth knowing about. Hew wife, Ann Page divorced him and married Jack L. Warner. Ann's daughter with Alvarado was Joy Page, who appeared memorably in Casablanca as the girl from Bulgaria done right by Rick, and later in the fifties a lead on several pictures, notably opposite Robert Stack in Bullfighter and the Lady. Alvarado segeud away from acting into production and had a fine career. Joy married William T. Orr head of television production for Jack L

7:04 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Wow, that is terrific info on Don Alvarado! I fondly recall Joy Page in the films you name.

Really glad that not only was this a good film, but it has led to my learning about some unfamiliar actors.

Thanks much for sharing this.

Best wishes,

7:18 PM  
Blogger Jerry Entract said...

That's really interesting info from Barry about Don Alvarado! Good to know.

I love that you took time to watch a little Supreme picture starring the young Bob Steele, Laura. Steele starred in a whole raft of these from c.1930 to 1939 and around 1936-39 they were released by Republic Pictures and got slightly higher production values as a result.
I have great fondness for both Bob Steele and these films. He wasn't known as Battlin' Bob Steele for nothing, performing most of his own stunts.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Wasn't that great background info on Alvarado, Jerry?

I think this film might have been a last-minute addition to the festival schedule, or else I had overlooked it before we got there and reviewed the program! I'm really glad we had the time and did decide to see it, as it was a fun film and opened up a whole new area of "B" Westerns to explore. Looking forward to trying more. Love your thoughts on Steele and his movies.

Best wishes,

9:55 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older