Thursday, April 08, 2021

Tonight's Movie: O'Malley of the Mounted (1936)

It's been a while since I've watched a George O'Brien Western, so tonight I watched O'MALLEY OF THE MOUNTED (1936), released by 20th Century-Fox.

A group of outlaws are conducting raids along the Canada-U.S. border. Constable O'Malley (O'Brien) proposes to his superior that he go undercover to solve the case.

O'Malley, now known as Duke Kinnard, is thrown in jail with gang member Bud Hyland (James Bush). They conveniently are able to escape, and O'Malley then successfully infiltrates the gang, headed by Red Jagger (Stanley Fields).

O'Malley/Kinnard suggests a plan for the gang to rob a Canadian bank, where of course the Mounties will be waiting to make arrests.

There are minor complications in the film's 59 minutes, but the most serious issue is that O'Malley is attracted to Hyland's sister Edie (Irene Ware), who of course thinks he's an unscrupulous outlaw.

I watched the film in a fairly rough public domain print which didn't have the greatest soundtrack, but any print is better than no print when it comes to a George O'Brien movie!

That said, while O'Brien's "B" Westerns are typically quite strong, this one is relatively minor. The print didn't help matters, but I think even if it had been crystal clear, the story's simply not as well crafted as the typical O'Brien Western.

I particularly didn't feel much of a connection between O'Brien and Ware's characters; O'Brien had good chemistry with most of his leading ladies, but he and Ware fail to strike sparks.

Still, an hour spent with an O'Brien Western -- or in this case, a "Northerner" -- is always a good time for me, and I'm also always happy to watch a "Mountie" film.

The movie was directed by David Howard, who worked on a majority of O'Brien's Westerns throughout the '30s. Howard was just 45 when he passed away in 1941, the year after O'Brien left the screen for service in World War II.

O'MALLEY OF THE MOUNTED was filmed by Frank B. Good. The screenplay by Daniel Jarrett and Frank Howard Clark was based on a story by William S. Hart, who starred in a silent version of the story in 1921.


Anonymous Bert Greene said...

"O'Malley" is only average at best, and one of the weakest of that Sol Lesser produced batch. O'Brien and Irene Ware fare much better in "Whispering Smith Speaks" (1935), which is a breezy little gem. And, best of all, "When a Man's a Man" (1935), which I adore, and has long been one of my very favorite b-westerns.

O'Brien's earlier Fox films are exceptionally good, with entries like the creepy "Mystery Ranch" (1932) with a great menace in Charles Middleton, and the terrific remake of Tom Mix's "Riders of the Purple Sage" (1931). Well-produced stuff, closer to "A" budget material than later series westerns. Heck, I'm also quite partial to the more easy-going "Robbers Roost" (1933) with Maureen O'Sullivan, and "Smoke Lightning" (1933) with Nell O'Day. Great little westerns. "A Holy Terror" (1931) is also one worth catching, with its modern-western setting providing some interesting backdrops, along with a young Humphrey Bogart providing some villainy.

6:06 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Bert,

I liked WHISPERING SMITH SPEAKS slightly better than this one, though I still thought it on the weaker side...I'd forgotten Irene Ware was in that one also. I liked MYSTERY RANCH. I haven't seen his RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE yet but did see the sequel, THE RAINBOW TRAIL.

I have ROBBERS' ROOST and SMOKE LIGHTNING, those would be good ones to pull out. Thanks for the suggestions!

Best wishes,

5:09 PM  

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