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Code of the Saddle (1947)
Johnny Mack Brown rides the vengeance trail !
Johnny Mack Brown, the former gridiron star, headlines this standard Post WWII oater filmed at Gene Autry's Melody Ranch. Brown and grizzled saddle-pal Ray Hatton find themselves in the middle of a blazing Range War...... with no resolution in sight !
The acting here is pretty standard, but Brown is as personable and heroic as ever. Hatton makes a fine sidekick, meshing well with the aging Johnny Mack Brown. The film is unique in presenting a strong, admirable female lead.
While this is not classic cinema, The banter between the lead characters is quite fun and not a bad way to spend a lazy afternoon .......
A gem of an episode
This touching episode of the beloved western series was one of the best and most memorable of the entire run.In this thought-provoking story, Ms. Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck) is kidnapped by an outlaw gang, while visiting a school. She is mistaken for the teacher, and the gangs leader is not seeking ransom, but a tutor !
Harold Stone was superb as the chief "villain". His performance is both touching and believable. He and the great Barbara Stanwyck have fantastic chemistry together. The conclusion, while expected, was still very powerful.
For those folks who think all westerns are simple-minded, check this classic story out. One of the best episodes ever !
Trail of the Yukon (1949)
The great white north ................
This 1949 western features Kirby "Sky King" Grant and his faithful canine servant "Chinook". Grant is a heroic member of the Mounties on the trail of bank Robbers who ripped off a crooked Banker/Claim Jumper.Kirby and his faithful sidekick rush to the rescue and save the day !
This film was a standard programmer, with good action but few surprises. It reminded me a little of the Sgt Preston of the Yukon series. Kirby Grant was very convincing in his role. Look fast for Jay "Tonto" Silverheels in a small role here.
Fans of Call of the Wild or similar works will enjoy this adventure film. It is a good way to pass an hour of leisure time. Enjoy !
The Swiss Family Robinson (1975)
Memorable TV Adaptation ..........
I still remember watching this fun version of the classic novel. In many ways, I enjoyed this one even more than the Disney version. Martin Milner, John Vernon, John Crawford and the cast do an admirable job---even with the limited budget! Cameron Mitchell was outstanding in his role !
The story is,of course, timeless. A family finds itself stranded on a deserted (?) island -- and is forced to adapt and overcome the harsh environment. Fans of Castaway, Lost, Robinson Crusoe, Lost in Space or Mysterious Island will find this genre film surprisingly effective.
It is a great family film, suitable for all ages !
Stagecoach Driver (1951)
A great B-movie cast .....
In this 1951 cowboy saga stars Whip Wilson and Jim Bannon. Bannon and his brother own a stagecoach line, but the brother is murdered and Bannon is framed for it ! As usual, the whip-wielding Wilson comes in to get to the bottom of all these shenanigans......
I enjoyed this film, despite a pretty standard plot. Whip Wilson was surprisingly effective and Jim Bannon had one of his better roles here. John "Lone Ranger" Hart even appears in a supporting role. This was a fun film, one that fans of the western programmers should enjoy.
Of all Whip Wilson's films, this one stands out as one that is a must-see............
Border Rangers (1950)
A tale of border revenge & redemption ......
Don "Red" Barry stars in this 1950s shoot-em-up that offers action, decent casting and a well-paced production. Barry is a Ranger who has enlisted to seek revenge for the death of his brother. His Captain sends him south of the border to lure the murderous swine into a well-planned trap.
Lyle Talbot co-stars as the Ranger Captain and the always enjoyable Wally Vernon appears in the comical sidekick role! Red Barry was an intense actor, always believable as the action hero (despite his short stature). This was one of a string of fine Red Barry films from this era. An enjoyable programmer ........
The Road West (1966)
A short trip ...........
This short-lived 1960's series was a cross between Wagon Train & How The West Was Won (though not as good ...) . A band of pioneers trek westward from Kansas to settle in the frontier west. The series featured the great James Gammon, Strother Martin and the prolific western character actor Roy Roberts. George C. Scott also appears here!
This series is rarely seen today,but my recollection of it is clear. The show was average, with great casting but a fairly standard storyline. Fans of the interesting cast might want to check this one out, but the same plot was done much better by other series.
Recommended only for die-hard western fans .
Female Artillery (1973)
A fun 70's TV Western ........
This 1973 television western features the kind of amiable western film-making common at that time. A fine cast is on hand, including Dennis Weaver, Ida Lupino and Albert Salmi ---- all veterans of many western roles. The story here involves a fleeing outlaw who links up with a troupe of traveling ladies , hiding his loot with them. As might be expected, all sorts of complications then take place.
Dennis Weaver was very good in this film, obviously enjoying another well-written western role. From Gunsmoke to McCloud, he was always at home in the saddle. This is a good, but rarely shown western film. Catch it if you can !
Stranger at My Door (1956)
Good Family entertainment .....
MacDonald Carey made several entertaining low budget western films in the 1950's, before gaining lasting fame as the lead on the soap opera "Days of our Lives". In this western with a message, Carey finds himself in a saga of good vs. evil, faith vs. worldliness. An escaping convict and a peaceful minister do battle for the salvation of the felons soul! Both men seem equally sure of their eventual victory.
I enjoyed this film and feel it was well suited to Mr. Carey's abilities. It was also fun to see the casting of Slim Pickens (What would westerns have done without him ?). Even though this storyline was recycled, this one is still very much worth viewing.
Thundering Caravans (1952)
Two Rockies for the price of one !!
Allan "Rocky" Lane stars in this 1952 B-western from the closing days of the program films. Lane had risen to fame earlier as the Red Ryder, then starred in this western series. This film concerns stolen ore from a local mine, crooked politics and yellow journalism. Compared to most other films of the series, I feel the plot here was more interesting and well written.
Co-starring as the classic villain is the prolific Roy Barcroft (who often had a higher salary than the lead actors !). Also on hand in this film is Richard Crane, who starred as Space Ranger Rocky Jones in an early TV Sci-Fi series !