Lawless Range (1935) Poster

(1935)

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5/10
Baritone Cowboy
jldmp117 June 2006
What's unusual here for the period is the construction of the villain's identity. Most 'big boss' bad guys were openly introduced on screen and given excessive, cartoonish proportions. Here, the boss is playing a double role, one blending within the group of good guys/victims, the other unseen and disguised until the climax. The effect is enforced by the lack of close-up face images.

Aside from that, most of this is ordinary - Wayne as the irony-free hero who gets the girl. His voice is overdubbed by a professional baritone (a tenor would have been more convincing) in the obligatory musical segment, which pushed audio splicing technology to its limits.

The gunfight scenes are nothing special. But there are two key action sequences, the first being a dive into a lake and the ensuing escape. Also, Wayne jumps from horseback to horseback to unmount the opposing rider - a scene that appears to be a rough template for Lucas' speeder chase in "Return of the Jedi".
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5/10
"If you fellas are through with your little necktie party, why I'll be on my way."
classicsoncall7 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Lawless Range" has all the look and feel of John Wayne's Lone Star Westerns, but this one came from Republic Pictures during the same era. Adding to the tone of the film is the direction of Robert North Bradbury, who also made some of the Lone Star pictures; one of his trademarks is the quick flash forward technique used once in an early sequence.

The formula pretty much remains the same too, this time Wayne's character takes on two identities. He's John Middleton posing as John Allen, working undercover for the local marshal (Jack Curtis) to expose a crooked bunch known as the Butch Martin gang. Interestingly, we never see Butch Martin, presumably it was a phony name to keep the real brains behind the gang under wraps. That would have been banker Carter (Frank McGlynn Jr.), who's trying to use late mortgage pressure to put the local ranchers under.

You have to give credit to some of these early Westerns for the innovative stunt work done with men and horses alike. There were a few incredible mounted horse spills in the movie that make you wonder how they could have done that. There's also a great sequence where Wayne's character takes off after two villains on horseback, and catching up to the first, jumps on the henchman's horse knocking him off while continuing to chase the second. If you rewind and pay real close attention, you can distinguish the difference in body build between Wayne and stunt man Yakima Canutt as the exchange is made. Yak portrayed the nominal leader of the Martin gang, every now and then mentioning he had to check in with the 'chief'.

I got a kick out of the scene where Middleton reports to the sheriff on the ambush prepared by the bad guys at Shotgun Pass. The marshal just happens to have a couple dozen men hanging around just ready to ride into action.

As an added treat, John Wayne is shown singing a couple tunes in the course of the film, but the voice is obviously dubbed in, otherwise we're listening to a low, deep falsetto. In one instance he serenades the film's romantic interest, Ann Mason (Sheila Mannors). Here again we pick up a mainstay from Wayne's Lone Star Westerns, as the movie ends, he's seen getting cozy with his girl for the final frame.
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4/10
If You Can't Figure Out Who The Villain Is...........................
bkoganbing9 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure how John Wayne got to be working for Republic in this one shot deal. He was with Monogram at the time this was made and it even has some of the cast that was associated with his B westerns from Mongram like Yakima Canutt and Earl Dwire. Nevertheless this is a Republic production and I guess the Duke really did like the sound of that word because he soon did sign with that studio long term.

In Lawless Range John Wayne is the son of a friend of someone having some real outlaw problems on his ranch. Wayne goes to investigate and along the way picks up a Deputy Marshal's badge and an undercover identity of a wanted outlaw.

This is a particularly vicious group of outlaws. There not into just rustling a few steers, they've put up a blockade and want to starve all the ranchers out of the valley. If however you can't figure out that it's the town banker Frank McGlyn, Jr. who's the villain of the piece than you haven't seen too many B westerns from the Thirties. John Wayne in fact says it, he had McGlyn pegged from the gitgo and any aficionado of the B western will agree.

This is also one of those few westerns where Wayne was given a singing cowboy role. In an obviously dubbed voice Wayne warbles a few forgettable cowboy ditties. Now granted I'm seeing the film 71 years after it was made and John Wayne's voice and mannerism are universally known. But back in 1935 when he wasn't a national icon, yet I can't believe anybody thought that was his real singing voice.

I guess since this was his first film for Republic pictures Lawless Range has a historic significance of some note, but only dedicated fans of the Duke should bother with it.
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8/10
Early John Wayne Western
nobizinf11 August 1999
An early b/w "two reeler" John Wayne western. It is a fun shoot 'em up, that is pure escapism. Don't look for a deep meaning. The stunt work in these early John Wayne/Yakima Canutt films is the equal of any, including those films being made today.
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For Those Who Can't Get Enough Of The Duke
FightingWesterner15 June 2014
John Wayne sets out to aid an old friend of his father, who disappeared amid a series of attacks by bandits and a bit of mysterious business involving the local bank. Along the way, he's deputized and leads a revolt against Yakima Cannutt's villainous gang of outlaws.

One of a few Paul Malvern produced John Wayne vehicles, released by Republic Pictures before his becoming a full-fledged Republic contract star, it's nothing you haven't seen before, though it's easygoing enough entertainment, with a few nice location shots, a few rousing action sequences and and some good songs.

Speaking of songs, there's a few ludicrously dubbed cowboy tunes, featuring a deep-voiced singer, lip-synced by Wayne, while strumming an old guitar. Didn't they learn their lesson with the Duke's previous turn as "Singing Sandy"?
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4/10
Another big, bad boss-man trying to take over.
MartinHafer7 November 2018
"Lawless Range" is a B-western with little to distinguish it but one thing....John Wayne. While many today don't realize it, Wayne was in B-westerns and serials during most of the 1930s and only graduated up to A-films in the early 40s. All the B-westerns shared a few things in common: they were quickly made, had very low budgets and recycled the same sorts of plots again and again. In this case, the recycled plot is the cliched secret baddie who is trying to buy up all the land and force the settlers to leave. Why? What is the big baddie's aim? See the film to find out.

In addition to seeing Wayne, you can also see a silly thing movie makers TRIED with him...to make him a singing cowboy. He couldn't sing at all...so they dubbed him with a very deep baratone voice that sounded nothing like Wayne.

Overall, this is just an ordinary western, at best. Wayne poses as someone else while investigating....again, very familiar stuff. And, indifferently handled.
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10/10
Duke Jail Bird Or Star Packer
frank412225 October 2019
"I've made a lot of changes in my life but this is the first time I went from a jail bird to a star packer". Is he John Middleton coming to the rescue or notorious bank robber John Allen? I loved this very action packed Duke movie with a great group of supporting actors. Directed by the one and only Robert N. Bradbury and featuring stuntman extrodanaire Yakima Canutt. The Wranglers and Glenn Strange provide great songs in between the action. Great to see western favorite Sheila Bromley who for some reason kept changing her surname and great charactor actor Earl Dwire.
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6/10
Wayne as usual makes an engaging hero!
JohnHowardReid12 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
SYNOPSIS: A ruthless gang of outlaws seems determined to drive every rancher from the valley. Why? NOTES: Wayne's final Lone Star western - though the movie was not released as such. Monogram had become part of the new Republic Pictures organization. COMMENT: Here is Wayne signing off his Lone Star career with a snatch from the very same song with which he started off in Riders of Destiny. But in addition to the opening lines from "Blood a' Runnin' ", Wayne (obviously dubbed by extra-deep-voiced Smith Ballew) sings "On the Banks of the Sunny San Juan" right through. It's the longest musical interlude in any Wayne film. And as if that were not enough in the melody line, we are also treated to a chorus of cowpunchers standing around "That Old Dusty Road". Not that Lawless Range is short on action. That we have in plenty too. Lots of hard riding (in running inserts yet) and guns blazing ("Popping" would actually be a better word) plus a couple of impressive stunts including a high dive from a cliff (reprised from 1934's The Trail Beyond) and a jump from saddle to saddle. Unfortunately, a fair amount of the action footage is obviously stock - which makes for some confusing continuity. Still, unsophisticated fans will probably find the action sufficient and the pacing brisk enough to satisfy their needs - though few will fail to tumble to the identity of the big boss quite early on in the piece. Wayne as usual makes an engaging hero, Miss Manners/Mannors/Bromley is a plucky heroine (even when offering such lines as "I think his disappearance is part of some scheme") and it's good to see Wally Howe doing a Gabby Hayes impersonation as the kidnapped rancher. (Because they have all obviously copied from each other, just about every reference book tells us this role was played by Earl Dwire. Which is dead wrong. Mr Dwire plays the town storekeeper). A few picturesque location shots augment a very middling budget. Despite one or two of his irritating whip pans, director Bradbury generally if humbly hits home. His tracking shots with the lynch mob are particularly effective.
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6/10
Singing Cowboy brings hope to besieged town
kidboots2 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is another great "little" western from John Wayne made in 1935. Even though most of the crew (director, writer and even the music) were connected with Lone Star pictures, it was released by Republic during a brief takeover.

John Middleton (John Wayne) gives up his rodeo dreams to help his dad's friend Hank. Stopping a fight he is arrested by the town sheriff, who really wants him to go to a little town incognito, to see who is holding the town to ransom.

After jumping from a cliff edge into a river to avoid a gang of outlaws, he saves Ann (Sheila Mannors) from crossfire. After being mistaken for one of the Burns Gang, he is almost lynched but Ann intervenes and saves his life. This film is so action packed - the river scene is pretty exciting.

The town is in a state of siege, as the outlaw gang holds up all wagons bringing food to the town. John takes a hand in bringing in supplies and surprises the bandits with a trick or two of his own. His next job is to round up the rancher's cattle and take them to market.

Within 56 minutes there is a ton of action and John Wayne even has time to sing two songs. Distinctive Bob Kortman is spotted in the first scene as a "clocker" timing John Wayne as he ropes a steer. Yakima Canutt is the leader of the outlaws.
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