Riding to town to collect their men from Old Man Taylor's (Karl Hackett)
saloon, mine owners Billy Carson (Buster Crabbe) & Fuzzy (Al St.John)
encounter their new neighbour Ruth Lane (Sydney Logan) chasing off a couple of
thugs with guns blazing. She tells them of a plot of local lawyer Horace Black
(I.Stanford Jolley) to chase off local landowners to grab their land for a big
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Billy decides to investigate, while Fuzzy, learning that Old Man Taylor
plans to leave town, shows an interest in buying his saloon ... & Taylor is
happy to sell it to just about everyone but Black. Fuzzy even goes so far as to
steal his & Billy's money from their mine to buy the place.
Too happy to get away with quite a sum, Old Man Taylor leaves town, but is
soon enough gunned down & robbed by Black's men.
Meanwhile Black devices another plan to get his hands on the Lanes' ranch,
as he lends huge sums of money to Ruth Lane's brother Jim (Michael Owen), but
makes sure he loses every cent of it at a cards game ... which goes on until
Jim owes the Lanes' ranch to Black. But to top it all off, Black sends some of
his men with the deputy (Wally West) to evict the Lanes from their ranch (which
is now legally Black's), & Black makes pretty sure that Jim fires an
accidental shot at the deputy, too, then he has the deputy killed by his men
& pins it on Jim. Only then does he report to the local sheriff that Jim
killed the deputy. But when he tells Billy he called in the sheriff, &
Billy soon afterwards spots him burning vital evidence that would prove that
Jim did not shoot the deputy, Billy finds an opportunity to turn the tables
against Black, as he joins forces with the sheriff (Ed Cassidy) & soon
tricks one of Black's henchmen into making a statement, that not only clears
Jim of the murder charge but also unveils some of Black's evil schemes.
Fuzzy meanwhile has grown tired of his saloon (it involving too much work)
& is desperate to sell it to just about everyone, even if it is Black - the
only one who can afford it in the first place), but is desperate to strike a
deal with Black before he gets wind of Billy's plans to have him arrested ...
& he receives Black's money just before Black is killed in the final
Buster Crabbe & Al st.John were always one of the best
hero-&-sidekick duos of the b-Western genre, as their relatively good
acting skills, their chemistry, & Al St.John's versatility as a comic
(after all he was trained at the Keystone Cops) would elevate
even the cheap PRC westerns they were in above their budgetary
limitations. Gangster's Den was one of the duo's more interesting ones since it
moved above genre limitations & incorporated elements of crime melodrama
(the subplot of cowboy Crabbe trying to thwart the schemes of an oily lawyer)
& slapstick comedy (Fuzzy's attempts to run a saloon with the help of
buffoons Emmett Lynn & Charles King [in a for him unusually funny role),
before tying the 2 storylines up in a finale where Fuzzy desperately tries to
get hold of the oily lawyer before the sinal shoot-out.
It might not be a classic Western, nor the best movie the duo was in, but
it's entertaining b-fare nevertheless.