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Riders of Destiny

USA 1933
produced by
Paul Malvern for Monogram Pictures (Lone Star)
directed by Robert N. Bradbury
starring John Wayne, Cecilia Parker, Forrest Taylor, George Hayes (= Gabby Hayes), Al St. John, Yakima Canutt, Earl Dwire, Lafe McKee
cinematography by Archie Stout

John Wayne at Monogram (Lone Star)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Riding through the desert, a song on his lips (yes, he is a singing cowboy in this one), John Wayne finds a sheriff shot in the back - but not killed, & he learns of some great injustice (off-screen though, the audience just has to guess). Later, he sees Cecilia Parker (masked though) holding up a stagecoach & helps her escape, for, according to her, she just steals her own property before anyone else can ... a claim which proves to be true when Wayne overhears a conversation between the stagecoach drivers and some crooks. Soon Wayne gets the whole picture, about greedy landgrabber Kincaid (Forrest Taylor), who owns the only dam of the valley, about ranchers who are about to be bought out of their own country for ridiculous prices, & about already 2 sheriffs having disappeared in the desert (supposedly killed). Of course. Wayne stands on the side of the honest ranchers, helping to get them water from Gabby Hayes' (as Cecilia Parker's father) well - the only source of water besides Kincaid's dam, but suddenly, when the price is right, he seems to change sides & now talks Kincaid into blowing up Gabby's well - with disastrous results for Kincaid, actually, for the water from the blown up well fills a creek running through the whole valley with water but drying out Kincaid's dam. After a short chase, Kuincaid ends his life when jumping into the creek on horseback.

 

This was the first of 16 consecutive Westerns Wayne did for Monogram, all of them fast paced actioners, with great outdoor-scenery (filmed by Archis Stout) & great stunts (done by Yakima Canutt) & many of them featuring more or less the same supporting players. This one though, tries to make Wayne one of the (then pretty popular) singing cowboys - though his singing voice wasn't even his own voice. In the first scene already, Wayne seems pretty uncomfortable with the singing & playing guitar on horseback, his voice & his lips being terribly (& I mean terribly) out of synch, while he's holding the guitar as if he has never seen one before. In a later scene, director Bradbury would put Wayne's singing to better use, when he, at a duel, sings a sombre tune before shooting his opponent Earl Dwire's both wrists - a scene that's genuinely creepy.

 

Al St.John by the way, who plays a comical henchman here, was a former Keystone Cop & would later sport a beard to become Fuzzy, the comic sidekick of B-Western greats such as Bob Livingston, Bob Steele, Buster Crabbe & Lash La Rue. Incidently, St.John would also play Stoney Brooks of the 3 Mesquiteers in an early adaptation of William Colt McDonald's cowboy trio in Normandy's The Law of 45's (though he's called Stoney Martin in this one) of 1935, a role that Wayne would later play in 8 features of Republic's 3 Mesquiteers-series from 1938 to '39.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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