When the telegraph line puts the Pony Express out of business, former
Pony Express riders John (John Wayne) and Larry (Lane Chandler) decide to
start a stageline - but they soon fall victim to Drake (Douglas Cosgrove),
who sells them one of his franchises to a ghosttown for good money ...
well, almost ghosttown, because Crescent City (the name of the town) has
two inhabitants, Doc Forsythe (Sam Flint) and old duffer Rocky (Lew Kelly)
- and from them John and Larry learn they can make their stageline work,
and make Crescent City a booming city once more, if they land a mail
contract with the gouvernment.
Their only competitor for the mail contract is - who else - crooked
Drake, and he will try everything to win that contract, he even tries to
have both John and Larry assassinated, but John seems to be too smart for
him, and by and by, John even gets people to settle in Crescent City,
including Doc Forsythe's daughter Barbara (Phyllis Fraser) from the East
(with whom he of course eventually gets romantically involved).
The whole film culminates in a stagecoach race between John and Drake's
gang ... and of course John wins the race and as a result the mail
contract ... and (wouldn't you know it) he gets the girl.
Maybe the film is nothing big and certainly not comparable to John
Ford's best Westerns, but Winds of the Wasteland is a likeable
B-Western featuring, besides all the usual trappings of a cowboy story, a
relatively unusual plot and a breathtaking stagecoach race at the finale.
If you are at all into B-Westerns, this early Republic-effortis not
to be missed.