When Selby arrives as the new ranch owner, he is assumed to be just another cowboy attracted to Ann Hepburn so he takes a job as a dude cowhand. He learns cattle are being rustled and he suspects the boss Sam Hepburn. But Hepburn suspects the foreman Hyslip and when he catches him with the goods, Hyslip shoots him. Hyslip then blames the new dude, and sends his men out to kill him. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is one of the better B-Westerns I have seen, and I have seen hundreds. It is definitely something special, and a pleasant surprise. George O-Brien and his sidekick Syd Saylor do a great job of sprinkling in lots of humor and strike up a good-natured friendship. Irene Hervey is memorable in this role and provides a lot of spunk, good comedic timing, and great expression on her face during close-ups. Male viewers will find the beauty, personality, and good-natured vanity of Irene Hervey's character quite a draw, and I would think female viewers would be charmed by George O-Brien, who employs some intentional vanity of his own, making for more good fun. Syd Saylor as "Nebraska" Kemp provides an oddly fun character that I haven't seen before, with his impromptu songs for all occasions. The film has a welcome sweetness to it, aided by the director's use of close-ups and allowing characters to show emotions, humor, and affection. Even the bit part of the lawyer, played by Lloyd Ingraham, provides some humor.
The scenery is great and you will keep asking yourself, "Where is that?" or you'll think, "What a great mountain that is!". The mountain scenery is unique compared to most B-Westerns which give us the same scenery so often that we notice that it is the same backlot area being used. The makers of The Dude Ranger must have gone to extra expense and a lot of extra trouble to bring us unique scenery that has not been overutilized, and in fact has been underutilized over the years. Much of the film was filmed in Zion National Park, and Johnson Canyon (near Kanab), Utah.
The plot and characters are much better developed in The Dude Ranger than in the preponderance of B-Westerns. The film does not spend too much time on drawn-out horse chases or gunplay, though there is just enough. Instead the film spends most of its time developing the plot and characters through many scenes that build to aid several finales. I was struck by how different this movies was compared to most B-westerns, with their simplified stock characters and quick drawing of the lines that create the good guys and bad guys. Even though you know from the start who the good guys and bad guys are, this movie lets us gradually see the traits of the various characters via a number of well-developed scenes. The movie seems to fit a lot into its 65 minutes, while still allowing scenes to play out.
There are a few flaws in the scenes involving guns and standoffs. Though you have to like Henry Hall's Sam Hepburn character, and I am now a fan of his too, there is some disappointment for the viewer in how his character is handled by the scriptwriter or director in one scene.
My rating of 9 stars out of 10 is for B-Westerns. Compared to all films I would give it a 7, or even an 8! Enjoy.
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