The Lawless Frontier (1934) Poster

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Duke Rides to the Rescue Again!
bsmith555215 July 2006
"The Lawless Frontier" is another of John Wayne's Lone Star westerns released in the 1933-35 period. As in many of the other entries in the series, this one was written and directed by Robert N. Bradbury (who was Bob Steele's father by the way.) Again the cast is made up mostly from the "Lone Star Stock Company" of players. The plot has young John Tobin (Wayne) arriving at his father's ranch just after he has been killed by a gang of rustlers headed by bandit Pandro Zanti (Earl Dwire) and his gang. Zanti, who for what it is worth, is half Apache, half white, is posing as a Mexican outlaw complete with accent. Zanti comes upon the small ranch of Dusty (George Hayes) and his comely young grand daughter Ruby (Sheila Terry), and decides to take the girl unto himself. Arriving just as Zanti is about to murder Dusty and carry off Ruby, Tobin arrives and joins forces with Dusty to bring the bandits to justice. Tobin has an eye for the lovely Ruby as well. Into the mix rides Sheriff Luke Williams (Jack Rockwell) who is also in pursuit of the bandits. In true "B" western fashion, the good guys win out over the baddies and guess who gets the girl. As in most of Wayne's Lone Star Westerns, the level is raised somewhat by the expert stunt work of the legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt. He jumps a horse over a cliff and performs several horse falls and riding stunts in this one, as well as playing the part of Dwire's henchman Joe. In the world of poverty row quickies, re-takes almost never happened. This film is no exception. Watch the scene where Wayne chases and takes down Dwire. As they get up out of the dust, Wayne's gun and holster suddenly switch from his right side to his left and back to the right again as he mounts his horse. George Hayes was still a couple of years away from his grizzled old sidekick of "Windy/Gabby". In this film though he looks like Gabby and sounds like Gabby but plays it straight. Hayes played a variety of character roles in this series and didn't settle into his sidekick role until he joined the Hopalong Cassidy series in 1935. The "Gabby" character didn't come along until he moved to Republic around 1938 to ride with Roy Rogers. John Wayne was still learning his trade at this point but if you watch closely you can catch glimpses of his future on-screen persona emerging. Average "B" western lifted a notch or two by the excellent stunt work.
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This B western deserves a B grade from this teacher.
keesha451 January 2007
So what can you say about a film that has the villain hamming it up with a lousy Mexican accent, an opening that has an atrocious editing job(mixing day and night footage in the same scene)and a dumb sheriff who wants to arrest the wrong man and botches his handcuffing of the real villain? For all its faults, it's actually not too bad. The chase scenes actually are quite good, with realistic falls from horseback by the girl and the villain in separate sequences. In real life, galloping over rough terrain, often with people shooting at one another, would cause those spills frequently. Once you get past the horrendous opening, Archie Stout's photography is pretty good for a B movie. I especially liked the desert foot-chase scene, with the towering basalt cliffs of Red Rock Canyon in the background. All told, the action sequences and sometimes stunning photography kept this and other John Wayne potboilers from being dull and gave depression-era audiences their money's worth, which was what made B westerns so popular in the first place. Just like audiences back then did, I sat back and enjoyed the ride, bumpy though it may be at times. Dale Roloff
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Hayes to Wayne, "I got a girl in the sack, and I can't swim."
dougdoepke23 May 2008
Secret passages, dynamite explosions, lots of hard riding, and the great team of Hayes and Wayne, so what else can a front-row kid turned old geezer ask for. Nothing. The movie's got it all. Okay, the plot's got more crazy twists than a corkscrew and Earl Dwire's Mexican accent is the worst until Larry Storch's Gunfever (1958), but who cares. It's Wayne at his likable peak and Hayes's Gabby is about three-quarters complete. Some great stunts, as expected from a cast that includes maestro Yakima Canutt, along with a leading lady who really can ride (one bad trip-wire stunt, my only complaint). Watch for the unexpected and humorous twist when Wayne takes a short-cut to nail Dwire. Sometimes these programmers can surprise you. I guess kids don't play cowboy anymore. Computers have taken away imaginary play. Too bad. Now, if I were just x years younger, I'd strap on my cap pistol, get my stick horse and join up with the posse. But first I got to get me one of those really big, big hats.
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Wayne Versus the Frito Bandito
bkoganbing4 May 2006
The most die-hard worshippers of John Wayne will cringe when they watch The Lawless Frontier. Even for a poverty row studio, this one is one stinkeroo. Unusual for a western we have a criminal who is a sex crime perpetrator. Earl Dwire plays a halfbreed white and Indian who for reasons that are not explained, pretends he's a Mexican, hokey accent and all. Dwire sounds like the Frito Bandito of advertising fame back in the day. He and his gang happen upon Gabby Hayes and his daughter Sheila Terry. They really don't have anything worth robbing, but Dwire just wants an excuse to kidnap Terry and have his way with her. She hears the dastardly fate she has in store and she and Hayes flee the ranch. Where they happen to meet John Wayne who's on the trail of the bandits. They also run into one very stupid sheriff who believes Wayne is one of the bandits. Again for reasons I can't quite fathom. It was a tough way to earn a living grinding out horse operas like these for the Duke. Fortunately better things were on the way.
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"You forget Senor Sheriff, wolves run in packs, and mine is not far behind."
classicsoncall11 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Even die hard John Wayne fans will have to concede that this film is a mess. Wayne's character, John Tobin is after the gang that killed his parents, led by half Apache, half white renegade Pandro Zanti (Earl Dwire), posing as a Mexican. There are almost too many silly plot points to count, but those that stand out include Sheriff Williams (Jack Rockwell) cuffing a captured Zanti around his boot, so all Zanti has to do to get free is remove his boot! Tobin's friend Dusty (George pre-Gabby Hayes) takes a thrown knife in the back, and comes back good as new for the rest of the story. In a chase scene, Tobin rides a makeshift log flume through a drainage trough surrounded by log walls in the middle of a desert, and missing his mark, chases (actually walks after) Zanti on foot through the desert. Zanti seeks relief and drinks from a pool of water, but OOPS!, he didn't see the sign above the waterhole that states "Don't Drink Poison". As Zanti collapses dead, Tobin resumes his chase after the remainder of the gang, and captures the whole lot by blowing up a rock wall that seals a secret passage into Dusty's cabin - how convenient. In the closing scene, the new Sheriff Tobin is seen on the phone talking to the new Mrs. Tobin (Sheila Terry), Dusty's daughter Ruby, who earlier in the film was a kidnap target of Zanti's gang. Apparently, the studio was intent on Wayne's getting the girl in virtually every film they made with him, as this type of ending is completely predictable for almost all of Lone Star's films.
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TEXICAN-26 November 1999
John's parents are killed by a renegade bandit, played to the hilt by perennial bad guy, Earl Dwire. Dwire injures Hayes, who joins with John to bring him and his gang to justice. The local sheriff, Jack Rockwell, is convinced that John's one of the gang, and when Hayes is shot, arrests John for the shooting. There are the usual chases, gun battles, and fights that hallmark these "B" Westerns. There is one extended walking scene where you can see the Duke perfecting his special walk that became a trademark. An excellent stunt has John riding a log down a large drainage ditch. Pretty amazing, and not without danger to the actor. Beware though, the DVD copy looks as if they took the print from an Extended Play (EP) VHS copy. Very disappointing, but, a classic from John Wayne.
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"Just another romance in the life of Pandro Zanti."
utgard1423 April 2014
John Wayne and Gabby Hayes team up to take on bandit and (for some unexplained reason) fake Mexican, Pandro Zanti. What a name. Anyway, Wayne is out for revenge because Zanti killed his parents in the film's opening scene. Gabby Hayes also has a pretty daughter, played by Sheila Terry. Zanti's eyes bulge out when he first sees her so you can assume what that means. Hayes and Terry live in a ramshackle old place yet they manage to have a secret passageway behind a cabinet. There's also a deeply stupid sheriff to complicate things for our hero. Pretty corny stuff, for the most part. As with most of the B westerns Wayne did for Lone Star around this time, the highlight is the stuntwork of Yakima Canutt. Animal lovers prepare yourselves there's some rough-looking stunts for the horses in this one.
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One of John Wayne's poorest; a textbook in how NOT to edit a film.
nek33874 May 2003
This is probably Wayne's poorest movie; at least the poorest in which he had a starring role. It's just incredibly bad. The editing is especially awful; it really appears that the editor (if there was one)literally picked up pieces of film off the floor and pasted them together. The opening has to be seen to be believed. John Wayne must have cringed every time it was mentioned! I know there are "B" films - but are there "H" films? If so, this one's an example. And I say this as a devoted JW fan.
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Pretty poor--but I don't think much of the problem was the fault of the film makers
MartinHafer4 August 2010
One of the other reviewers was right--this film was horribly edited--as if by a blind guy on crack! I assume this was NOT how the film was originally released--as even for a low-budget B-movie it was pretty shabby. In addition, some knuckle-heads at Fox-Lorber decided to 'improve' this public domain film by adding a new musical track--a musical track that was just god-awful. The instruments are new and very electronic, the music was used indiscriminately (and often inappropriately) and it was the exact same track used in many John Wayne B-westerns--exactly the same! It was just dreadful but you can't blame the people at Lone Star Pictures who made the film. "The Lawless Frontier" was a below average Wayne outing--mostly due to the terribly dumb Sheriff--no one can be that dumb or incompetent! An outlaw named Zanti is posing as a Mexican--why, I have no idea. The main problem with catching him is that the local Sheriff is an idiot and seems to have no desire to do anything. Naturally, Wayne will save the day. The only pluses for this film are the wonderful stunts--even better than you'd normally see in these Wayne B-films. A few of the stunts were just stunning and you have to see them to believe them. But, a dumb villain and Sheriff, a stabbing that somehow leaves Gabby feeling a-o.k. and some choppy elements to the film make this very tough to watch. If you do want to see it, download it from IMDb for free--it's much better than seeing the yecchy version by Fox-Lorber shown on the Encore Channel.
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