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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"Remember Mr. Morris, you're in the real West now!"

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
6 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Mystery Ranch" ventures into somewhat different territory than your typical land grab plots that B Westerns of the Thirties and Forties were noted for. Robert Morris (Tom Tyler) is a back East writer of Wild West pulp stories who gets an invitation from the owners of a 'real' ranch so he could write about and create some publicity for it, thereby bringing in some much needed income. Figuring they needed to liven up the place for Morris' benefit, the Hendersons (Louise Cabo as Ma Henderson and Roberta Gale as daughter Mary) involve their ranch hands in designing some stunts to match his pulp stories. Early on, Morris is treated to a hanging for a cattle rustler, a runaway buckboard, and a bucking bronco ride, all of which he manages masterfully. I was impressed in particular with Tyler's handling of the runaway with that 'Roman Ride' as Mary called it. I haven't heard that term used before, but it did have that Ben-Hur quality made famous by stunt man extraordinaire Yakina Canutt. I didn't see Yak's name in the crew listing, but his influence was all over the place.

The story plays out when a real robbery of gold bullion takes place. Morris and his publicity guy Percival Jenkins (Frank Hall Crane) witness the holdup and figure it's another one of the gags. The story goes into the old cross and double cross as the pair try to put one over on the Hendersons, while ranch hand Sam (Charles King) eyes a quick payday by grabbing the gold for himself and escaping into Mexico. Through it all, Mary Henderson winds up falling for good guy Morris in one of those typical kiss and fade endings. Surprisingly, it was never explained how Morris acquired all those great skills he showed throughout the picture, being just a writer and all.

If the plot sounds familiar, you might be thinking of Abbott and Costello's treatment of the same theme in 1953's "Ride 'Em Cowboy". In that one, Dick Foran portrays a writer who's Western exploits grew larger than life. Having to prove himself, he takes a stab at dude ranch life and competes in the annual rodeo with the comic duo. Veteran screen cowboy Johnny Mack Brown was also on hand for that picture.

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Only for the kiddie trade...That is the kids who saw it in 1934.

Author: mark.waltz from United States
10 September 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I remember playing "Cowboys and Indians" and "Cops and Robbers" as a kid, and when either my brother and I got "shot", we would emote the feeling if it just like they do here. Rolling around, the heart clutch, exaggerated mouth movements, the whole kit n' caboodle. This Z grade oater sets up its big city writer of western stories here, invited to a "real" western ranch where the hostess decides to teach him a lesson by having the whole countryside involved in a series of pranks meant to humiliate him. It gets out of hand when real incidents occur, giving the alleged city slicker rider (Tom Tyler) the chance to become a real western hero.

This is so low budget and seemingly amateurish, it seems like some local yokel rented film equipment, hired their own community to appear in it, and used real life country settings to film it in. That part would have been fine, but there's an idiotic story and some of the most amateurish acting I've seen on film. Tyler was a moderate western star of some note, but he is surrounded by a cast that couldn't get by in the most unprofessional of community theater companies. Static camera work and blurry action scenes only serve to make this more unwatchable. The only mystery here is how this managed to get a cinema release where its flaws must have been much more obvious.

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Good Old Reliable!!!

Author: kidboots from Australia
6 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Not the 1932 film featuring George O'Brien, this one stars Tom Tyler as Bob Morris, popular Western writer who brings some excitement to a struggling Dude ranch. This "sleeper" of a movie starts with a satirical scene of the "curses and the villain still pursued her" school of western pulp. Bob's father is surprised he can write such drivel but Bob reminds him that that particular book sold 50,000 copies and the public loved it. His father counters with the statement that it is old fashioned and a real cowboy would laugh at him but Bob has just had an invitation from "Mystery Ranch" to experience the real West and that his adventures are tame compared to life on the Henderson ranch. The reality is that nothing ever happens on the Henderson ranch, in fact it is going broke and they think that by advertising that the famed Western writer Bob Morris is a guest their fortunes will pick up.

This is a snappy little western with plenty of action and the always reliable Tom Tyler. On the way to the ranch he almost witnesses a hanging and then has to calm a couple of runaway horses, much to the admiration of Mary (pert Roberta Gale) but he has already cottoned on to the fact that these bizarre occurrences are just stunts and decides to play along with it. When riding over the ranch he and Percy witness a murder but laugh it off as just part of the game and when the two crooks come to the ranch for help decides to conduct his own little stunt by taking the bags of gold, kidnapping Mary and giving them all a taste of their own medicine. The murder is for real and when one of the "stunt" cowboys decides he would like the gold for himself, the ending is set for plenty of riding and fighting action.

Reliable Pictures was typical of the fly by night poverty row studios that flourished at the time. From 1934 to 1937 it produced and distributed westerns, including a few with Tom Tyler.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A better than average story undone by poor acting and direction.

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
26 March 2013

"Mystery Ranch" has a pretty neat plot--too bad the film is pretty bad in most other ways. The acting and direction are so poor, that a good story just isn't enough to recommend this film.

Bob Morris (Tom Tyler) is an Easterner who writes cowboy stories. However, some real cowboys in California invite him out--to show him that his stories are inaccurate and that the REAL west was far more exciting. However, what really is going to happen is that these cowboys work for a dude ranch and want to put on a real show--one that will send lots of business their way when Bob writes about what excitement he saw during this vacation. So, to create excitement, they arrange for a fake hanging, a bucking bronco and a runaway wagon--but somehow Bob is able to handle all this like a true cowboy. Later, when Bob and his partner see a robbery taking place, they naturally assume it's also a put-on--but it's actually real and they end up getting caught up in the robbery! Can all this be sorted out? The idea is great for a B-western. Too often, films in this genre were REALLY repetitive and formulaic--but not this one. Too bad that the film is handled so poorly--so poorly that even a good idea cannot overcome the sloppy acting and direction. Worth a look if you are a very forgiving sort--otherwise, you can skip this one.

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