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Randy is jailed for murders he didn't commit. Knowing he is innocent, Sally Rogers breaks him out. Fleeing the Sheriff, he stumbles into the murderers hideout where he is accepted as part of the gang. Learning of the bosses secret identity by comparing handwritten notes, he has a plan that will enable the Sheriff to round them all up. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
John Wayne made a slew of B Westerns for major and minor studios in the '30s before he hit it big with "Stagecoach" in 1939 for RKO. This was made for Monogram, a minor studio, and directed by Harry Fraser, a quirky director who spent his entire career grinding out B (and D, and Z . . . ) movies for long-forgotten studios like Resolute, Atlantic, PRC and Screen Guild. Working at a cheapo studio like Monogram would be considered the start of a downward slide for most directors; for Fraser it was a step up the career ladder, and he was ready for it. This could well be called one of, if the first, gothic Westerns; such things simply did not exist in 1934. It's eerie, atmospheric and has an especially shocking (for the time) opening scene. Randy (Wayne) rides into town after a long, dry trip and stops by the local saloon to wet his whistle. As he approaches it, he hears the tinkle of a piano coming from inside. Entering the establishment, however, he's greeted by a grisly sight: the piano is a player piano running by itself, and there are dead bodies lying everywhere. This film shows what can be done with almost no money but a lot of imagination and talent. This kind of movie wouldn't have been made at any of the big studios, but the independents could get away with a lot of things the majors couldn't (and wouldn't) do. This is an extremely offbeat, well done little film, not at all like Wayne's other westerns of the period. It's too bad Harry Fraser was never able to capitalize on the success of this movie (reportedly it made quite a bit of money and Wayne got along especially well with him); it would have been interesting to see what he would have been capable of with a bit more money and some major studio backing. Instead, he stayed pretty much where he was and ended his career making trash like "The White Gorilla" and "Chained for Life", about a murder committed by Siamese twins (!). Sorry, Harry.
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