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Robert N. Bradbury
Virginia Brown Faire,
George 'Gabby' Hayes
John Travers and his Indian companion Yak are after the mysterious Shadow and his gang. When Sheriff Davis is killed, Travers becomes Sheriff. Catching two gang members, he learns of the room where the gang gets their orders from behind a fake wall safe and makes plans to trap the Shadow. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Lone Star Productions sure churned them out in the 1930's, and "Star Packer" has the feel of one of the more rushed ones. John Wayne is U.S. Marshal John Travers, investigating a crooked hoodlum known only as "The Shadow", responsible for stealing cattle, stage holdups and the like, and giving orders from behind the door of a phony wall safe. Yakima Canutt is Travers' trusty Indian sidekick, appropriately named as... well, "Yak".
Early on, we find out that Cattlemens Union head Matt Matlock (George pre-Gabby Hayes) is really The Shadow; the dead giveaway is when he offers to buy out his (supposed) niece Anita's half of the Matlock Ranch, since "this is no place for a girl". As Anita, Verna Hillie doesn't have much to do in the film, although in a comic moment, she gets to use a six shooter to blast the butt of one of the villains in a night time scare raid.
There are a few curiosities in the film - for one, Wayne's character alternately rides a white horse and a dark horse in the first half of the film. In what could have been a neat device, a hollowed out tree stump used by a henchman is located right in the middle of the street. And finally, the movie doesn't truly live up to it's name, as Sheriff Travers never wears a badge throughout the film, that is, a star packer without a star.
The horse chases, the runaway stage scenes, the stagecoach off the cliff (another curiosity, the horses conveniently get loose from the stage) are all pretty standard stuff. But John Wayne fans will want to see this one for the charisma he displayed early on in his career. For those more critical, the white kerchiefs worn around the forehead by the good guy posse could only mean that they all had a headache.
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