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The Desert Trail (1935)

Passed | | Western | 22 April 1935 (USA)
Rodeo star John Scott and his gambler friend Kansas Charlie are wrongly accused of armed robbery. They leave town as fast as they can to go looking for their own suspects in Poker City.

Director:

(as Cullen Lewis)

Writers:

(story), (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
John Scott posing as John Jones
Mary Kornman ...
Anne
...
Jim
Eddy Chandler ...
Kansas Charlie posing as Rev. Harry Smith
Carmen Laroux ...
Juanita (as Carmen LaRoux)
...
Poker City Sheriff
Al Ferguson ...
Pete
Henry Hall ...
Farnsworth (Rodeo Promoter)
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Storyline

Rodeo star John Scott and his gambler friend Kansas Charlie are wrongly accused of armed robbery. They leave town as fast as they can to go looking for their own suspects in Poker City. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 April 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Caminho do Deserto  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

| (colorized)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The earliest documented telecasts of this film occurred in Los Angeles Sunday 14 August 1949 on KTSL (Channel 2) and Saturday 28 January 1950 on WECA (Channel 7); in New York City its television premiere took place Sunday 30 July 1950 on WOR (Channel 9). See more »

Goofs

After Scott stops the stage, he agrees to drive it into town. He jumps on the driver's seat and heads off, leaving his own horse behind. However, as the stage arrives in town, his horse can be seen tied on behind the stage. See more »

Quotes

Sheriff of Rattlesnake Gulch: Maybe we can try him this afternoon and hang him right away and save the county the expense of feeding him.
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Connections

Featured in 100 Years of John Wayne (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

The Last Lap
(uncredited)
Music by Carl Albert Egener
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User Reviews

 
Duke's Funny Side Buried In Weak Oater
21 September 2013 | by (Greenwich, CT United States) – See all my reviews

Give the producers at Monogram Pictures (a. k. a. Lone Star) some credit: They gave John Wayne here a chance to try some comedy, and the Duke delivers. It's a shame the result is buried in another lame C- western with a poor script and below-par acting.

Rodeo rider John Scott (Wayne) and his gambler companion Kansas Charlie (Eddy Chandler) get mixed up in a case of mistaken identity when they are blamed for stealing money from a crooked rodeo and murdering its promoter. Lying low in another town under assumed names, they find themselves on the wrong side of the law again, thanks to the machinations of the promoter's real killers.

Watching Wayne cut up here with Chandler is kind of fun, especially early on. Director Cullen Lewis starts us off with a scene where the two are playing cards, and a tight close-up shows Kansas Charlie dealing himself an ace from the bottom of the deck. Scott catches him, though he's not angry at the duplicity so much as disgusted by the awkwardness of the move.

"You're terrible!" Scott exclaims. "Try any of those phony tricks at Rattlesnake Gulch, they'll run you out quicker than they did at the last place!"

Watching Scott and Kansas Charlie bicker is fun for a while. Unfortunately, that's about all "The Desert Trail" has to offer. The conflict with the killers is awkwardly presented and left unresolved, even after one of them returns to steal Scott's money and Kansas Charlie's watch. Instead of trying to clear their names or catch the thief, Scott and K. C. hightail it to another town, where they meet pretty storekeeper Anne (Mary Kornman) and develop a new line of bickering over her. Seeing Wayne play a rather crooked character is kind of interesting; unfortunately this Scott guy and his pal are pretty dumb, too.

Wayne enthusiasts may find his performance as noteworthy as I did; they may also like seeing Paul Fix, a regular in many Wayne movies, playing one of the killers who's also Anne's brother. Fix is terrible in this movie, perhaps because he was a busy guy (he appeared in 14 other movies in 1935 alone) and the character is so badly written. He doesn't want to kill and steal, but his nasty partner Pete (Al Ferguson) keeps threatening to turn him in if he doesn't go along. How would Pete do this without incriminating himself? Scott and Kansas aren't the only two characters in "Desert Trail" not long on brains.

The film ambles along fretfully, with odd shoot-outs (odd because Wayne is often shooting at good guys) and cruel horse stunts (they tripped the horses in full gallop with wire, and a couple of the stunts here appear to have been fatal) breaking up largely comic interludes involving Scott, Kansas, and Anne. Kornman, a fetching woman with skills honed from her childhood career in silent "Our Gang" comedies, plays well off Wayne, especially when he tries to schmooze her by making her climb a ladder for some "nerve tonic." She points out nerve tonic is something he doesn't seem to need.

With some better scripting, either in the way of a coherent cowboy actioner or a more focused comedy, "Desert Trail" might have risen above the batch of cheapo films Wayne starred in in his own desert years, after "The Big Trail" and before "Stagecoach." But it just doesn't gel enough, or go anywhere interesting beyond the occasional funniness.


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