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In 1889 pioneers race ahead of the law to claim free land in Oklahoma, forming wide-open towns. In one such, citizens elect Milt Dawson to challenge the self-appointed rule of gambler Ace Holmes, only to have him shot in the back. But leading the next batch of settlers is Milt's quick-on-the-draw son John, who gets help from friendly outlaws. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
John Wayne stars as trail guide turned sheriff out to bring law and order to a small town. The local troublemaker in the town has shot Wayne's father in the back, establishing Wayne's motivation to take the job of sheriff.
The film is short -- 54 minutes -- and has an average story line. There are no surprises here, and the acting...well, the acting is wooden in most cases, even Wayne. Of course, all he had to do was play himself. The one exception is Al Bridge, who plays the head of a gang of thieves who was once nursed back to health by Wayne and so feels that he owes him a debt -- even if it goes against his lawless nature. Bridge plays the part well, even a little tongue-in-cheek, seeming to be smirking just below the surface in every scene.
As stated, the story line is predictable so there is no standout here either. The one thing that did impress me was the filming of the obligatory "big shootout" that ends the film. It is several minutes long -- between 10 and 15 minutes -- and is shot at night. In the course of the shootout the saloon is set on fire which quickly jumps to several more buildings. Early films were not known for the quality of night photography, so to see how well this fire was depicted in the film, the quality of the scenes, the staging -- everything was done well in my opinion. Cinematographers Harry Neumann and Gus Peterson did an excellent job of shooting this finale. If you are a film buff, you'll want to check out the film simply for this alone. Others might want to watch one of Wayne's earlier work. Otherwise, the film is an average western.
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