On a cattle drive Hoppy, camp cook Windy, companion Lucky, and young Artie Peters encounter an eccentric professor. The professor professes to be searching for the evolutionary missing link... See full summary »
George 'Gabby' Hayes,
Belle Langtry runs a town being taken over by cattle rustlers. She is also a front for the outlaws, who are led by Steve Fraser. Hoppy gets elected sheriff and cleans up the town with help from the Bar 20 boys.
Rancher Arnold sends for Hoppy and Red to help fight the cattle rustler Nevada and his gang. Hoppy poses as a gambler to get on Nevada's ranch and meet the snuff taking boss who pictures himself another Napoleon. Hoppy's smoke signal alerts Arnold's men leading to a massive gunfight. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Of all the B-movie westerns of the 1930's-40's, the Hopalong Cassidy films remain some of the best. They have more action, for those who are looking for that in these flicks (and many of us are) and excitement than some other westerns of that time, and have comparatively high production value and less cheesy story lines.
Bar 20 Rides Again is one of the earliest Hopalong Cassidy films, and it shares the strengths and weaknesses of the older films. It is less formulaic than the later movies with a more original story, and, although it is certainly family friendly, Hoppy is edgier and less like "a kiddie show". Although I love the later B-movies and the subsequent television series, I enjoy the slightly edgier stories as well. On the downside, the production value is much higher in some of the later movies and the story, although less formulaic, is pretty disjointed and doesn't seem to flow from scene to scene. As always, however, the locations are beautiful and scenic and capture a true "western" feel that many television shows 30 years later missed with obvious painted backgrounds on studio sets. James Ellison is also mostly terrible as Johnny Nelson, although William Boyd and Gabby Hayes as Windy help to save the day as far as acting goes. The best trio by my reckoning was still Boyd, Hayes, and Russell Hayden as Lucky Jenkins, and the movies with those three were often the better quality Hoppy films. In this movie there are also a couple of other recognizable faces, including Paul Fix who played Micah on The Rifleman.
The thing that really made this film memorable to me was the unique villain and some clever dark humor. Hoppy movies often cast the same actors as the same basic villains with a small mustache. Although the villain in this film had a similar motive to those villains, he had a bit more character, a Napolean aficionado who sees himself as a chess master and doesn't even consider fighting when the going gets tough. My family and I also got a kick out of how the demise of certain evil characters was treated by Hoppy and the gang with some nonchalant, deadpan humor.
So all in all, Bar 20 Rides Again doesn't have the best production quality or actors and has some pacing issues, but the fun factor and some more unique elements to the story makes up for that. This is a good one.
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