Texas cattle baron Stiles killed John Clayborn's parents ten years earlier. Now a lawyer, Clayborn tries legally to break up Stiles' water monopoly and rustling operation. When that fails he must use force.
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Joseph W. Girard
Profiteer Alexander Stiles lays claim to a million acres of range in the Pecos River country, but a rancher named Claybor stands in his way as he has already claimed the water-rich location of Sweetwater as his own, and refuses Stiles' $1000 offer for his land. Led by the murderous Ash, the hired guns of Stiles kill Clayborn and his wife but their young son John survives and joins his grandfather in Austin. As the boy grows into a man he learns the use of a law book as well as a six gun, intending to use both to bring Stiles to justice. As lawyer John Clay, he travels to the Cottonwood headquarters of Stiles, self-proclaimed King of the Pecos, and meets Hank Matthews and Josh Billings, two cattlemen thrown into poverty through the crooked dealings of Stiles. John serves a summons for Stiles to appear in court but the circuit judge is too frightened to face the might of Stiles. John sends Hank to round up other impoverished cattlemen, and they provide the judge with an armed escort to ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
(opening titles) In the seventies, Texas and New Mexico constituted a vast, open cattle range. Land laws and water rights were indefinite and millions of acres of range were often claimed thru a so-called "right of discovery." See more »
a bit more polished and watchable than Wayne's earlier Bs.
If you see this title and wonder what 'the Pecos' are, don't worry--I had the exact same thought. Apparently, the Pecos river begins in Eastern New Mexico and runs along the Texas border--emptying into the Rio Grande.
Unlike many of John Wayne's early B-movies, this one is not in the public domain and the copy I saw was very crisp and clean. It also appears to have a higher budget than his earlier films for tiny production companies such as Schlessinger. Now it might surprise you to see Wayne in such a film, but through the 1930s, practically all the films he made were B-westerns. It wasn't until after successes in films such as "Stagecoach" and "They Were Expendable" that Wayne graduated to A-pictures and became a top star.
The film begins with a typical baddie deciding that he's entitled to everyone's land. So, when one farmer won't sell out to him, the baddie and his henchmen kill the farmer and his wife--leaving the young boy an orphan. Naturally, the boy grows into a man (John Wayne) intent on exacting justice for his folks. Still, a decade later, the baddie is still forcing people off their land--giving them worthless promissory notes and controlling all the water. Now Wayne is a lawyer and plans on using the law to stop this jerk. Will the law be enough or will Wayne have to resort to his fists and guns? Considering that the baddie controls EVERYTHING, it's not a huge surprise where the film goes next.
The film is nicely polished and watchable. The only negative is that in many of Wayne's early films he had lovable sidekicks--like Gabby Hayes. Here, despite a great villain (Cy Kendall), the supporting cast for the good guys is a bit dull. I missed the usual sidekicks, such as Gabby Hayes, as the deaf guy and his friend were a bit dull. Also, while not exactly a negative, the plot is a bit too familiar--as Wayne and many other western heroes made similar films over the years.
By the way, in a sad note, you see a horse trip and throw its rider near the end (I think this was reused from an earlier film). This is sad, as to get this sort of stunt in the old days, they used trip wires to literally rip the legs out from under the horse--and usually broke the horse's legs in the process!! Fortunately, such things have long ago been outlawed--as it was a terrific waste and morally suspect!
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