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Though he fought for the North in the Civil War, John is asked by the Governor of Texas to get rid of some troublesome carpetbaggers. He enlists the help of Holden before learning that Holden too is plundering the local folk. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Early in his career, John Wayne was a very, very busy man--working in a long string of B-Westerns throughout the 1930s. While all of them are reasonably good, they are so short and so similar that I just can't bring myself to watch them all (and there were MANY). They're not bad, mind you, but they also aren't all that memorable. It seems that when this Wayne film came on TCM I wasn't very busy so I decided to watch--and this is exactly what this film is--a decent time-passer.
As the film begins, you can see that this film is influenced by the BIRTH OF A NATION myth concerning the Reconstruction period. According to this myth, the good Souterners were taken advantage of by evil Northern opportunists bent on robbing the Southerners blind and taking away all their freedom. While it is true that there was, for a while, martial law in the Southern states following the Civil War, the truth is that Reconstruction didn't go far enough--soon allowing the old Southern power structure to return and forcing the Blacks back into subservience.
While this film is not so offensive and over the top as BIRTH OF A NATION (where all the Blacks were raping idiots), in this film they are portrayed as happy with the status quo and liked their old slave owners. This "happy ex-slave" portrayal is rather insulting and I'm sure it will raise a few eyebrows in many viewers! Fortunately, 21 years had passed since BIRTH OF A NATION and so in addition to showing Black Americans a little more sympathetically, they also ultimately revealed that not ALL the Northerners were evil Carpetbaggers! If you are looking for an accurate history lesson, this is certainly not the film to see! Now as for the rest of the film, Wayne is in excellent form--showing some improvement in his acting skills since earlier films (which were VERY rough). He still wasn't exactly the John Wayne of the 40s and 50s in style, but he was getting close. The plot is also pretty exciting and very watchable--much like a Gene Autry film (but without the cars and phones you might see in an Autry film).
Overall, this is very much a 1930s kids' film that is modest in its pretenses but still entertaining and watchable. For die-hard fans of the Duke, it's probably a must-see. For others, it's just a run of the mill 30s Western.
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