The Pony Express days are coming to an end, with riders John Blair (John Wayne) and his friend Larry Adams (Lane Chandler), both about 75 pounds too heavy for the original job description, out of a job. They pay Cal Drake (Douglas Cosgrove) of Buchanan City a big price for the Crescent City line and equipment, and arrive there to find it is a ghost mining town and has only two residents: eccentric, self-proclaimed Mayor "Rocky" O'Brien (Lew Kelly) and Dr. William Forsythe (Sam Flint). With the arrival from back east of Barbara Forsythe (Phyllis Fraser), the doctor's daughter and Ginger Rogers lookalike, O'Brien happily changes the blackboard population sign from two to five. John determines to get even and operate the line anyway, after vacating a resident skunk from the stagecoach. On his first run into Buchanan City John learns of a coach race to be staged (fastest team to win a $25,000 government mail contract) and he signs up. A telegraph crew, drinking unknowingly of a poisoned ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the final stage of the race, the long shots of the Crescent City coach show a driver with a light coloured vest wielding a whip in his right hand. The close shots show John Blair (John Wayne) wearing a dark coloured vest and with both hands holding reins. See more »
"Winds of the Wasteland" was made following the 1935 merger of Lone Star/Monogram and Mascot Pictures into Republic Pictures. With the added resources of the old Mascot serial group, the production values of John Wayne's series improved greatly. The budgets were certainly bigger and that can be seen in this particular entry.
The story has two ex Pony Express riders, John Craig (Wayne) and Larry Adams (Lane Chander) starting up a stagecoach line. They are duped into signing an agreement with bad guy Drake (Douglas Cosgrove) to operate the line between two towns one of which is deserted except for the disgruntled doctor (Sam Flint) and jack of all trades Rocky (Lew Kelly).
Doc's daughter Barbara (Phyllis Fraser) arrives unannounced and tries to convince her father to return east with her. Craig convinces them to remain and await the results of the upcoming stagecoach race for a $25,000 mail contract. Drake, along with his henchmen Bob Kortman and Yakima Canutt, among others, try to thwart our hero at every turn.
The highlight of the film, and a sequence that sets it apart, is the climatic and very well staged race between Drake's coach and that of Craig. Veteran director Mack V. Wright gives us plenty of action and a realistic race to boot. Having Yakima Canutt around meant many visually exciting stunts. The outcome of the race of course is never in doubt nor is the fate of the villains.
Jon Hall (using the name Charles Lochner), appears briefly at the beginning of the movie as a Pony Express rider who is seen talking to Wayne and Chandler. Also in the same sequence is veteran "B" western performer Ed Cassidy.
This was one of the best of Wayne's early "B" westerns.
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