|Index||3 reviews in total|
"Borderland" offered William Boyd to play against type and be nasty to all
around including his two sidekicks Johnny Nelson (Jimmy Ellison) and Windy
Halliday (George "Gabby" Hayes).
Hoppy is sent undercover to infiltrate the organization of a gang of outlaws headed by "The Fox" (Stephen Morris). He agrees to turn against all of his friends in an effort to convince the outlaws that he is on the level. "The Fox" meanwhile masquerades as the town idiot Loco. Hoppy gradually gains the confidence of the gang but is discovered by Loco before he can bring him in.
Boyd must have enjoyed this one. He gets to belly up to the bar and have a few drinks and even gets nasty with a little girl (the charming Charlene Wyatt). Morris (aka Morris Ankrum) equally has a hoot playing the dim-witted Loco.
According to Phil Hardy in his book "The Western", this film with a running time of 82 minutes was the longest of any series western.
Jimmy Ellison left the series after this film. Hayes still hadn't adopted the "Gabby" moniker at this point. Others in the cast include Trevor Bardette as a Mexican Colonel and the venerable George Chesebro as one of Morris' henchmen.
Unlike most Hopalong Cassidy movies, Borderland shows how well William Boyd
can act. The same also goes for Gabby Hayes. In the movie, Hoppy attempts to
infiltrate a gang of cattle rustlers whose leader, Fox (appropriately
named), has been able to escape detection or capture. Hoppy has been "hired"
by the Texas Rangers to track down this gang and its leader. In order to
make himself credible to the gang, Hoppy acts and behaves as miserably as he
can. Even with close friends such as Jimmy Ellison and Gabby Hayes, he
appears very crusty and obnoxious, all in an attempt to appear convincing to
the local townsfolk, some of whom are members of the Fox gang. Even with a
very friendly woman and her young daughter, Hoppy is quite
What is interesting about the movie is how close Boyd comes to destroying a
very popular figure during the 1930s. One can imagine tears flowing from the
young audiences of that day because of the reaction of the main characters
to Hoppy's demeanor as well as being shocked at the contrast in character to
the one William Boyd had cultivated over the years.
Another interesting sidelite to viewers, but probably unnoticed by the
moviegowers of the day is the leg brace worn by the little girl in the
movie. No mention of her handicap is mentioned in the movie, so I concluded
that the girl had had polio, a common affliction at that time.
If you want to see a completly different Hopalong Cassidy movie, check this one out.
A bandit known as the Fox is leading his band of outlaws burning ranches, rustling cattle, and committing all other sorts of crimes on both the US and Mexican border. Colonel Gonzales, of the Mexican Secret Service, and Major Stafford of the Texas Rangers devise a plan to have Ranger Johnny Nelson arrest Hoppy and have him (unknown to everyone except Col. Gonzalez, Maj. Stafford, and Hoppy) go undercover as an outlaw, be discredited and join the Fox's gang, despite having to go against his character by yelling at everyone from Johnny, Windy, boarding house owner Grace Rand, and her handicapped daughter Molly. Unknown to Hoppy, the Fox is really Loco, the village idiot who is able to find out all sorts of information and pass it on to henchmen Parker and Morgan (who introduces himself as the contact between him and the Fox.) The Fox later suspects that Hoppy is playing a trick with his bad guy persona, and kidnaps Windy and Molly taking them to his shack in the desert. Hoppy follows along, but can he overcome the Fox having his two friends hostage and Morgan and other henchmen racing in the cabin for a shootout. A very different and excellent entry in the series with great performances by the entire cast. Boyd is able to brilliantly go against the Hoppy character that we all are familiar with. Ankrum is able to be sinister (which he always did well) throughout playing both the Fox and Loco. Stunningly photographed and the direction by Watt creates lots of suspense and action, even though at 82 minutes (the longest Hoppy film) there are several slow stops, but is countered by the tense filled climax (perhaps the best of any Hoppy film). Rating, based on B westerns, 9.
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