The Eagle uses sky writing to make threats against a corporation. Nathan Gregory owns a traveling fairground and is thought to be the Eagle. Craig McCoy is a pilot who goes looking for the Eagle when Gregory turns up missing.
B. Reeves Eason
When transplanted Texan Bob Seton arrives in Lawrence, Kansas he finds much to like about the place, especially Mary McCloud, daughter of the local banker. Politics is in the air however. ... See full summary »
Imprisoned for a murder he did not commit, John Brant escapes and ends up out west where, after giving the local lawmen the slip, he joins up with an outlaw gang. Brant finds out that '... See full summary »
In 1889 pioneers race ahead of the law to claim free land in Oklahoma, forming wide-open towns. In one such, citizens elect Milt Dawson to challenge the self-appointed rule of gambler Ace ... See full summary »
Sent to find counterfeiters, John Wyatt joins Doc Carter's medicine show. They arrive in the town where Curly Joe runs his counterfeiting operation. Carter was once framed by Curly Joe and ... See full summary »
Bad guy Kincaid controls the local water supply and plans to do in the other ranchers. Government agent Saunders shows up undercover to do in Kincaid and win the heart of one of his victims Fay Denton.
Chris Morrell, the guardian of half-Indian girl Nina, is helping her find her missing white father. so she can cash in on her late mother's oil lease. Outlaw Sam Black is after the girl and... See full summary »
Harry L. Fraser
Shirley Jean Rickert
Kit Madden is traveling to Hollywood, where her best-selling novel is to be filmed. Aboard the train, she encounters Marines Rusty and Dink, who don't know she is the author of the famous ... See full summary »
Boston pharmacist Tom Craig comes to Sacramento, where he runs afoul of local political boss Britt Dawson, who exacts protection payment from the citizenry. Dawson frames Craig with ... See full summary »
U.S. Army Captain John Delmont takes a leave of absence to find out what happened to his missing father. Later he leads a wagon train to California and goes after the bad guys involved in his father's disappearance.
Joseph W. Girard
California Straight Ahead finds John Wayne as a school bus driver turned truck driver. The film was one of a series of six films that John Wayne made for Universal Pictures that was an attempt to broaden his acting horizons. Not one of these films that he did for Universal was a western.
Though this one does have some western like elements. The final climax has Wayne leading a wagon train like caravan of big rigs trying to beat the railroad to the Pacific Coast before a longshoreman's strike commences is definitely western like in its presentation for the screen.
California Straight Ahead also bears no small resemblance to the working stiff pictures that were more popular at Warner Brothers. Wayne's in a part that Pat O'Brien normally would have played. If the film had been done at MGM, Spencer Tracy would have been cast.
The Duke does not do badly as the happy go lucky Biff Smith who's a lazy fellow with little ambition, content to be a school bus driver. He's got a thing for Louise Latimer, but his lack of ambition distresses her mother, Grace Goodall, to no end. He actually gets himself canned from that job when he helps Latimer's brother, Emerson Treacy, get his cargo to Chicago after villain LeRoy Mason disables Treacy's truck. Wayne and Treacy form a partnership that later includes Harry Allen.
Mason was no stranger to John Wayne films, he appeared in several of Wayne's films as a western villain right up to and including some Three Mesquiteers series. Allen has a nice part, he plays cockney- accented James McCorkle, though there's no explanation as to how he landed from Piccadilly in the American mid-west.
California Straight Ahead, despite some big holes in the plot, is not a bad film for John Wayne. Considering some of the hard driving parts he mostly played, those early scenes in this film were something I had never witnessed from him before, even though he does eventually grow into the usual Duke character. That opening with him driving the school bus and the kids singing almost looks like the setting of a number from a Bing Crosby film.
The film's not great, but it's an interesting part for the Duke.
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