Gunsmoke Ranch (1937) Poster

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Routine B western mainly for fans of The Three Mesquiteers
krorie3 March 2006
Republic's Three Mesquiteers series (51 in all) was popular in its day and remains one of the most memorable of them all. Based on characters created by William Colt MacDonald who in turn was inspired by the original Three Musketeers from the classic 19th century novel by Alexandre Dumas, the idea is: One for all and all for one. The cowboy trio usually consisted of a lover, a scrapper, and a jokester. Robert Livinston starred in the series from the beginning as the dashing man on the white horse Stony Brooke. He appeared in 39 of the 51 features. He was spelled for awhile by none other than John Wayne himself, before the Duke made a splash with "Stagecoach." Ray "Crash" Corrigan was Tucson Smith from the beginning of the series in 1936. He ultimately portrayed the "middle cowboy" in 24 outings. In the first of the Three Mesquiteers films, Syd Saylor played Lullaby Joslin. After only one film, Saylor was replaced by Max Terhune, who had an unusual talent for a comical sidekick. He was a ventriloquist. Elmer the dummy became somewhat of a 4th Mesquiteer, or was Terhune the dummy?...never mind. This trio stayed together for fourteen movies (1936-1938). "Gunsmoke Ranch" was their fifth oater. These Three Mesquiteers are the ones most fans remember best.

As with many Hollywood films from the days of the Great Depression, Roosevelt's New Deal is promoted. Keeping it as apolitical as possible, no mention is made of FDR or any of his programs. Flood control and with it cheap electricity was one of the main planks in Roosevelt's restructuring of the American economy. A devastating flood forces farmers to pull up steaks and head for Gunsmoke Valley, Arizona, where they can start anew on land each bought from the unscrupulous Realtor and land developer Phineas T. Flagg (even the name sounds lowdown and mean), played with verve by Kenneth Harlan. Naturally one of the farmers has a beautiful daughter, Marion (Jean Carmen). It doesn't take Stony long to start drooling and howling at the moon. Tucson and Lullaby do their best to thwart their saddle pal's efforts to win the damsel's hand. The farmers discover that the land has been condemned so the government can flood it when a dam is built. To keep the farmers from being swindled out of their land, the Three Mesquiteers take charge. There lies the rest of the movie.

There's usually plenty of action in any Republic shoot-'em-up. This one is no exception, except most of the action comes with a big shootout near the end with lots of dare devil stunts. Yakima Canutt is on hand to make sure all the tricks of the trade are utilized to make the action exciting and realistic. Canutt even plays one of the henchmen. He's the one who throws the first egg during the big street brawl.

By this time, the singing cowboy craze was taking off. A popular radio singer and recording artist named Gene Autry was beginning to change the direction of B westerns by always performing many of his songs, or introducing new ones, in his films. To roll with the flow Stony attempts to sing a ballad called "When the Campfire is Low on the Prairie." Needless to say, Gene didn't have a thing to worry about. Fans were quick to throw water on the campfire. Not until Roy Rogers (and to some extent Tex Ritter) began plying his trade did Gene have any serious rival. One song that Gene sang early in his career, "That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine," is used briefly in the film during the social gathering just before Stony sings. The old standard "When You and I Were Young, Maggie" is a sing-a-long near the beginning of the flick.

Lullaby and his dummy Elmer are satisfactory in the humor department but a couple of clowns billed as Oscar and Elmer are lame by today's standards and that's being kind. Elmer's character is now politically incorrect. Audiences who saw this when it was first released probably found Oscar and Elmer hilarious. Several comedians in those days used stuttering as a gimmick to get laughs. Porky Pig is a classic example of utilizing stuttering to provoke laughter. Even as late as 1992 Austin Pendleton cracked up viewers with his stuttering in "My Cousin Vinny."

There should be more action and less talk and romance in "Gunsmoke Ranch," but it's still worthwhile for B western fans. Those who enjoy the Three Mesquiteers should find this entry acceptable, though not up to par for the series.
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Rather Routine, But Watchable
Snow Leopard31 March 2004
This 'Three Mesquiteers' feature is a fair B-Western, rather routine, and with quite a low-budget look to it, but watchable. It has generally likable, if ordinary, characters, and the story holds some interest. It has some lighter moments and just enough action to keep it moving along.

The story has the 'Mesquiteers' running across a new town that is being built to help out some settlers who have been displaced by a flood. The trio start to suspect that something might not be what it seems, so they stick around to look into things, and the action proceeds from there, with some occasional humor (much of it from Max Terhune). Some of it works, and some of it doesn't really come off. Overall, there's not too much that's either especially good or especially bad about this one.
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Could have been closer to great without the "comedy"
Michael Morrison27 February 2009
Watching this movie at is probably not the best way to see it, but it beats the heck out of not seeing it.

My connection (DSL) created some jumpiness, but there was still a lot of quality visible, from a story by the great Oliver Drake, to directing by the equally great Joseph Kane.

Of course the Three Mesquiteers, the almost original threesome (Terhune, Corrigan, Livingston), are nearly always watchable, so the ingredients are there for a very good movie.

To be honest, I rated it higher than I felt what I saw deserved, with my jumpy connection and the abysmal attempts at "comedy," but, still, it's the Mesquiteers and Drake and Kane, and some great stunt work (the unsurpassed Yakima Canutt) and great camera angles, and what was apparently great stock footage in spots, and an exciting score by the great Raoul Kraushaar.

With all that, it is definitely a must-see for western fans, for Republic fans, and for Mesquiteers fans. And for Kraushaar fans, including me.
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"Do we look like the kind of fellas that would start a riot?"
classicsoncall13 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Well you've heard it said before, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. In this case, flooded out landowners are offered the opportunity for 'Free Ranches - No Money Down - Twenty Years to Pay' by the unscrupulous Phineas T. Flagg (Kenneth Harlan) if they pack up and head for Gunsmoke Valley, Arizona. Right off the bat, the terms 'free' and 'twenty years to pay' seem mutually exclusive, but what the heck, you've got to have a story in here somewhere.

For Three Mesquiteers fans, this one also offers a bit of a head scratcher when Lullaby Joslin (Max Terhune) walks into a general store and buys his dummy Elmer, seemingly for the first time. Actually, Elmer was around since their first picture, even if Terhune wasn't. Syd Saylor portrayed Lullaby in the very first Mesquiteers film, and was then replaced by Terhune for a very long stretch of twenty one pictures. "Gunsmoke Ranch" was the sixth film in the fifty one movie franchise.

Besides Lullaby and Elmer, there was some additional comic relief provided here by a couple of characters named Oscar and Elmer Twiddlebaum, though one might question their effectiveness. Oscar (Ed Platt) was just plain hokey, and Elmer (Lou Fulton) did a stuttering gimmick that appears rather demeaning today. I couldn't help thinking that Elmer might have been the inspiration for Warner Brothers' Porky Pig; if you close your eyes and listen you'd swear you were hearing the cartoon.

For all their trouble in trying to warn the newly arrived citizens of Gunsmoke Valley, you would think the Mesquiteers would have been given a warm reception, but instead, the town folk stand by their benefactor Flagg. It'll take at least another half hour for the boys to whip things into gear to save the new town of Three Score and Ten from their own intransigence. It all comes to a head in a fairly wild finale with your traditional shoot 'em up and some well staged action sequences. B Western fans will recognize the guiding hand of Yakima Canutt behind the exciting stunt work, who also doubles as Flagg henchman Spider.
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Okay B-Western
FightingWesterner14 April 2010
Ray Corrigan, Robert Livingston, and Max Terhune try to prevent a crooked real estate tycoon from swindling a group of displaced flood victims by selling them worthless farm land for twenty-five times the original price as part of a bigger scheme.

Another light-weight, but watchable entry in Republic Pictures' Three Mesquiteers series, this one has the usual good photography, humor, and decent action scenes, including a good climax. Particularly enjoyable is the excellent rocky desert scenery.

It's not the best or most memorable Mesquiteers adventure. However, it's fun while it lasts, with scene-stealing Terhune and his dummy getting the best moments this time around.
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True to form
bkoganbing15 January 2015
I'm sure this particular Three Mesquiteer film resonated well with people in the dust bowl. Though it's not The Grapes Of Wrath, Gunsmoke Ranch is about people dispossessed from their land and at the mercy of one ruthless conman.

People have been flooded out of their homes in the Mississippi Valley and have headed west for a new start as they've taken an option on land in the far west. Robert Livingston, Ray Corrigan, and Max Terhune however know the man behind the scheme and its Kenneth Harlan who they know to be a conman.

Harlan runs true to form and when the new arrivals have made sufficient improvements he plans to sell the land to the state for a new dam and he can get a lot more back on improved land.

I'm sure that every farmer who was dispossessed of his land due to flood or drought or whatever wanted to kill Harlan who watched this film in 1937. Very rarely do B westerns deal with modern relevant topics and this one is not only good but a rarity.
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Two things really hurt this film....
MartinHafer20 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen a lot of the Three Mesquiteers films--especially the ones starring Livingston, Corrigan and Terhune. So, I know that their films can certainly be better than this one. However, two big problems made this tough viewing. One is Elmer. No, I am not talking about Terhune's ventriloquist dummy by the same name (though he was always an unwelcome addition to their films), but a guy whose act is to do the most annoying and unfunny stuttering acts you could possibly see and hear. The guy stuttered MUCH worse than Porky Pig and it seemed cruel and unfunny--and completely unnecessary to the film. Second, the towns people were just too dumb--way too dumb.

The film begins with lots of stock footage of flooding. The film concerns a group of folks who lost everything in these storms. A benefactor comes forward and offers to take them all out West to a new community he's building--and all at very, very low prices. But the guy is really a land swindler--and he's done it before and it's obvious he's about to do it again. When the perennial do-gooders, the Mesquiteers, find out, they go to warn the folks--who immediately mistreat them and treat them like lepers. Why, then, did the trio stay and help them out when they realized they were being swindled?! I felt that this was handled VERY poorly. The townsfolk reaction was bizarre and the Mesquiteers reaction to this was also quite odd. Still, if you love these films, this one is worth seeing and rather typical--but certainly more flawed than usual. If you aren't a fan...steer clear!
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Gunsmoke Ranch 1937
thedon19403 February 2011
These B-westerns were a staple of my diet as a kid growing up in the 40s and even the 1950's. We played outside all the time and there was no T.V. to watch so the movies became Radio come to life. We could see the action and not just hear it. Cowboys weren't that far fetched in those days as lots of large ranches were still running beef cattle in the western states so to see cowboys on the screen was to live the life. Mostly old timers like myself will enjoy Gunsmoke Ranch but if you sit down with your grandchild (and they are young enough) to watch don't be surprised if they like it too. Don't be too critical and remember this little studio made this on a very small budget.
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Gunsmoke Ranch was cute but only mildly entertaining
ameslan-113 November 2006
This was a cute movie - good for relaxing. Some of the comedy wasn't. It was like a bit of corn, so if you are hungry, watch this movie. If you want to relax - watch this movie. It was mildly humorous, but was interesting to watch the old time acting and their concepts of "acting." Today they would not cut it. I would say it is more of a novelty to watch to see differences in quality compared to today's movies. I watched this movie and saved it on PVR. Decided not worth keeping. Just a cute type of movie. located. Maybe we could move there.

Typical guy woos girl plot. Could use new plots, with shocker endings.

Nice background - I always watch the background. Nice scenery. The town (Set) was nice too. Looked like a nice place to live. But, sadly, there was no such place as Gunsmoke Valley. I googled it, that is how I found this movie title. Wish there was someone who knows where this movie was
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I feel shystered myself!
Spuzzlightyear27 September 2005
Pretty funny-bad Western here, which feature that all-time famous (sarcasm) trio, The Three Mesquiteers, as they help people who have just escaped a flood (which caused DESOLATION, PESTILATION and FAMINE, (so say the cue cards). They are offered ranch land in Arizona by a unscrupulous shyster, and it's up to the three to make sure Justice Is Served! So in less in an hour, we have laughably bad fights, a joke of a song, scary stunt handling, a guy doing a non-stop comedy routine with a dummy, and rather offensive jibes at stuttering people. All this, and this rather curious confusion with the 1930's wardrobe mixed in with western drag. Highly strange, but not really worth your time.
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