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The Three Mesquiteers nearly come to an end over Rita Hayworth and a
horse. Depends on your point of view as to who caused more ruckus.
First there's the horse, a beautiful wild animal called the pinto stallion. He leads a herd of wild horses which are now protected by law by the government. Some dastardly villains want to shoot the wild ones like The Misfits for dog food. They train a black horse and paint him to look like the pinto so he can start stirring up the other rancher's horses. On one raid, the sheriff is trampled to death by the ersatz pinto. Robert Livingston believes in the horse's innocence, but Ray Corrigan and Max Terhune want him done in and Corrigan's the sheriff.
And then there's the matter of Rita Hayworth or as she was known at this point in her career, Rita Cansino. Rita and Livingston want to get married. The other two Mesquiteers have no use for her and think she's a goldigger. This part of the plot may have been the basis for the Gunga Din story that RKO did two years later.
So who does Livingston wind up with, Rita or the pinto stallion? For that you have to view this film of The Three Mesquiteers series.
It was exciting to see Bob Livingston in this entry.
It must be years since I last saw him in anything, but especially in a Three Mesquiteers.
His portrayal of Stony Brooke had always been the definitive one to me and, much as I love John Wayne, the Mesquiteers were not the same with him in the Brooke role.
This is a different Stony from any other characterization I have seen.
This movie had a little bit of everything, and managed to be enough different to warrant watching, except, perhaps, to the jaded.
There are gunfights; there is a saloon brawl; there is a dancing girl (played by someone named Margarita Cansino, a good-looking actress with some apparent dancing ability; whatever happened to her?).
There are wild horses and a good battle between two of them.
Tucson Smith was the leader in the stories as written originally by William Colt MacDonald, and in this movie he is. It's a good opportunity for Crash Corrigan and he makes the most of it.
Yak Canutt is one of the bad guys and, of course, the lead stunt man, and no one ever did it better.
Harry Tenbrook, of whom I know nothing, gets a good part as another bad guy, sort of the foreman, and is interesting enough I wonder why we didn't see him more often.
"Hit the Saddle" is another miserable generic title, and surely the producers could have found one more appropriate. However, that's my only complaint (except for the intendedly "funny" ending that wasn't) and I recommend this movie.
To be honest, I'll always recommend the Three Mesquiteers, and always recommend anything with Crash Corrigan.
P.S. Just in case: Of course I know Margarita Cansino became Rita Hayworth. I was just trying to be cute.
Prohibited from taking wild horses off government lands, a villainous
rancher uses a trained horse to wreak havoc and clear the way for him
to take all the "nuisance" horses he wants. Meanwhile, Ray Corrigan,
Bob Livingston, and Max Terhune are at odds over Bob's romance with
beautiful gold-digger Rita Hayworth.
This interesting, above average entry in Republic Pictures' Three Mesquiteers series is more offbeat than usual, with the unique premise of a horse being being used as a weapon to kick someone to death, Livingston's brooding performance, and a rare note of discontent among the three friends.
In fact, the story is solid enough to have been turned (with a little work) into an A-list western!
A satisfying climax features good animal footage and a neat stunt in which Yakima Canutt takes a dive off some steep rocks.
My only complaint is that Hayworth's unpleasant character takes the money and runs instead of getting her just desserts. The finale should have shown her in New York, trying and failing to cash Corrigan's rubber check!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The fifth 'Three Mesquiters' Republic western has some unusual
elements. Rita Cansino (Hayworth) is prominently featured as Stony
Brooke's 'future wife'; Stony and Tucson have a major falling out, and
a pinto stallion is put on trial for murder.
In a buddy movie there's no room for wives (at least in the 1930s and 40s). Rita plays a saloon dancer, Rita, who plans to marry Stony (Robert Livingston). Naturally, Tucson (Ray 'Crash' Corrigan) and Lullaby (Max Terhume) think she's a 'gold digger,' and ultimately Lullaby scares her (and pays her) off. Stony and Tucson come to blows over Rita, and they don't get along for most of the movie, for this and another reason.
You see, a pinto stallion has been accused of killing the sheriff, who was the Mesquiters best friend. Tucson becomes the new sheriff bent on capturing the stallion, but Stony feels the horse is innocent, especially when they discover the pinto has no horseshoes and the sheriff was killed by a shod horse.
Of course, it was the villain who had painted a devil horse, Volcano, to look like a pinto, and Volcano had actually killed the sheriff. The movie should really have been called, "The Trial of the Pinto Stallion,' since Stony tries to defend the horse in jail to prevent Tucson from having it killed. Stony later quits the Mesquiters to join up with the evil Rance McGowan (J.P.McGowan), as their bad feelings towards each other escalate.
The movie is watchable to see actual, not pretended, bad feelings emerge among the three heroes; and, of course, to see Rita Hayworth who sings a duet with Stony, and performs a dance to 'La Cucaracha.' Her dance moves, however, are pretty much the same ones she shows in 'Trouble in Texas' (1937) and even in 'Gilda' (1946), when she must have been the Farrah Fawcett-Majors of the 1940s with all that hair being tousled, flounced, flipped and spun while she was on screen whether dancing or not.
Yakima Canutt appears and does his 'usual' amazing stunt work. There seems to be some snatches of music later used in 'Zorro's Fighting Legion' (1939).
Despite all of the above, the movie only gets a four and half.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's still a mystery to me why Robert Livingston got top billing in the
Three Mesquiteers flicks. Ray Corrigan had more charisma, was taller,
better built and better looking, and just naturally appeared to be the
leader of the trio. In this flick, Corrigan's character Stony Brooke
even breaks ranks with his buddies, not that I blame him when it comes
to the pretty senorita Rita Cansino. That would be Rita Hayworth for
you non-Western fans, a genre in which she made a few early appearances
while getting her career under way. You can catch her in the Tex Ritter
film "Trouble in Texas", where she also does some singing and dancing,
managing to stand out like so few female leads in these kinds of
As for the Mesquiteers, they're off to a bumpy start with Stony on the outs with Tucson Smith (Corrigan) for most of the picture. Besides Rita, he's also defending a pinto stallion falsely accused of running a herd of wild horses responsible for death and destruction in their wake. Now just when I think I've seen about everything you can imagine after watching a few hundred Westerns, this one promotes the unlikely premise of the bad guys actually painting a horse to create a false identity! You read that right, painting a horse! I always thought the term 'paint' to describe a multicolored horse a bit of a misnomer, but this one set me straight, that's for sure.
The idea behind this whole ruse was for villain McGowan (J.P. McGowan) to get a ban lifted against capturing wild range horses. With a contract to round up a thousand head, this was a quick buck he wasn't going to let slip away. Besides henchmen Harry Tenbrook and Yakima Canutt, McGowan's own horse Volcano was the linchpin of this operation masquerading as the pinto. Volcano and the paint wound up doing some serious battle once the action got under way, making me wonder how they managed to get the horses to mix it up the way they did.
Fortunately, things wind up in favor of the Mesquiteers; Stony and Tucson eventually patch things up with a little help from Lullaby (Max Terhune) at the finale. For his part, Lullaby manages a couple of quick bits with his wooden dummy Elmer. Rita didn't stick around till the end of the story, as she took the money and ran when Tucson and Lullaby bribed her to go back East and leave Stony to come to his senses. Some pals!
This film answers the question about a cowboy's greater love: for his woman or for his horse? Although the bond with his woman exceeds those between Stony and the other Mesquiteers (Tuscon and Lullaby), after THEY pay her to leave, Stony's still stickin' up for the horse. And rightly so. The horse ACCUSED of being violent, was actually framed by a TRAINED horse, owned by a guy who wants the protection of hundreds of wild equines to be lifted so that he can round 'em up. Stony does a duet with his girlfriend, billed as Rita Cansino, who later became better known as Rita Hayworth. But, to hell with her...it's the HORSE that's important: an example of the order of priorities which is responsible for my opinion about this movie: things somewhat outta place.
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