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Thunder Trail (1937)

Approved | | Action, Western | 22 October 1937 (USA)
A wagon train is robbed by a gang of bandits who kill everyone but a pair of young brothers. Years later, the brothers join force to bring the bandits' leader to justice.



(story "Arizona Ames"), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Lee Tate
Amy Morgan
Rafael Lopez
Bob Tate
Jeff Graves
Jim Morgan
Bob at 8
John Ames
Gene Reynolds ...
Richard Ames at 14


When a wagon team headed by John Ames (William Duncan),loaded with gold and heading for California, is ambushed by Lee Tate (Charles Bickford) and his renegades, only Dick Ames (Gene Reynolds) and Bob Ames (Billy Lee), John's two young sons escape. Bob is taken away by Tate, who brings him up as his own son. Dick, left for dead, witnesses the massacre, and is later found by Rafael Lopez (J. Carroll Naish), a Mexican prospector. Years later, Dick (Gilbert Roland), now known as "Arizona", and Lopez ride into a small town where Tate and his men are running things their own way. He is engaged in stealing a gold mine owned by Jim Morgan (Barlowe Borland) and his daughter Amy (Marsga Hunt), when "Arizona" recognizes him as the man that led the massacre years before. He is trying to find proof of Tate's guilt when he is confronted by Bob (James Craig), who starts a fight with him. "Arizona", during the fight, recognizes Bob as his brother by an old scar. Bob joins "Arizona" in his fight ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Thrilling adventure romance! (original 1937 UK poster)


Action | Western


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Release Date:

22 October 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Arizona Ames  »

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Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The 20 Zane Grey stories sold by Paramount to Favorite Films for theatrical re-release, and then to Unity Television Corporation for television broadcast are as follows: The Light of Western Stars/Winning the West (1930), Fighting Caravans/Blazing Arrows (1931), Heritage of the Desert/When the West Was Young (1932), The Mysterious Rider/The Fighting Phantom (1933), The Thundering Herd/Buffalo Stampede (1933), Man of the Forest/Challenge of the Frontier (1933), To the Last Man/Law of Vengeance (1933), Wagon Wheels/Caravans West (1934), Rocky Mountain Mystery/The Fighting Westerner (1935), Drift Fence/Texas Desperadoes (1936), Desert Gold/Desert Storm (1936), The Arizona Raiders/Bad Men of Arizona (1936), Arizona Mahoney/Arizona Thunderbolt (1936), Forlorn River/River of Destiny (1937), Thunder Trail/Thunder Pass (1937), Born to the West/Hell Town (1937), The Mysterious Rider/Mark of the Avenger (1938), Heritage of the Desert/Heritage of the Plains (1939), Knights of the Range/Bad Men of Nevada (1940), and The Light of Western Stars/Border Renegade (1940). See more »

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User Reviews

Early Latino Hero
2 May 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Although this is one of a series of B films that Paramount was making out of Zane Grey western novels, it's one of the best of the adaptations that Paramount did. An outlaw gang led by Charles Bickford massacres a small wagon train heading back from the gold fields. All are killed except young Gene Reynolds who was out hunting some game and his little brother Billy Lee who was hidden in a wagon and didn't see who did the crime. Bickford adopts Billy Lee who grows up to be James Craig. Reynolds after seeing the massacre and the man responsible wanders through the night and comes across the campfire of J. Carrol Naish, a Mexican prospector. Naish raises him and he grows up to be Gilbert Roland.

J. Carrol Naish was a remarkable character actor who could play every kind of nationality and adopt every kind of dialect imaginable. He played many a Latino on screen, but he was just about everything else except Irish which is what he really was. His face never became known, but his casting potential was unlimited.

Of course hanging around Naish while growing up the Anglo Gene Reynolds grew up to sound like Gilbert Roland. This in itself was remarkable. Probably Mexicans were the most common western villain in the silent era and that continued on, somewhat lessened when sound came on the scene. Having Latin lovers as heroes of which Gilbert Roland first made his mark lessened the use of Mexican villains to a large degree. But a Latino hero in a western film was certainly unusual in 1937. And of course Gilbert Roland played the greatest Latino western hero of all in some Cisco Kid films in the following decade.

Roland was always a particular favorite of mine. In every kind of part he did over a long career he always played it with a twinkle in the eye that was infectious. You can't help, but like the guy even when he's a villain which occasionally he was.

He's the reason I'm glad this particular film has been preserved on VHS.

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