Halstead forces the Land Agent to alter the records and then kicks the Mexicans off their land. Buck has been sent to investigate and quickly joins up with Juan Cantova in the fight against...
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Halstead forces the Land Agent to alter the records and then kicks the Mexicans off their land. Buck has been sent to investigate and quickly joins up with Juan Cantova in the fight against Halstead. To keep Buck from seeing the records, Halstead has the Agent murdered. His men then claim Juan killed him and both Buck and Juan then find themselves wanted dead or alive. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Action-filled Buck Jones oater with social message
This Buck Jones outing has to do with California becoming a state right after the Gold Rush and emphasizes the anti-Mexican nativism rampant in those days in an area that once belonged to Mexico. Much that is included in this film would be considered politically incorrect in today's Hollywood, even though this racism is still there, usually in a more covert form. Buck is sent undercover by the U.S. government to investigate the situation in California concerning reports of illegal action by settlers against Mexicans who are now living in territory belonging to the United States. Their land claims are based on old Spanish land grants, not on United States land titles. Buck finds a band of outlaws headed by Mal Halstead, played by the great character actor Milburn Stone (Doc Adams of "Gunsmoke") in one of his early roles. Fans of "Gunsmoke" get to see Doc as a nasty villain rather than as a beloved folk hero. Buck attempts to get the goods on the wily gang while befriending the set upon Cantova family which includes a lovely senorita, Dolores Cantova (Carmen Bailey), and her fiery brother, Juan Cantova (José Pérez), who is determined to fight for his rights and to avenge his father's death. His father was Father Miguel Cantova. So the Catholic religion plays an important part in the lives of the Cantova family. The mission bells are used throughout the movie, usually tolling the death of a Cantova.
When viewing a Buck Jones movie, one can always count on a good deal of humor. Even though Buck sometimes used a sidekick such as the unforgettable Hank Worden for comic relief, Buck himself was always the clown. He had a good sense of comic timing. Even without a sidekick, as in this movie, he provided enough humor to keep the audience laughing. The comic highlight of "California Frontier" is a hilarious barroom brawl between Buck and a saloon full of pint-sized man hunters out to collect the reward on Buck's head. The brawl goes on for quite some time with Buck tossing the pint-sized pugilists heather and yon until it all culminates in a huge dog pile with Buck supposedly at the bottom. Someone runs for the sheriff telling him they have captured the notorious Buck Pearson. When the sheriff, played with tongue in cheek by western favorite Tom London, unravels the dog pile he finds one of the pint-sized man hunters at the bottom with the town drunk clinging onto his leg with all his might. Buck has already slipped out the back and ridden away on Silver. Sheriff London looks at the pint-sized drunk and wryly comments, "I don't think Buck Pearson was ever even here."
There's plenty of action, lots of fun, all wrapped up neatly with an anti-nativism message in this Buck Jones Oater. Buck doesn't ride off into the sunset alone. He stands at attention as the beautiful Dolores gives him a kiss while General Wyatt makes arrangements for the big wedding.
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