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This one should be billed as a Western/Comedy, because there's that much attempt at humor in an old west setting. It involves an undercover Buck and Skeeter looking into the overnight disappearances of entire railcarsful of cattle. While getting to the bottom of this dilemma, they run afoul of the law a couple of times, have some girl fun, and try to perfect telling tall tales. Some purposely laughable dialogue, even if certain situations are a bit contrived. As far as being entertaining goes, I rate this as slightly above-average.
If you have never seen a Buck Jones western, you're in for a treat.
Buck was one of the few cowboy stars of the silent era, including Tom
Mix, who made the transition to talkies to continue to be a western
hero during the days of the Great Depression. He was still going
strong, even with his age beginning to show and tell, until his tragic
death in the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub fire in Boston in 1942. An added
treat this go around is the marvelous Hank Worden playing the comical
sidekick Skeeter. Worden who is now world famous for playing Mose in
John Ford's western classic "The Searchers," was still making movies
when he died at the ripe old age of 91. You'll enjoy Skeeter's antics,
especially when he tries to mount a running horse on takeoff in the
manner of his saddle mate Buck.
What may surprise the viewer about a Buck Jones film is the humor that is passed around. As the great Jimmy Durante used to say, "Everybody tries to get in on the act." Buck himself is just as funny and has as many comeback lines as does Skeeter. In one scene when Buck and Skeeter are set up by the crooked station master, Skeeter turns off the lights while Buck is reading. Buck retorts, "Don't mind me. I went to night school." In most of the Buck Jones movies from this period Buck plays it just as silly as his sidekick in the first part of the film so the outlaws will think he's an incompetent dunce. He catches them off guard in the end and turns out to be a tough hombre to deal with. In "Stranger from Arizona" Buck's humor continues to the end. In the last scene with his stringy hair covering most of his face and his hat tie across his nose he looks like Fredric March doing a spoof of his Mr. Hyde character. Even the fights and chases are funny. There is one hilarious scene when Buck and Skeeter are chasing a shadowy figure through a trot and around a building and end up chasing each other. The perennial villain Roy Barcroft, though playing his role straight, gets in on the comedy during a barroom brawl when Buck whips a whole passel of bad guys, then tells the sheriff, "You never know how one of these fights is going to come out." Skeeter counters, "At least I didn't start this one," even though Buck had rescued him from the baddies.
The plot is typical B western with the boss outlaw and his henchmen stealing cattle from the ranchers including a pretty ranch owner Anne Turner (Dorothy Fay) who hires Buck and Skeeter to help her out. The cattle already loaded disappear along with the boxcar. This adds an element of mystery to the story. Buck does play a stranger in town. His real reason for being there is revealed toward the end of the film. But I don't remember that he ever said he was from Arizona. Still, the title "The Stranger from Arizona" is not too far off base this time, unlike most titles for B westerns.
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