|Index||5 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Set in 1861 Missouri at the outset of the Civil War, it's a toss up as
to how the state will side during the great conflict. Officially a
Union state, sympathies lie with the Southern cause, and when news of
the attack on Fort Sumter breaks, cheers break out for the Confederacy
at the garden party of Dr. Jason Bradford. Roy Rogers and Gabby
Whittaker (Gabby Hayes) are sympathizers who become scouts for the
Confederate Army, and their mission is to bring a guerrilla outlaw to
justice. Val McBride wears a Confederate uniform, but his band of
mercenaries would rather loot Federal supply trains and civilian
ranchers, taking advantage of the conflict to enrich themselves.
It wasn't unusual for Charlie Chan films of the same era to make racial references, taking jabs at blacks as well as Orientals. This is the first time I've encountered it in a 'B' Western. There's a scene where Roy enters the Radford home and is greeted by the black maid Mammy Lou. When he comments that she's looking well, Mammy Lou replies - "Maybe I am, but I'm feelin' kind of pale."
For a good part of the film, Roy tries to convince his friend Dave (David Allen) to sever his allegiance with the outlaw McBride, but the easy money is too great a temptation. Dave and Roy share an affection for Dr. Bradford's daughter Laura (Sally March), though the romantic angle doesn't get resolved by the end of the film. In a rarity for these early oaters, the villain also has a female accomplice. Bess Warren (Dorothy Sebastian) is McBride's girlfriend, though the relationship is more casual than close.
I managed to pick up this film cheaply on DVD along with another Roy Rogers flick on the flip side, "Apache Rose". Both copies suffered from poor voice and lip synchronization, and this film was a bit blurry besides. Along with that, the story seemed to drag along with drawn out chases and repetitious dialog. Still, if you're a Roy and Gabby fan, there's enough here to tune in. So far it's the only film in which I've seen Roy sing a spiritual as part of his repertoire.
For Roy Rogers fans, another film with a Confederate backdrop to consider is "Robin Hood of the Pecos"; Gabby's along for that ride too. If you take in this film, have some fun and count up how many times Gabby says 'ya durn tootin'".
Roy Rogers (as Roy Rogers) finds his home town divided at the onset of
the Civil War. Missouri is a Union State, but Mr. Rogers and the
town-folk side with the Confederate States. Rogers and his sidekick
George "Gabby" Hayes (as Gabby) decide to work for the Confederacy;
their mission becomes defeating renegade Stuart Hamblen (as McBride).
The wicked Mr. Hamblen complicates loyalties further by employing
Rogers' boyhood friend Dave Kerwin (as Dave).
Obviously, hero Rogers is on the losing side of the Civil War; but the film has little to do with its Civil War setting; instead, it's a story about loyalty and the law. It you ignore the Confederate issues, it's one of the better early Rogers stories. The acting and production levels are relatively high - watch the story after the storm hits, with thunder and lightning used effectively by director Joseph Kane. Dorothy Sebastian (as Bess) is great with Rogers and Hamblen in the final confrontation/shootout scene. Roger's songs are above average, too - particularly when harmonizing with slaves on "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot".
****** The Arizona Kid (9/29/39) Joseph Kane ~ Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Dorothy Sebastian
This B western has solid acting ,production values and direction. Joe Kane directs Roy Rogers, "Gabby " Hayes, Stuart Hamblin and David Allen with a sure hand. Unusual for a Rogers film, Kane keeps the singing to a minimum with the emphasis on action and dramatics.The plot concerns Roy and his boyhood friend Dave.Dave is reckless and pursues a career with renegade raider Hamblin.Roy sees trouble ahead and tries to set Dave straight,with no success. Then the Civil War erupts with Roy joining the Confederates and Dave and Hamblin forming their own band of raiders. Roy is ordered to stop Hamblins Raiders. In the final scenes where Roy has to order Dave and the other raiders executed for treason, Roy shows true emotion and a solid bit of acting. Also the final shootout with Hamblin is memorable. This movie is a notch above many other Rogers western. My vote : 7 out of 10.
The Arizona Kid (1939)
*** (out of 4)
Good "B" Western takes place in Missouri, 1861 as Roy Rogers and George "Gabby" Hayes head home and encounter a renegade soldier named MacBride (Stuart Hamblen). Soon MacBride is recruiting men to join his renegade posse who are stealing from people and giving a bad name to the South. THE ARIZONA KID doesn't last an hour but it contains some pretty good action, a nice story, a good villain and of course Rogers and Hayes are always up to their standards. For such a low-budget film I was really surprised at how good the atmosphere was as you really do get the feel as if you're at the start of the Civil War as families are being torn apart and the stuff dealing with the renegade soldiers robbing was very well handled and made for some nice drama. Another good sub-plot deals with Roy getting caught up with an old flame (Sally March) and an old friend who ends up joining the bad guy's troops. These two stories aren't the best written in Western history but they're both above average and makes for some entertainment. As you'd expect, Rogers is in good form as he has no problems fitting into the role of the hero. The screenplay also allows him to sing three good numbers (It's Home Sweet Home, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Lazy Old Moon) that are well shot and performed. Hayes adds his typically nice humor and Hamblen makes for a good villain. There are a couple good shoot-outs and a few explosions as well to cover the action. All in all, if you're a fan of these "B" Westerns then you should be entertained by this one. If these type of things aren't your cup of tea then it's doubtful this one here will change your opinion.
As is the case in a lot of B westerns the title has nothing to do with
the story. The only connection that Arizona has with The Arizona Kid is
that Roy Rogers and Gabby Hayes are bringing a string of horses from
Arizona as the story opens. Otherwise the action takes place in Civil
War era Missouri.
Roy wants to join the Confederate cause, but friend Dave Allen wants to join the irregular guerrillas that Stuart Hamblen is putting together. Roy has scruples about what Hamblen is all about, he's a Quantrill type raider in all, but name.
Later on Hamblen has his connections with the Confederacy severed by the Confederacy due in no small part to Rogers's instigation. After that capturing Hamblen and destroying his band becomes a personal mission for Roy.
I think it completely ironic that the Confederacy had such scruples about the fictional character that Hamblen plays. They sure didn't in real life have any about Colonel Quantrill, they couldn't afford any.
I will say that the final showdown between Roy and Hamblen's character is nicely staged.
Still this is not one of the best of the Roy Rogers westerns.
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