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Talbot uses a phony land grant to rule thirteen million acres, taxing everyone heavily and evicting those who won't pay. The Three Mesquiteers becomes mysterious "night riders" to fight this evil. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
[the outlaws are shooting through the windows of the building where the townsmen have holed up]
Well, they're askin' for it!
Yeah. Let's give 'em an answer.
[the townsmen return fire]
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I imagine that Night Riders was probably done immediately after Stagecoach was finished shooting, but was not out yet. No one knew that it would be the film that would make John Wayne a huge star, so he was back doing the Three Mesquiteers western series for Republic Pictures. It is the film listed immediately after Stagecoach on IMDb and in the Films of John Wayne book.
In this entry Wayne, Ray Corrigan, Max Terhune and a whole bunch of other honest folk are being tossed off their ranches by a man showing up with titles from an old Spanish land grant. The only problem here is that you're dealing with the Three Mesquiteers who ain't gonna take this lying down.
The three of them, Duke included, decide to go Zorro on the bad guys. They dress up as three stylish bandits with caped hoods and call themselves, Los Capequeros. They rob the rent collectors from the "Don" and give it back to the ranchers. Even sheriff Kermit Maynard is sympathetic to them.
What makes Night Riders interesting is the fact that the Three Mesquiteers go calling on President James A. Garfield who is making a goodwill trip out west. They are looking to elude the rent collectors and break in on President Garfield while he's reading in bed. Don't say much for Presidential security, but they put up their guns and Garfield doesn't give them away. And he offers to help if they can get the evidence after the Mesquiteers tell their tale.
Of course Garfield never went west in the brief three months he had as President in 1881 before an assassin shot him in Washington's Union station. Oddly enough his successor Chester A. Arthur did make a trip west, a well publicized good will trip that was worked into the plot of the Robert Taylor western, Cattle King which I also reviewed. Garfield's shooting was worked in, albeit in a minor way, in the climax of Night Riders.
The Garfield connection does make Night Riders somewhat interesting to watch. And the Three Mesquiteer films were a bit above average of the ordinary B picture westerns of the time.
I hope no one sees that title and assumes some cartoon cat guest starred with the Duke in one of his films.
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