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Adventures of Red Ryder (1940)

Approved | | Western | 28 June 1940 (USA)
Mesquite banker Calvin Drake plans to profit from the Santa Fe Railroad's acquisition of right-of-way by gaining control of the land in the territory. In the ensuing war of intimidation ... See full summary »


(original screenplay) (as Franklyn Adreon), (original screenplay) | 3 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maude Allen ...
Duchess Ryder (as Maude Pierce Allen)
Beth Andrews (as Vivian Coe)
Calvin Drake
Cherokee Sims
Colonel Tom Ryder [Ch. 1]
One-Eye Chapin
Sheriff Dade
Henchman Shark [Chs. 1-2]
Deputy Lawson
Gayne Whitman ...
Commissioner Treadway [Chs. 11-12]
Hale - Rail Road Official [Ch. 1]


Mesquite banker Calvin Drake plans to profit from the Santa Fe Railroad's acquisition of right-of-way by gaining control of the land in the territory. In the ensuing war of intimidation against the ranchers, Ira Withers is killed and Red Ryder and his father, Colonel Tom Ryder, form an organization to drive the gunmen and outlaws out of the territory. Colonel Ryder is killed by One-Eye Chapin and Red vows vengeance. Sheriff Dade is in league with the Drake faction, including Ace Hanlon. The Duchess, Red's aunt, is about to lose her ranch. Red learns of a plan to dynamite a dam providing the water supply, and saves Beth Andrews, daughter of the former sheriff, Luke Andrews who was also murdered by Drake's men. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


From the famous NEA newspaper cartoon. (Lobby cards).




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 June 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

As Aventuras de Red Ryder  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


(12 episodes)

Sound Mix:

(RCA High Fidelity Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Red Ryder was originally a character called Bronc Peeler; the name Red Ryder was a registered trademark, administered by a firm called Red Ryder Inc. that protected the trademark and oversaw any use of that character in other media than the original comic strip. The company ceased operations in the 1960s. See more »


Chapter 11: Red has Cherokee's pistol with a rounded grip. After he shoots One-Eye, he carves a notch on a flat bottomed grip. See more »


Opening crawl: 1870 - America's first great problem after the Civil War was the construction of a railroad to link our bordering oceans. Selfish interests, seeking to control the right-of-way, fought the work savagely - but the spirit of progress prevailed and the United States were bound together with highways of steel. But before the last spike was driven the Frontier flamed with the bitterest strife in its history.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits show a cartoon strip of "Red Ryder" with a "live" picture of Don "Red" Barry embedded in a panel. See more »


Featured in Adventures of Frank and Jesse James (1948) See more »


Oh! Susanna
Written by Stephen Foster
See more »

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User Reviews

One of Republic's Best Serials
20 July 2003 | by (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

"The Adventures of Red Ryder" was adapted from a popular comic strip of the day by Fred Harmon. It was acquired by studio chief Herbert J. Yates with Don Barry in mind for the lead. Although Barry in no way resembled the tall lean character of the comics, Yates nevertheless "insisted" that Barry play the part. Yates probably had in mind that Barry was similar in height and build to Republic's ace stunt man Dave Sharpe. Sharpe in fact performs many of his trademark acrobatic stunts in the picture.

The plot is that old chestnut about the bad guys driving all of the local ranchers off of their properties so that they will hold title to all of the land for the right of way for the incoming railroad. The only ranch standing in their way is the Circle "R" owned by Colonel Tom Ryder (William Farnum) and his son "Red" (Barry).

When Red's father is murdered he sets out to avenge his death and uncover the people behind all of the trouble. The town's "respectible" banker, Calvin Drake (Harry Worth) appears to want to help the ranchers but in fact is the brains behind the troublemakers. Assisting him is saloon owner "Ace" Hanlon (Noah Berry Sr.) and his gang. Over the course of the serial, Red manages many narrow escapes from sure death and brings all of the bad guys to justice by the end of the last chapter.

Also in the cast are Tommy Cook as Little Beaver, Maude Pierce Allen as the Duchess, Vivian Coe (aka Austin) as the token heroine Beth, Hal Taliaferro as Cherokee, Bob Kortman as One Eye (looking as evil as ever with an eye patch), Carleton Young as Sheriff Drake, Ray Teal as Shark, Ed Brady as Ed Madison and Ed Cassidy and Billy Benedict as Ira and Dan Withers. If you blink you'll miss a very young Robert J. Wilke as a street heavy.

The picture benefits from the excellent direction by Republic's ace action directors William Witney and John English. The stunt work was always the best in the business and most of the footage appears to be newly shot. In later serials and features, Republic relied heavily on stock footage. A case in point is the scene in the serial where a horseless stage coach goes off a washed out bridge. I recently saw that same scene in an episode of Republic's TV series "Stories of the Century" released in 1954.

The serial also benefited from the casting of Barry in the lead. He was a much better actor than many of his contemporaries and this is evident in the scenes following the murder of his father and later of a close friend. You feel his anguish and know that the murderers will not get away with it. He also hated the nickname "Red" which stuck with him the rest of his life even though this was the only time he played the character.

Republic followed this up with a Red Ryder series of features first with Bill Elliot and later with Allen Lane. Bobby Blake played Little Beaver in both.

If you happen to get a copy of the DVD release, there are many excellent special features included. First, there's an interesting interview with Don Barry in which he discusses his career and gives us some stories from behind the scenes. There is also the TV pilot episode of a proposed Red Ryder TV series from 1955 with Allen Lane (billed as "Rocky"). It never sold.

"The Adventures of Red Ryder" certainly is one of the best western serials ever made and I wouldn't be far out by placing in on the short list of all-time greatest serials from any genre.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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