This film finds Ken Baxter and his two pals, Pancho and Panhandle, finding Professor Wahl, injured and wandering on the range. They take him to Blue Mesa Trading Post, where two archaeologists, Dr. Floto and Baron Starkoff, foreign government representatives, are staying. Both want to secure control of a supply of helium gas found in an ancient Indian cave. Wahl, working for the Federal Government, is murder at the Blue Mesa. The land strip on which the cave is located is claimed by Letty and Jim Morgan, brother and sister owners of the Lazy Y Ranch. Tin Cup Ranch owner Joe Larkin hires Ken to take possession of a cabin on the Morgan land in order to gain title. Ken, an undercover G-Man, discovers a secret passageway from the cabin that leads to the cave and discovers the helium, and also that Larkin is working with Starkoff. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Ken Maynard signed with independent producer Maurice Henry Hoffman in 1937, he was forced to accept a standard shooting budget of only $30,000. This included a personal payment to him of only $2,500 per picture. In all, a considerable comedown from the $125,000 budgets, and the $10,000 he was earning per week at Universal only three years earlier.
Yet worse events were soon to come. Hoffman fell ill and sold his contract to Max and Arthur Alexander. The Alexander brothers cut Maynard's budget to only $15,000. Total shooting time was reduced to five or six days, which is certainly evident in this entry.
Alas, Ken Maynard doesn't put up much of a struggle to hold this Poverty Row potboiler together. True, he's forced to contend with a none too bright screenplay and obviously hasty direction. Unfortunately for his career, however, he receives more than adequate support from some of his players. John Elliott, who enjoys by far the best written part, easily steals the movie from Ken with his crusty characterization of a cantankerous storekeeper. Then there's Charlie King, that prince of heavies, making the most of a sizable role, and our little heroine Fay McKenzie more than holds her own as well. Not to be outdone, Tarzan also steals the limelight in a delightful bit in which he picks up Ken's hat, while minor player Kenneth Rhodes is handed a song yet. And even Sven Hugo Borg as the chief villain makes a game try, assisted by director Newfield indulging him with a few close-ups.
Fortunately for Ken, his two sidekicks, the innocuous Ralph Peters and the hammy Julian Rivero, are both write-offs. As for the cheesy plot, frankly we couldn't care less if the Nazis made off with all the helium in the universe. If they want to blow themselves up, why not? And as for who killed Professor Wahl, good old Sam Newfield reveals the murderer's identity right from the start.
At least the movie is brief. but it's sad to see a great star like Ken Maynard not only lending his presence to such a minor production, but putting up such a poor fight in allowing himself to be outclassed by actors who are obviously taking their roles more seriously. Most of the time, Ken is content to merely rattle off his lines.
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