Lightning Strikes West (1940) Poster

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Great performance by Ken Maynard
Michael Morrison19 October 2008
Pretty good Western script with a great performance by Ken Maynard make this a must-see movie.

Of course any movie with Charles King is also a must-see, but Maynard and King are surrounded by players ranging from capable to excellent.

George Chesebro gets a rare chance to play a good guy; Wally West gets another unbilled part; Reed Howes and Bob Terry had small parts which they handled very well.

William Gould had what might now be called a cameo, but he might have been the smoothest actor in the entire cast. I thought he showed ability, subtlety, presence enough to have been a major performer. He did have a very long career, anyway.

Michael Vallon beautifully and slimily played a character named Butch Taggart, surely the worst Taggart ever except for James Taggart in "Atlas Shrugged."

But Maynard surprised me. His characterization might well have been his best performance ever. He showed nuance, subtlety, a grasp of his character that might be because of a good director, Harry Fraser, but still had to come from within him.

In one scene, when he tries to convey a message to his horse, Tarzan, his character shows frustration worthy of a Chaplin.

In his next to last performance, the movie "Bigfoot" with tons of great character actors, John Carradine had high praise for his ability in front of a camera, despite a 26-year layoff, his knowing how to stand with the light and avoid shadows. Carradine called Maynard "an old pro."

High praise, indeed, from one of the best, and, coupled with his Lightning Ken Morgan role here, surely enough to earn Ken Maynard another look as an actor, not just a cowboy star.
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