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The Railroad Must Go Through!
(email@example.com) from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
21 May 2005
"Winners of the West" is a winning 13 chapter serial from Universal
Pictures directed by veterans Ford Beebe and Ray Taylor. Universal was
probably the largest of the studios producing chapter-plays at this
time. As such the production values usually exceeded those of their
competitors and they had ready access to a vast storehouse of stock
footage from their previous productions, some dating back to the silent
In the 1930s, Universal starred Johnny Mack Brown in four serials as an
"all in black" hero. The wardrobe was obviously used so that the hero
would match whatever stock footage that was used.
In this one Dick Foran takes over as the "all in black" hero Jeff
Ramsay. The story involves Ramsay's efforts to get the Great Hartford
Transcontinental Railroad through Hellgate Pass. Along with pals Jim
Jackson (James Craig) and Tex Houston (Tom Fadden), Jeff strives to
overcome all obstacles placed in his path by the notorious King Carter
(Harry Woods) and his gang. Carter is determined to drive the
Carter along with his cohort Snakeye (Charles Stevens) incite the local
Indian tribe under Chief War Eagle (Chief Yowlachie) to raid the
railroad camp. The head of the railroad John Hartford (Edward Keane)
just happens to have a beautiful young daughter Claire (Anne Nagel) who
keeps getting in the way and winds up getting kidnapped at one point.
Over the course of 13 thrilling chapters Ramsay and his pals manage to
get into the usual array of chapter ending cliff hangers only to escape
just in the nick of time. Here the directors cheated a little. For
example, at the end of one chapter Ramsay is shot at point blank range
by two bad guys and falls to the floor. In the next chapter he rises
from the floor without a scratch. Later in that same chapter he also
escapes without a scratch from a cave-in when a mine passage collapses
right on top of him. Oh well, what Saturday matinée 10 year old kid
would have noticed or even cared as long as the hero lived to fight
Of course needless to say Jeff and the side of righteousness wins out
in the final chapter and all live happily ever after.
This serial boasts one of the finest array of bad guys ever to grace a
"B" western. Besides Woods (one of the best of the "B" heavies) and
Charlie Stevens (who was a grandson of the famous Apache Chief,
Geronimo), the gang includes such notables as Trevor Bardette as the
creepy Raven and Edmond Cobb, Roy Barcroft, Edgar Edwards, Bud Osborne
and Tom London as various henchmen. Also making brief appearances are
the likes of Bob Kortman, Ed Cassidy, Kermit Maynard, Bud Osborne and
Iron Eyes Cody.
Dick Foran would make only one more serial for Universal, the all-star
million dollar serial "Riders of Death Valley" in 1941.
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