Fugitive Valley (1941) Poster

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Satisfactory Light Entertainment
Snow Leopard5 July 2001
With a fair amount of action and pleasant leading characters, "Fugitive Valley" is satisfactory light entertainment. The story is clever, though occasionally far-fetched, and makes up to some degree for the mostly stock villains.

The three Range Busters are infiltrating a notorious gang of criminals in an attempt to break it up and determine the identity of their elusive leader. Lawmen are waiting on the outside to move in if the trio succeeds, but suspicions soon begin to mount. Meanwhile, the daughter of Fugitive Valley's doctor seems to be involved in her own secret activities. It's an interesting combination of circumstances, and the story that follows is mostly done well.

While its nothing to take seriously, this is a mostly pleasant way to pass an hour for anyone who likes old Westerns.
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A very standard western plot and Elmer....but otherwise not bad.
MartinHafer13 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This B-western starts off with two big strikes against it. First, it features Max Terhune and his 'friend', Elmer. Elmer, it turns out, is a ventriloquist's dummy and the idea of this in an old-time western is just plain stupid. It's also one of the most inexplicable things I've ever seen in a movie and it's hard to believe 56 films were made with this wooden dummy (a literal wooden dummy--I am not making some sort of pejorative comment about Elmer's acting talents)! Elmer appeared in mostly westerns with the likes of Gene Autry, Robert Livingston and Johnny Mack Brown and even appeared in a Dick Tracy film!!! Second, the film begins with standard plot #6--the fake prison escape in order to find out where the bandit hideout is--something that was done dozens and dozens of times before and after--making the film very predictable. Because of these problems, Ray Corrigan starts off the film was some major handicaps. At least Dusty King's singing is a pleasant addition.

As I mentioned above, the film begins with Corrigan being locked up and then 'rescued' by one friend--and soon meeting 'by accident' with another. In the process, another prisoner (a real prisoner) shows them where his hideout is at Fugitive Valley. Now you'd THINK with a name like this that the authorities would have already suspected Fugitive Valley was a hideout! The three Range Busters (the name given to this trio of good guys in a string of B-westerns) must find out who the leader is--the Whip! The gang keep insisting that there is no real Whip--it's just an alias they all use. But Corrigan's razor-sharp instincts tell him that there is a Mr. Big behind all this and he's determined to find him or her. Overall, despite the plot and Elmer, the acting and singing are fine--even if it's all very predictable if you've seen more than a few westerns. Not bad...but not particularly inspired either.

By the way, if you like trivia, note Gray in this film. He's Glenn Strange and played in a ton of westerns...as well as played Frankenstein's monster in several of Universal's horror films {such as "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein").
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"If I was yella, you'd be rottin' in jail by now."
classicsoncall31 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
For anyone keeping score, this was the eighth Range Busters film from Monogram Studios, who churned them out at a gallop beginning with the first in the series simply titled "The Range Busters". To give you an idea how prolific they were, eight pictures were made in 1941 alone, with a total of twenty four appearing between 1940 and 1943. The original trio of Ray 'Crash' Corrigan, John 'Dusty' King and Max 'Alibi' Terhune appeared in the first sixteen pictures, and an educated guess tells me that Alibi's wooden dummy Elmer did too.

Most of these pictures offered pleasurable matinée entertainment for young fans of the day, though some might find they take a little getting used to today. As a fan of this stuff, I can watch them all, but even so some are better than others. This one's OK, but it's got some clumsy elements that are downright hokey, like the lame gimmick the doc called 'actiminikosis' when treating Crash and Dusty for their discolored blue tongues. Seems I developed the same symptoms once when I had some blueberry pie.

The story opens with Crash getting arrested and then breaking out of jail with Dusty's help, along with outlaw Red Langdon (Bob Kortman), who shows his appreciation by introducing the boys to his outlaw bunch holed up in Fugitive Valley. It's a standard plot device used in dozens of B Westerns, here used with a slight twist as Alibi comes on the scene pretending not to know his partners, and using the stage name of Professor Hammo the Great, renowned magician and ventriloquist. That's where Elmer comes in, though he didn't really have much of a part to play in this one.

A cool element in the story has to do with the character of Ann Savage (Julie Duncan), who's role is left rather ambiguous as she assumes the identity of a mysterious outlaw known as 'The Whip'. Meeting up with her 'gang' at a secret hideout, she takes part in a robbery, and it's not until the finale that we learn she's actually working as an undercover Pinkerton Agent to take down the baddies led by Glenn Strange. The final showdown is a rather awkward affair, as some of the bad guys get shot down returning fire with no cover, not really a smart move if you ask me.

If the idea of a a woman heading up an outlaw gang is one that you find intriguing, a picture I can recommend has Jennifer Holt in the title role of "The Hawk of Powder River", an Eddie Dean flick from 1948. It's not often you'll see a female gunned down in a Western, but it happens in that one. Meanwhile, back in Fugitive Valley, the boys in conversation with Miss Savage have some thoughts about settling down only to be brought back to their senses by Alibi, anxious to get on to their next adventure with his closing remark - "Come on, we're ridin'."
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