Belle Langtry runs a town being taken over by cattle rustlers. She is also a front for the outlaws, who are led by Steve Fraser. Hoppy gets elected sheriff and cleans up the town with help from the Bar 20 boys.
Hoppy and the boys come to the lawless town of Gunsight looking for their rustled cattle. When he breaks up Belle Langtry's gang's attempt to wreck the local printing press, he is made Sheriff. He sets a trap that snares one of the rustlers. Then he lets him go figuring he will lead him to the rest of the gang and the stolen cattle. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Hoppy's were the most respectable and - for an eight year old - the most involving of the series westerns.
WIDE OPEN TOWN is a remake (occasionally shot-for-shot as with the single insert of the bar girls) of the thirties HOPALONG CASSIDY RETURNS with Brent in the same role and Ankrum promoted from heavy to to upstanding newspaper man. Comparing them, it's possible to see the series shift from Harry Sherman's notion of a realist William S. Hart cycle to the kids' heroics Boyd favored.
The later film is more polished and a comparison of the two runaway horse sequences shows the development and the contribution of director Seylander.
The new film foregrounds a pre-teen heroine and lets Brent atone for her sins "I'm playing for big stakes...You & your outfit were nothing but tin horn rustlers till I got here" she cautions nasty Victor Jory.
Hoppy "the ex Sheriff who cleaned up Santa Fe" visits the troubled town and characteristically decides "I'd like to help." Soon he's disposing of henchman Barcroft by flinging the raw liquor he insists Hoppy drink instead of the usual sarsparilla, in the low life's face. "I did invite him out of town, didn't I?"
There's the requisite action with the added pleasure of Hoppy getting fighting mad and taking it out on Jory and rather too much un-funny comedy with California, which probably played better with the original audiences.
The Mount Mitchell, Devils Marbles, Lone Pine scenery, the Wells Fargo box robbery at the rail station, the cattle herd providing foreground action at the hideout, the busy western street and saloon full of costumed extras are all spot on. Throw in a strong support cast well chosen, making this vintage B western, better than a lot of entertainment for big people.
The running shot of Hoppy at full gallop, out to rescue Brent is worth a cheer.
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