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A Warner Brothers Short Subject.
At Hooksville - the last town on the route West - an evil banker engages in robbery & murder to prey upon unsuspecting travelers.
WAGON WHEELS WEST is a dandy little Western, with good performances and plenty of action packed into its few minutes. As always, Charles Middleton makes a thoroughly despicable villain. Robert Shayne is fine as the grim faced hero; Nina Foch has a tiny role playing the pretty rancher's daughter who catches his eye.
Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.
Wagon Wheels West (1943)
*** (out of 4)
Routine Western short has U.S. Marshall Frank Wilson (Robert Shayne) seeking vengeance against the man who he saw kill his father as a child. The Marshall rides into town just to bust the man but gets a lot more than that. If you've seen at least one Western in your lifetime then you're not going to see anything new here but I was still entertained by the short, which featured a couple good performances and a nice ending. Shayne was very good in his role and made his character someone you wanted to root for. Nina Foch, who is best remembered for her roles in such horror titles as THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE and CRY OF THE WEREWOLF, makes her screen debut here. What really makes up for the routine nature of the film is the wonderful ending, which includes a chase as well as a wreck down a giant hill. The way things play out were very exciting and makes the twenty-minutes worth it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
. . . Warner Bros. warns America halfway through WAGON WHEELS WEST, mentioning Wells Fargo (and ONLY Wells Fargo) by name in the same breath as the 21st Century Wells Fargoish "Bank of Hookville." During most of the 20th Century Warner Bros. was busy churning out uncannily accurate prophetic warnings for we Americans of the (then) Far Future 21st Century concerning our USA's upcoming Calamities, Catastrophes, Cataclysms, and Apocalypti. With a sly wink and nod from the incoming Red Commie KGB Oligarchical Putin\Rump Administration, the Wells Fargo Crime Syndicate recently destroyed the lives of millions with its fraudulent banking practices, creating and manipulating our accounts and money, ruining our credit, and breaking up countless marriages (and fomenting who knows how many murder-suicides) by spawning Dark Clouds of Suspicion. Now that Putin\Rump have installed Foreclosure King Mnuchin as the Fox in America's Banking Henhouse, no one's money or personal information is safe from the KGB mobsters Hell-Bent upon America's Destruction. The Good Guys in WAGON WHEELS WEST Terminate Termite Banker Phineas Hook at the finale, which is Warner's Way of teaching us how WE must deal with our deplorable KGB-controlled Money Manipulators of Today.
Warner Bros. western short that starts out with a man and his son driving a wagon of supplies into a town. The man goes to the general store where he sells his supplies to the store's owner Phineas Hook (Charles Middleton). But Hook doublecrosses the man and sends his goons to kill him and his son after they leave town. The boy, Frankie Wilson, manages to escape but his father is killed. So he vows to come back when he grows up and get Hook. Adult Frankie (Robert Shayne) returns as a deputy US marshall to set a trap for Hook, now a banker. Interesting to see Robert Shayne in a western. I'm so used to seeing him as police detectives and the like. Also nice to see Nina Foch in her first role. This is a remake of a feature length movie called Song of the Saddle from 1936. Charles Middleton reprises his role. All of the footage here from when Frankie was a boy was from that movie. If you'll notice young Frankie plays a guitar and sings. In the original movie he grew up to become "the singing kid" played by Dick Foran. I'm really not sure why WB remade the movie as a short, then reused footage from the movie for part of it. I'm sure it made sense at the time.
There's nothing the least bit new or inventive in WAGON WHEELS WEST.
It's the kind of routine western fare that I avoided when I was a kid
and it fares no better today.
Travelers en route to California are preyed upon by baddies who want to rob them of their money. As their horse and wagon goes on its way, they're pursued, the father (ADDISON RICHARDS) is killed and his boy survives the attack by rolling down an embankment and hiding out.
The tale picks up with the boy as the man (ROBERT SHAYNE) who gets a chance to play hero and take care of the villains.
It ends with a barn dance celebration after a brief scene showing Shayne with NINA FOCH--who has only a tiny role in this western short.
Nothing special here--very routine and easily skipped. Some stock footage from old Warner Bros. films is used as filler.
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