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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One thing about these old "B" Westerns - the title often had nothing to
do with the actual story. Case in point, "Vigilantes of Dodge City" was
not a story about vigilantes as one commonly envisions when hearing the
This film is one of a number of Red Ryder Westerns, the series of films that starred either Allan "Rocky" Lane or Wild Bill Elliott as the title character. The supporting cast generally included Alice Fleming as the Duchess, Red Ryder's aunt who raised him, and trusted young Indian friend Little Beaver. Beaver was portrayed by present day accused wife killer Robert "Baretta" Blake, then credited as Bobby Blake, and sporting a remarkable resemblance to the grown actor.
Bill Elliott does the honors as Red Ryder here, and besides helping out with the Dutchess' Ryder Freight Lines, he raises horses for the Army. Crooked banker Luther Jennings (LeRoy Mason) and cohort Bishop (Wally Wales/Hal Talafiero) scheme to set up Red with not only robbing the Ryder Freight Lines, but also of defrauding the government by rustling his own horses. Little Beaver plays a key role in this story, when he discovers a hidden cave that serves as headquarters for Jennings and his henchmen.
As a fan of these old Westerns, I find it interesting how different cowboy stars handled their six-shooters. Bill Elliott, in the heat of a good showdown, seems to "throw" his gun in the direction of his target as he fires, as if adding emphasis to his action.
If you enjoy this film, try some more Elliott Red Ryders, well over a dozen in all, including Sun Valley Cyclone and Sheriff of Redwood Valley. For a different yet similar take on the Ryder character, try Rocky Lane's Rustlers of Devil's Canyon or Marshal of Cripple Creek. All are from the mid 1940's, with the Elliott films preceding the Lane versions. For fans of the early Republic Serials, one of the better ones is The Adventures of Red Ryder from 1940, starring Don "Red" Barry as the title character. Have fun!
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