|Index||4 reviews in total|
This Western is too slow-moving and routine to be more than mildly
interesting. It did have some potential, but it doesn't deliver more than
an occasional good moment, and it just doesn't give you a lot of reasons to
pay close attention.
It is set in the Montana territory, where a gang of politicians and other lowlifes has been using intimidation and legal tricks in an attempt to force some ranchers off of their land. As the movie begins, the ranchers call in the Trailblazers (Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, and Bob Steele) to match wits and fists with the bad guys. Quite a bit actually happens after that, but it never really seems to hit high gear. All three Trailblazers are likable, but here they lack energy most of the time, and neither they nor the crooks ever make you believe that they care all that much about what is going on. As a result, it's at best only a mildly interesting movie.
Perennial western villain Harry Woods intends to make a killing when
Montana territory becomes a state which would date this film for 1889.
He's got a grip on the territorial government and he's looking to force
ranchers off their property one way or another.
But he doesn't reckon on the arrival of a trio of cowboy heroes, in this case The Trailblazers who are Bob Steele and a pair of silent screen heroes Hoot Gibson and Ken Maynard.
Whether it's Hopalong Cassidy and his two sidekicks or the Three Mesquiteers on down to the Range Busters, Rough Riders and now the Trailblazers for Monogram the formula is pretty well set.
Both Gibson and Maynard had seen better days in the saddle and didn't look to involved. As for Steele he was counting the days between some appearances in items like The Big Sleep where he really scored well.
For hard core B western fans only.
By the 1940's the format for the 3 pals western was pretty well set,
and here we have the Trailblazers. The budget values are pretty
apparent, especially some stock footage of Steele at the beginning
riding down a dirt road past telephone poles. The actors don't even
bother with stage names.
The action is good. Battlin' Bob and Maynard each go more than a few rounds. Even Hoot Gibson does a little fighting. The shtick with him throwing lit dynamite at the villains reminds me a lot of Walter Brennan's turn in Rio Bravo. Both Hoot and Walter were getting up there in years, cackling away and neither very flexible anymore.
At 50 minutes in length, this was intended for Saturday afternoon matinée filler. It interests me how much these B westerns presage TV drama. The target audience has a short attention span, and are shocked into alertness every five minutes with some kind of a racket - shooting, galloping, fighting, whatever. These films create a mood. The plot and acting are incidental. While this one is a lot like all the rest, I think it's better than average as a mindless Saturday afternoon trip down memory lane.
If you want to watch a cheap western with absolutely no surprises or thrills whatsoever, you'll still have a hard time watching this. If I had to put the badness of this film into one word, it would be this: Monogram. Funny how Monogram stayed in business for so long churning out bad movies like this. To make things worse, this was at the tail end of Ken Maynard's career. Still, it's interesting to see Maynard along with Hoot Gibson and Bob Steele.
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