Gene Autry's horse "Champion" (Champion) is stolen by escaped convicts Jake Fargon (Walter Sande), Pete Reagon (Jock Mahoney) and Charlie Lewis (Francis McDonald). Twenty years earlier Fargo and Lewis had been captured by City Marshal Steve Autry (Gene Autry)and sent to prison after the theft of $30,000 from "Big Tim" Hanlon (Thurston Hall), a bonanza king. Gene (Gene Autry)traces the convicts to the ghost town in which the loot had been hidden way, where he also finds Hanlon and school teacher Ruth Lambert (Nan Leslie). Loco John (Clem Bevans)warns Gene the killers are around. The convicts pursue Gene and his friends through the spooky buildings. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A TALENTED CAST AND CREW MAKES THE MOST OF AN INTERESTING STORY.
Shortly after Gene Autry returned to the world of Western film-making following his wartime service, he left Republic Pictures, moving with his production company to Columbia where he enjoyed the greater fiscal capabilities of the larger studio, as can plainly be observed in this well-made melodrama that is marked by strong contributions from all involved, and that offers a storyline having precedence over Autry's former bedrock singing scenes, of which there are but two examples in this piece. Gene plays a double role, incorporating flashbacks as his sheriff father Steve who, 20 years prior, had arrested a trio of stagecoach bandits that are now prison escapees and have returned to their former hunting grounds, in the area where Gene owns a spread, to regain their secreted loot, and before this briskly-paced film has come to its closing, we may enjoy a scenario featuring an exciting stage coach race, a ghost ( naturally residing in a ghost town), a rampaging herd of wild horses, excellent stunt work, a romance (for which a homely schoolteacher abruptly blossoms), along with gunplay and superb horsemanship. The original story penned by Joseph Chadwick and published in the long-running pulp magazine "Western Aces" is adapted to a script by John K. Butler that improves upon it, adding elements that match the skills of those involved, including director John English who further tightens the work, cinematographer William Bradford, notable cameraman of equine fare, editor Aaron Stell (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD) who works closely with English, George Montgomery, whose designs are moodily effective for the ghost town interiors, Russell Malmgren with noteworthy sound mixing, in addition to the duo of Paul Malcolm (makeup) and Beth Langston (coiffeurs) who successfully bring about a metamorphosis of Ruth (Nan Leslie) from a plain, lovelorn spinster into an actual beauty; Leslie is impressive, as are future cinema Tarzan Jock Mahoney and rugged Walter Sande as hold-up men, and there are fine turns from old hands Thurston Hall, Alan Hale Jr., Clem Bevans, John McKee, Francis McDonald and Denver Pyle, while Champion Jr. must not be ignored, the Tennessee Walker's actions being fundamental to plot development.
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