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Trail of the Rustlers (1950)

Approved | | Western | 2 February 1950 (USA)
Trying to acquire all the land in the Rio Perdido valley, Chick Mahoney (Don Harvey), Jed Mahoney (Myron Healey) and their gang, working under the orders of the mother of the Mahoney boys, ... See full summary »







Complete credited cast:
Tommy Ivo ...
Todd Hyland
Mira McKinney ...
Mrs. J.G. Mahoney
Chick Mahoney (as Don Harvey)
Eddie Cletro ...
Guitar Player
The Roundup Boys ...


Trying to acquire all the land in the Rio Perdido valley, Chick Mahoney (Don Harvey), Jed Mahoney (Myron Healey) and their gang, working under the orders of the mother of the Mahoney boys, Mrs. J.G. Mahoney (Myra McKinney), raids the Hyland ranch and kills the owner. Steve Armitage (Charles Starrett) arrives and lends his assistance to Mary Ellen Hyland (Gail Davis), the rancher's daughter, and her young brother Tod (Tommy Ivo). Steve learns that his old pal, Smiley (Smiley Burnette), is working for the Mahoney gang without realizing they are outlaws and killers, and also finds out the Mahoneys are anxious to grab the valley land because of an underground river running beneath it. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sizzling Starrett Action! Sparkling Smiley Rhythms!




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 February 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lost River  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

"Gee, Durango called me partner!"
9 November 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Well help me out here. I know it's not unusual for old time B Westerns to have a title that has nothing to do with the story, films like "Prairie Moon" and "The Singing Hill". But this one seems almost like false advertising - there aren't any rustlers in the picture and no mention of cattle rustling. If you want to split hairs and say the bad guys were trying to rustle land you might make some headway, but then I'd have to say that's stretching things quite a bit.

Does any of that matter? Not for me it doesn't. A lot of the Charles Starrett/Durango Kid films aren't that easy to come by, but quite recently they've been popping up with some regularity on Sunday mornings courtesy of the Antenna TV cable channel. This is one I hadn't seen yet, so getting up early to catch it today was worth the effort, even if that title business is a head scratcher.

The action takes place in a small town called Rio Perdido, appropriately named because it means Lost River. It's not really lost, there's a large underground stream that the dastardly Mahoney family knows about, and with that knowledge they're attempting to buy out all the local ranchers on the cheap. Durango regular Smiley Burnette is unwittingly in the employ of the Mahoney's, so it's Durango's job (in his guise as Steve Armitage) to convince Smiley to string the bad guys along until he can figure out what the land scheme is all about.

The surprise of the film for me at least was seeing Gail Davis on board as Mary Ellen Hyland, daughter of one of the ranchers that the Mahoney's dusted in the opening segment. She was more likely to turn up in Gene Autry flicks of the era and more so his TV series of the early Fifties, before getting her own show as Annie Oakley. She did appear in at least one other Durango flick, "South of Death Valley" the year prior to this one.

There's a neat gimmick near the end of this story that I don't believe was tried in any other Durango Kid story. Bad guy Chick Mahoney (Don Harvey) impersonates Durango in the black mask and outfit to force Smiley to make the land purchase from Miss Hyland. Smiley stalls just long enough for The Kid to make the save. Just in time too to keep the movie under an hour.

Trivia fans take note - Steve/Durango mentions the names of both his horses in this one - Bullet is the dark horse and Raider is the white one. Young Tod Hyland even has a Raider look-alike named Raider Jr. Never know when you might need to impress someone with that info.

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