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The Crooked Trail (1936)

Passed  |   |  Action, Drama, Romance  |  25 July 1936 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 41 users  
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After Jim Blake saves Harve Tarlton's life, they become partners in a gold mining claim. After a while Harve reverts to his outlaw way of life. Everyone but Jim seems to know that Harve is ... See full summary »



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Title: The Crooked Trail (1936)

The Crooked Trail (1936) on IMDb 5.4/10

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Complete credited cast:
Lucile Browne ...
Helen Carter
John Merton ...
Harve Tarlton
Charles King ...
Ted Adams ...
Estaban Solano
John Van Pelt ...
Ed Cassidy ...
Grimby (as Edward Cassidy)
Horace Murphy ...


After Jim Blake saves Harve Tarlton's life, they become partners in a gold mining claim. After a while Harve reverts to his outlaw way of life. Everyone but Jim seems to know that Harve is bad but Jim merely thinks he needs a chance to go straight. But Jim's wife Helen has a plan to expose Harve as the outlaw he is. Written by Maurice VanAuken <>

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A NEW SADDLE AND GUN SAGA! (original poster - all caps) See more »


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Release Date:

25 July 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Lead Law  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Edited into Six Gun Theater: Episode #1.11 (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

An overly complicated plot and some bad exposition don't help this film.
12 October 2013 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

In general, I like Johnny Mack Brown's films. They feature no singing and his persona was very nice--laid back, gentle-voiced but tough. However, Brown's performance, though just fine, isn't able to overcome the problems with this film--in particular, an overly complicated plot, some poor acting as well as a ridiculous bit of exposition! The film begins with Harve evading the law by riding into the bad lands*. Because he hasn't got much water, the law figures he'll soon die and stop pursuit. When a nice Mexican guy finds Harve nearly dead, Harve returns the favor by trying to kill this Good Samaritan. Soon, Jim comes along and saves both men. Why? Because he's a really swell guy.

Despite Harve's well-earned reputation for evil, Jim takes it upon himself to reform him and makes him his partner. However, EVERYONE in town thinks Harve is a skunk--even Jim's new wife. Now how Jim got this wife involves some of the weirdest writing on the planet involving another skunk (Lanning). What's even weirder is the relationship triangle involving Jim, his bride and Harve.

The plot truly has shades of latent homosexuality--which COULD have made all this pretty interesting. The problem is that the plot is so darned complicated and seems like the script was badly in need of a re-write. An even more egregious problem comes at the 33 minute mark when there is a LONG exposition by two guys who basically tell the audience everything that happened during the last month!! This is sloppy as well as stupid and simply showing what has happened or making a RATIONAL allusion to it could have worked. Overall, a rather poor outing--and certainly not among Brown's better work.

*Incidentally, the Bad Lands is a region of the Dakotas. I don't think the film meant this--especially since it looked nothing like this cavernous area.

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