Johnny Hanson wants to make enough money to enlarge his chicken farm. He does this through hockey. Gangsters get involved in trying to get him to throw a championship game, even lining up a woman to help steer him their way.
Pat's ability as a logging/mining camp fighter sets him up to box prizefighter Corrigan. Unknown to his supporters, he's actually in collusion with Corrigan to throw the fight - until he runs into reporter Maude.
Newsreel cameraman Bob Adams heads to North Africa to cover an Arab uprising against the British. When he refuses to help his younger brother become a cameraman, Don becomes the dupe of less savory types posing in the trade.
Foreign agents are smuggling monium (a chemical used in producing poison gas) into Mexico. The three Mesquiteers get involved when they ride to save a girl (really a government agent) on a runaway horse.
The Mesquiteers capture a horse thief who escapes justice through a crooked judge. They gather signatures urging the governor to investigate but a friend with the petition is murdered. Stony is accused.
Sent to find counterfeiters, John Wyatt joins Doc Carter's medicine show. They arrive in the town where Curly Joe runs his counterfeiting operation. Carter was once framed by Curly Joe and ... See full summary »
California Straight Ahead finds John Wayne as a school bus driver turned truck driver. The film was one of a series of six films that John Wayne made for Universal Pictures that was an attempt to broaden his acting horizons. Not one of these films that he did for Universal was a western.
Though this one does have some western like elements. The final climax has Wayne leading a wagon train like caravan of big rigs trying to beat the railroad to the Pacific Coast before a longshoreman's strike commences is definitely western like in its presentation for the screen.
California Straight Ahead also bears no small resemblance to the working stiff pictures that were more popular at Warner Brothers. Wayne's in a part that Pat O'Brien normally would have played. If the film had been done at MGM, Spencer Tracy would have been cast.
The Duke does not do badly as the happy go lucky Biff Smith who's a lazy fellow with little ambition, content to be a school bus driver. He's got a thing for Louise Latimer, but his lack of ambition distresses her mother, Grace Goodall, to no end. He actually gets himself canned from that job when he helps Latimer's brother, Emerson Treacy, get his cargo to Chicago after villain LeRoy Mason disables Treacy's truck. Wayne and Treacy form a partnership that later includes Harry Allen.
Mason was no stranger to John Wayne films, he appeared in several of Wayne's films as a western villain right up to and including some Three Mesquiteers series. Allen has a nice part, he plays cockney- accented James McCorkle, though there's no explanation as to how he landed from Piccadilly in the American mid-west.
California Straight Ahead, despite some big holes in the plot, is not a bad film for John Wayne. Considering some of the hard driving parts he mostly played, those early scenes in this film were something I had never witnessed from him before, even though he does eventually grow into the usual Duke character. That opening with him driving the school bus and the kids singing almost looks like the setting of a number from a Bing Crosby film.
The film's not great, but it's an interesting part for the Duke.
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