Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd), boss of the Bar 20 ranch in Texas, rides down the Camino Real in the New Mexico cattle country near Alamogordo, in response to an urgent message from his lifelong sweetheart, Nora Blake (Nora Lane), who is in serious trouble. Before he and his saddlemates, "Lucky" Jenkins (Russell Hayden) and "Pappy (Frank Darien), can reach her ranch, they are stopped by Clay Allison ('Robert Fiske (I)' qv), a cattle-rustler who is in almost complete control of the district, and wants to extend his holdings by seizing Nora's cattle and driving her out. Seeing Cassidy as a menace to his plans, he has him arrested on a trumped-up charge. Cassidy and his pals shoot their way out of the trouble and reach Nora;s ranch where they learn that Allison's henchmen have murdered her foreman, Tom Dillon (Jack Elliott), and Allison has sent for a crew of outlaws on the Texas border.Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A good Hopalong entry, with one standout performance
I picked up a few of the Image Entertainment "Hopalong Cassidy" DVDs owing to a friend's research for a magazine article...I had seen numerous examples of Boyd's excellent acting and wanted to see if watching whole "Hopalong" features would be rewarding. As I had hoped, the features are very good.
One expects a certain level of acting in B movies...better than a high-school stage play, but less depth than major movie characters. B movie performances usually have enough personality to explain what a character is doing at the time...but not enough to account for what the character is like, off-screen. It's one of the excellences of Boyd's acting; you feel that he is just as honest and competent and well-meaning before the movie starts, and in scenes where he does not appear. Most of the other characters are not so well-written or well-played, that one considers their backstory.
The exception in this movie is Gertrude Hoffman as Ma Caffrey, a crusty old general-store manager. At first she appears to be a typical comic-relief gun-totin' old lady, who thinks one of Hoppy's partners looks like her dead husband. Later she talks to that partner, who's been ordered by the court to help around the store. She says:
"Jeff's a good boy. Ain't scared to stand behind a gun and shoot for what's right. Jeff's pa was a Federal Marshal; got killed fightin' for the gov'ment. Yep, fell dead right where you're standing. I've tried to learn Jeff right from wrong. Clay Allison wouldn't be where he is today if it weren't for my Jeff. Allison's round-up crew'll be here today. Fightin' men from the border; they're a bad lot; al's bring trouble." ...and in that brief minute or so you COMPLETELY believe her and her grief for her husband and her disappointment in her son, working for Mr. Allison (who's the villain of the film). It's an A-picture performance...the sort of thing that wins "Best Supporting Actress" nominations if the movie is "respectable" enough. It's plain the actress thought the part through; her every line implies her past and her ongoing relationship with her townspeople and her son.
Is this worthwhile if a person doesn't care for the Western genre? Not really. Is it worth showing to young actors as an example of doing a lot with a small part? Yes, certainly! Does it demonstrate once again that not all low-budget movies have second-rate casts? Sure!
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