In the midst of the Civil War, Lassiter has a plan to get control of California. Working out of St. Joseph, he plans to send forged messages to the troops on the west coast via Pony Express. First he attempts to bribe Pony Express ride Roy Rogers. When Roy refuses he turns to the outlaw Johnson and his gang and this leads to trouble.Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
Who are those tough looking men?
The big one leaning against the post is Luke Johnson. They say he is an outlaw.
Well, why isn't he in prison?
This isn't Maryland, honey. This is the frontier. The last two marshals that went after Johnson are dead.
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A very, very familiar theme in B-westerns, and especially Roy Rogers films, is the idea of a hero being a secret agent whose job it is to ferret out spies and pro-Confederate (South) subversives living in Union (Northern) states during the Civil War. In most cases, the evil folks actually are megalomaniacs who have visions of great power and even riches--and often want to make themselves kings in new countries splintered off from these states! Now this is not to say all the films were pro-Union--there were probably just about as many where the hero was a Southerner working to steal Union gold or the like. Regardless, this is VERY familiar territory.
Another very familiar theme, especially in Rogers films, is the Pony Express. I have always found this to be VERY curious, as this service only existed between 1860 and 1861! In other words, it was obsolete soon after it began and its importance, at least to most historians, is negligible. Simply put, the telegraph soon replaced the service and was a heck of a lot faster. So, seeing Rogers trying to insure that the Pony Express continue uninterrupted for the sake of the Union seems silly because it was unnecessary. This film manages to merge both overused themes into one film! Roy works for the Express and to St. Joseph to investigate these 'copperheads' (Southern agitators). The plan for these agents in Missouri to interrupt the flow of information to Cailfornia. And, he very soon finds them and does what all good B-movie heroes should do--beat them up or shoot them in the hand! Had the Union and Confederacy actually used these tactics, over 600,000 lives lost in this war could have been averted (though a generation of soldiers would have had to contend with debilitating injuries to their shooting hands)! Can Roy uncover the plot, get the girl (who has come to hate him) and stop the megalomaniac by the end of the film? Well, what do you think.
Considering that the plot is VERY familiar as is his relationship with the lady, there really is nothing new here. The film is pleasant but very predictable--and nothing more.
By the way, pay close attention to the words as Roy sings "Old Kentucky Home". Most people are only moderately familiar with the first verse--and are unaware how racist the song actually is. Here, you get to hear it all in all its original 'splendor'.
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