For a 'B' western, this really wasn't so bad. It involved the Matinee duo of Buster Crabbe and Al ( Fuzzy) St. John in the Billy the Kid serials that ran in most every theater in the 40's. This time Bill the Kid (Crabbe) and his humorous side-kick, Fuzzy Q Jones, help a teenage brother and sister that have returned to their small town only to find it has become a ghost town. Seems that someone has ran out or killed all the citizens, all in the name of Billy the Kid, in order to get gold that has been found in the area. The problem is they have killed the man that knows the whereabouts of the gold so they are digging in the area to find the spot.
It is not long before Crabbe, using a fake name of Billy Andrews, finds a map with the location of the gold. In the meantime, the villains have found that Bill Andrews real name is Billy the Kids and plan to get rid of him by any means possible.
The movie was a typical matinee western made by many companies call the 'skid-row' productions. But what was odd about this film is that it was released under two titles. The first title, upon beginning release, was 'The Mysterious Rider' with a running time of 56 minutes. Later when it was re-released the title was changed to "Panhandle Trail' with a running time of 40 minutes. One can only guess that the reason for the title change was the fact that there were many films in the western genre that used the title 'Mysterious Rider'. Even by 1942 there had been three movies title 'Mysterious Rider' with one being re-released about the time this movie made it debut. And with the shorten time, it appears that the movie houses were wanting shorter films before the main feature. By doing this they can get a double feature or even a triple feature at a small fee to attract the local population into paying price for admission.
Having watch both titles, it is apparent that the production company tried to shorten some scenes in order to get to the 40 minutes mark. Some of the shortcuts mainly involved people riding up, or away, on horse-back. So most of the cuts were really of no value. However, there is a big cut at the start of the movie. In the first release, it shows the Marshal and his posse chasing Billy and Fuzzy which relayed how and why Billy was in the area. The cut even had a nice scene of Fuzzy jumping into Billy's arms when he thinks he sees a ghost. -- Another cut involved how Fuzzy and the violin got into the vacant saloon, the shorter cut ending when the violin was found in the teenagers house. Not much was lost with the editing but watching the full film does make you feel more informed..
Another nice watch from the early western work.
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