"Trail Dust" from the Hopalong Cassidy series is a real duster in every sense of the word. Most of the story takes place on a dusty and dry cattle drive.
Unscrupulous cattleman Tex Anderson (Stephen Morris) is withholding his cattle from a hungry market in order to drive up prices. The cattle buyers prevail upon some smaller ranchers including Hoppy (William Boyd)to form a drive and bring their cattle to market. Hoppy takes on the job of trail boss and is joined by his two pals Johnny Nelson (Jimmy Ellison) and Windy Halliday (George "Gabby" Hayes). Along the way the pick up the heroine Beth Clark (Gwynne Simpson)who is searching for her father. Unbeknownst to the group is that the evil Tex Williams has hired on in order to sabotage the drive and his cattle to reach the market first.
This is a better than average entry in the series. Produced by Harry "Pop" Sherman and directed by Nate West, this adventure takes place on the trail and leaves the viewer as thirsty as the cattle from all of the dust and long days along the trail. At 77 minutes this picture is longer than most series westerns but benefits from the extra running time. The outdoor photography is breathtaking and gives the viewer the feel of being on the trail too. In fact Boyd's traditional black costume is covered in dust through most of the film, unheard of for most "B" western heroes.
Boyd plays Hoppy the trail boss with an edge unusual for a series western hero. He takes no guff from anyone including his friends. This is what set the early Hoppys above most of the competition of the day. Hayes had still not adopted the "Gabby" nickname at this point. He was still being billed as George Hayes. Ellison was nearing the end of his tenure on the series, wanting to go on to "A" features. Morris became better known as Morris Ankrum later in his career.
As usual at the end, Ellison dumps the heroine and Hayes makes a remarkable recovery from a leg wound to ride after Hoppy and join him for the next adventure.
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