RUSTLERS OF DEVILS CANYON (there is no "the" in the title) was the last of the 23 films in this series produced by Republic Pictures, after 16 with Bill Elliott in the title role and the final seven with Allan Lane, but it wasn't supposed to be. Republic intended to continue producing this popular series, but an optional-renewal date with copyright owner Stephen Slesinger was overlooked in 1947 due to a clerical error.
Contacted several days after the due date was past, Slesinger agreed to renew Republic's rights to the character, but asked for higher royalty payments. Republic's decision-makers, based on the substantial increase Slesinger asked for, declined his offer, and one of the most-fondly remembered of all of Republic's western series came to an unplanned halt.
When next seen in a Republic western, the former Red Ryder, Allan Lane, was billed as Allan "Rocky" Lane (for the first time) starring in his own new "Rocky" Lane series for Republic. The Lane fans, among western fans, are divided as to whether or not the Lane films (as Red Ryder) are better than the Lane films, (as "Rocky" Lane.) The majority favor the latter with the primary reason being that Bobby Blake (as Little -you betchum- Beaver) was no longer around. Lane was paid $450 per week (not per film) over about 40 weeks for the last seven Ryder films, while Bobby Blake was paid a flat $400 for each film, and on his own between films.
The farewell film of the series, "Rustlers of Devil's Canyon" (with no "the" in the title, no matter what some video box cover reads)gave writer Earle Snell an "Original Screen Play" credit (as seen on the film, and not written as "screenplay")but the word original was a loose definition as Snell just reworked and revised the script based on 1936's "The Three Mesquiteers" (first film of that series) and the later "Oklahoma Renegades" 1940 version of the script.
The Snell non-original Original has Red Ryder (Allan Lane) returning to Sioux City, Wyoming, at the close of the Spanish-American War, settling down at the ranch of his aunt, The Duchess ( Martha Wentworth), with his pals Little Beaver (Bobby Blake) and "Blizard" ( Emmett Lynn.) But Red soon discovers that the country is over-run by rustlers, led by a town doctor named Cole (Arthur Space.) But Red doesn't know about that part yet, which is good as the film would have ended before homesteaders Bess Glazier (Peggy Stewart) and her brother, Tad (Harry Carr) move into Lava Valley, and begin to suffer no end of hardships.
Plus, the good doctor gets Red framed as being the leader of the rustlers, so a lot of action and plot takes place before "THE END" card sets on Republic's last Red Ryder film.
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