In Old California finds John Wayne in the highly unusual casting of an eastern dude from Boston going west to California to seek fame and fortune as California becomes American territory due to the Mexican cession. He might be an easterner, but you wouldn't expect John Wayne to be any kind of cream puff.
He'd better not be because he's starting to interest Binnie Barnes who is the gal pal of Albert Dekker, the local boss of Sacramento and the surrounding area. Wayne likes Barnes, but he's got his heart set on Helen Parrish who is the daughter of a local Spanish don.
You wouldn't expect pharmacy to be such a rough business, but it sure turns out that way In Old California. Out of jealousy, Dekker conceives a plot to rid himself of his rival. Ultimately however it's Dekker who gets caught in the web of his on intrigue.
Edgar Kennedy and Patsy Kelly make their one and only appearances in a John Wayne film and they make a real nice pair for the comic relief in the film. Also look for a good performance by Dick Purcell as Dekker's far slimier and deadlier brother.
The California Gold Rush saves the Duke from one of Dekker's nefarious schemes. The Gold Rush also brings in the typhoid epidemic where Wayne's pharmaceutical knowledge and supplies are needed to fight the disease. The epidemic also brings on a blazing gun battle as well as the Duke leads a wagon train through to the gold camps.
Binnie Barnes has a nice role herself as a wise cracking saloon girl with the proverbial golden heart.
Their are plot elements here of other John Wayne films like The Spoilers and Reap the Wild Wind. In this one it's John Wayne who has the role Ray Milland had against him in Reap the Wild Wind.
In Old California is one of Herbert J. Yates's better films featuring his meal ticket. Between loaning him out to the bigger studios and centering Republic's big budget features around the Duke, Yates and Wayne did a masterful job in making him a movie legend.
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