The opening credits would have had me scrunched down in my seat; then when a creepy hand appeared my eyes would have closed but I would have opened one eye slightly so I wouldn't miss anything good about to happen. A good thing too because a man was missing and then a picture frame moves revealing a pair of eyes.
Then the scene changes as we see John Wayne appearing being followed by Clarence, his ranch cook, who gets to play the same character Mantan Moreland played in the old Sidney Toler Charlie Chan films. In other words, he is there to be the black comic relief who comes close to saying "hooves, don't fail me now." He is a cowboy who rides a horse, but he doesn't want to go to any haunted mine with spooks and all.
And back at the haunted ghost town, Joe Ryan and his men start shooting at shadows, or was it the phantom. But Ryan won't be spooked: he has a half interest in the Sally Ann mine. John Mason (Wayne) owns the other half. Janet Taylor had owned the other half but it was lost to Ryan. Regardless, Mason has received a message to show up as his half interest in the mine is in jeopardy. Janet Taylor received a similar message but doesn't know why; she has no ownership rights. Worse, she tells Mason that she feels she is being watched and she is!
So, will Mason figure out what's going on? Will he be able to return to Janet her half ownership? Will he convince Clarence there are no ghosts? Will he see that Joe Ryan and his men get what they deserve? Will he find out if Simon really is deaf and dumb?
I love the scene when Janet Taylor comes down stairs dressed as if she were going on a fox hunt with knee high riding boots, a shirt and tie, wearing a blazer and topped off with a feathered riding cap. Next Janet learns from Benedict that she was cheated out of her half of the mine by Ryan and that her father was framed and sent to prison.
Mason tries to trick Ryan to get Janet's share of the mine back but his plan backfires and the phantom steals the mine ownership. What follows is a mash up of events that would have had kids sitting wide eyed waiting to see what happens next.
The thirties were a great time for Western. John Wayne alone was cranking out about five Westerns a year and there was a massive amount of cowboy heroes. This is a fun film and is very entertaining but the PC police wouldn't know where to start as Blue Washington (Clarence) suffers through a long series of indignities. At least in this film he receives credit.
3 out of 4 found this helpful