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  • An early Wayne western. Very entertaining and just plain fun! Wayne plays John Mason. He receives a letter prompting him to return and claim his half of a gold mine called the "Sally Anne". When Wayne returns he finds a girl … imagine that! She by chance had also received a letter.

    He then finds himself taking on some bandits in a haunted mine with a crazy catacomb of tunnels, under a ghost town, complete with creepy shadows, trap doors, secret passages & even organ music. As stated above it's just a fun who-dun-it. A weird kind of mix of mystery meets western. To the best of my recollection this had never been done prior to this movie ... and even if it had it was still a bit refreshing for me.
  • An early John Wayne western that only ran for an hour, this was surprisingly entertaining. Since he was a beginning actor and this was a Grade B-type of production, I didn't except it to be so entertaining, although now that I've watched a lot of early '30s films, I am not surprised. Movies in that era were pretty fast- moving ones.

    What makes this fun is the combination of western action, a few spooky things and comedy. The latter is mostly supplied by Blue Washington who plays "Clarence Washington Brown," a Mantan Morleand-like character. Yeah, I know this kind of role is demeaning to blacks and it's almost embarrassing to watch nowadays, but Washington was funny. The "western" part of the story is just so-so.
  • "Haunted Gold" was one of six "B" westerns produced by Warner Bros. for the 1932-33 season starring John Wayne. They were either out and out remakes of silent Ken Maynard films or they borrowed liberally, stock footage of Maynard and his horse Tarzan.

    The plot involves an abandoned gold mine haunted by a mysterious stranger known only as "The Phantom". Cowboy John Mason (Wayne) and his sidekick Clarence (Blue Washington) ride in to the mine site. Joe Ryan (Harry Woods) and his gang have already arrived looking for a lost gold treasure. Mason and Ryan are half owners of the mine, Mason having inherited his share from his father and Ryan having cheated the rightful owner out of his share.

    Lurking about are the mine's former manager Tom Benedict (Erville Anderson) and his servant Simon (Otto Hoffman). Janet Carter (Sheila Terry) the daughter of the rightful owner of her half interest is also on hand. It seems that all have been summoned to the site by mysterious notes to each from "The Phantom". Meanwhile, "The Phantom" skulks about peering out from behind secret panels keeping an eye on the proceedings.

    Mason and Janet team up to foil Ryan's attempts to gain control of the gold. Finally, "The Phantom's" identity is revealed and.................

    This film is arguably the best of Wayne's six Warner Bros. westerns. There were better production values than he would have in his later Lone Star westerns and he had the advantage of working for a major studio. The animated owls over the opening titles are the work of Producer Leon Schlesinger who was better known as the head of Warners Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoon factory.

    Wayne and his horse "Duke" were made up to match stock shots of Maynard and "Tarzan" in the earlier silent films. Long shots of the hero and horse and most of the stunts and stunt riding is Maynard.

    Having been filmed in 1932, two years before the implementation of Hollywood's Production Code, this film contains several racial slurs involving the "Clarence" character who is black. He is called both a "Darkie" and "Sambo", by the Woods character and is referred to as the hombre with "the watermelon accent" by gang members. Wayne's character even calls him "boy" in one scene.

    For trivia buffs, look for the statue that was used as the falcon in "The Maltese Falcon" (1941) atop the heroine's organ as she plays.
  • Early "B" John Wayne western with Duke playing a cowboy who comes to a ghost town where a bunch of bad hombres are looking for gold. There's a mysterious character named The Phantom trying to scare people away. Duke even rides a horse named Duke! He also has a black sidekick named Clarence that is the stereotypical "afraid of spooks" caricature of the time. So some viewers might take offense to that. It's a mix of genres and since Wayne never did any proper horror films, this is about as close as you're likely to get to seeing him in one. There are some attempts at horror/mystery atmosphere but it's pretty much a routine western of its type. Worth seeing for a baby-faced John Wayne and some good old school stunt work. Erville Alderson is a spooky plus. The original Maltese Falcon statuette from the 1931 film can be seen atop an organ in one scene. Pretty cool!
  • Haunted Gold is not a bad western for John Wayne from the series he made at Warner Brothers in 1932-1933. He's the owner of a ranch who's investigating some strange goings on at a mine where his father was once the part owner. The daughter of his dad's partner, Sheila Terry, received a letter about the mine and she's on the scene as well.

    There's a mysterious 'phantom' at work and Haunted Gold is starting to bare a resemblance to Abbott and Costello's Hold That Ghost. Never mind that it's a remake of an old Ken Maynard silent western.

    The comedy here comes from Blue Washington who plays Clarence Washington Brown, cook at Wayne's ranch and self-appointed bodyguard to his person. Sad to say that Blue Washington conforms generally to prevalent black stereotypes of the period. But actually if you take away the racial component, Washington really does act a whole lot like Lou Costello.

    As in all of Wayne's Warner Brothers films of the time, the Duke is aided and abetted by Duke the Wonder Horse. Most exciting scene is a fight with John Wayne and one of Harry Woods's gang of bad guys in a cable car above the mine. Duke the Horse comes to Wayne's rescue twice during that scene, actually quite exciting.

    It's too bad the racial stereotyping was there, but wouldn't a film with John Wayne with Lou Costello as a sidekick been real interesting? The mind boggles.
  • Haunted Gold is perhaps the closest John Wayne ever got to making a horror picture. It comes complete with secret passages, a ghostly figure, a graveyard, and a creepy butler.

    There's great spooky atmosphere in the early scenes but the scary stuff is soon abandoned in favor of a more conventional tale featuring bandits and the theft of a gold mine.

    The photography and sets are exquisite and the action scenes are top-notch, even if the script is typical. Fans of John Wayne and nineteen-thirties B-westerns will find it interesting if not entirely spectacular.

    However, Haunted Gold is tainted a bit by the racial stereotypes represented by Wayne's annoying sidekick Clarence, played by Blue Washington. The modern viewer might get a little embarrassed while watching it.
  • John Wayne made scores of B-Westerns in the thirties, and in some ways the few he did for Warner Bros. were among the more interesting, having somewhat better production values and execution. There are elements in "Haunted Gold" that would never have been covered by the budget of one of his Monogram programmers, but that's not saying much. It's pretty much the same old thing we'd see from Wayne for the next six or seven years -- good guy helps a sweet young thing outwit nefarious baddies out to cheat her or him out of something. Wayne has physical charm yet is still a callow actor at this time, though no one does much real acting in these. There's no George Hayes to lend true gravitas to the situation, and Erville Alderson, while always an interesting specimen to look at in the movies, is really terrible as a performer in the solid older man part. It's all not really much, until an exciting fight in a cable car between Wayne and an outlaw near the end. What is most notable (and most difficult) about the movie is the sidekick character, Clarence. "Haunted Gold" isn't the first nor would it be the last Hollywood movie to give a black actor bug-eyed terror and clichéd dialect for racial comic effect. But if there can be degrees of acceptability to such stereotyping, this movie seems to take it to a painful degree. For one thing, Blue Washington, who plays Clarence, is a strong, masculine figure of a man -- tall, muscled, intelligent of mien -- yet he scampers about whimpering about spooks and monsters like skinny little Willie Best. It seems immeasurably more degrading (though I'm not suggesting it wasn't degrading for other actors). Perhaps part of the difference is that Willie Best and Mantan Moreland, when they did their frightened "darkie" routine, were funny -- very funny. Watching Blue Washington do this stuff is like watching Sidney Poitier or James Earl Jones do it -- it's difficult not to focus on the humiliation of the actor. The script contains plenty of references to "darkies" and "Smoky" and "that watermelon accent," though Wayne's character treats Clarence more as an amusing comrade than a dimwit or a servant. But none of this makes "Haunted Gold" less uncomfortable an experience, at least if one has any empathy for Blue Washington, an actor who it seems had talent, even if it is sublimated beneath insensitive clichés here.
  • This western reminds me of an "old house film".....a ghost town with a "real" ghost! Secret panels, shadows on the walls, eyes peering thru slits in the walls, etc.

    It also gives Blue Washington the chance for some great "scared reaction" comedy (ala' Mantan Moreland or Willie Best).

    I don't much care for westerns, but the "supernatural" elements in this film make it worth watching!
  • 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.
  • John Wayne is Mason, in an early, credited role. Mason finds a note, which warns people to stay away from the Sally Ann Mine. of course, Mason owns half the rights to the mine, so he's not scared. he meets up with Janet Carter, whose father owned the other half at one point. but doesn't any more. the buildings all have secret hallways and passages, and someone or something steals the deed to Mason's mine. some inappropriate names they call the black actor which may have been common at the time the film was made, but is certainly very wrong now. this was a remake of Phantom City, acc to the trivia. old scenes from other films were included into this one. and it's only 58 minutes long as it is! the usual chases on horseback, fist fights, this one with running around the tunnels of a gold mine. a very young John Wayne, so he didn't have his slow, swagger yet. directed by Mack Wright. he had certainly put in his time as actor and assistant director, working up the ladder. it's okay.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    So says the trailer that I saw before the film - it packed everything into it - even a big wrap up for Duke, the wonder horse!!! Was that how John Wayne got his nickname???

    John Mason (Wayne) and his partner Clarence (Blue Washington) ride into a "ghost town". Someone called "the Phantom" is trying to keep people away from the Sally Ann Mine. Mason, who is the son of the Sally Ann Mine discoverer, has received a mysterious note to come to town. Janet Carter (Sheila Terry, a regular in these early John Wayne westerns) has also received a note. She is the daughter of Carter, a co-founder of the mine. There is also Joe Ryan (Harry Woods) whose father originally stole the mine from the other two men - needless to say he is the villain!! "The Phantom" is revealed as the letter writer - no spoilers here!!!

    As with a lot of John Wayne's early westerns there is plenty of action. Fast riding, an exciting fight in a cable car and then the obligatory jump onto Duke, then shenanigans in an abandoned mine.

    I agree with the other reviewers, the racist humour is hard to take. I also agree, I think Blue Washington looked a very dignified performer ( unlike Mantan Moreland and Willie Best who both sounded and acted like funny men)and it made me quite uncomfortable watching him babble and dressed up like a ghost - they even wheel out the old "turning the black man white" trick. Looking at his long list of films "Haunted Gold" was one of the few films were he actually had a credited performance, also that he specialised in these sort of characterizations, which was very sad.

    Martha Mattox was the creepy housekeeper, playing the same role that she played to perfection in "The Cat and the Canary" (1927).

    "Duke - the Wonder Horse" had lots of tricks up his sleeve - he even (singlehandedly) fetches the law at the movie's end. He looked like a beautiful palomino.
  • boblipton29 October 2020
    Sheila Terry and John Wayne don't know each other, but their fathers were partners in a played-out gold mine. They've each received letters asking them to come to the ghost town near the mine, where Harry Woods is claiming a half interest.

    The movie starts off with some Old Dark House tropes, including someone watching from behind the walls. You can see the beginnings of a faster pace for westerns, with half the players talking at an annoyingly slow clip, while Miss Terry, Wayne, Woods, and Blue Washington is Wayne's comic sidekick speak like human beings. The riding sequences, as usual for this period, go on for far too long.

    It's an interesting idea to mix two genres, but the abrupt dropping of the horror elements to move ahead with the plot makes that a waste of time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Copyright 7 February 1933 by Vitagraph, Inc. A Warner Bros. picture. No New York opening. U.S. release: 17 December 1932. U.K. release: May 1933. 57 minutes. (Available on an excellent Warner Home Video DVD).

    SYNOPSIS: Hampered by bandits, two heirs try to find a missing fortune in an abandoned gold mine. This film is a re-make of the 1928 silent "The Phantom City" which starred Ken Maynard and Eugenia Gilbert. The director was Albert Rogell, the photographer Ted McCord. "Blue" Washington repeats his original role..

    COMMENT: It would be wrong to exaggerate the virtues of this little western, but the fact is that on a first viewing - despite some clumsy effects that don't quite come off - it's a mighty entertaining little piece. It's only on a second look that you realize the reason for the mismatched cuts, under-cranking and too dark location photography is that the producer has liberally spliced in footage from the 1928 silent version, "The Phantom City". Not only have whole action sequences - including an elaborate chase in which our hero foils his pursuers by pulling a whole house down in their tracks, plus a wonderfully exciting ascent up a mine shaft with displaced beams falling right into the camera, plus a truly astonishing series of stunts from a bucket suspended over a canyon, plus an amazing bit of business when "Duke" (the horse, not Wayne) forces one of the heavies over a cliff - been incorporated, but even background and establishing shots.

    Nonetheless, that first viewing is certainly a marvelous entertainment experience. You think to yourself, how can they afford all this excitement, all this elaborate staging on a "B" budget? True, the players are strictly second-rate, though Wayne himself gives a likable and ingratiating performance. By contrast, the other players are somewhat traditionally stiff.

    Although heavy-handed and even at times inept, the direction tries mightily to get plenty of spooky atmosphere out of the sets and situations. In some scenes Wright successfully employs an unusually large variety of odd camera angles. Musuraca's shadow-laden photography is also an asset.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If you're a fan of these old time B Westerns, you'll probably get a kick out of a minor sub-genre of ghost themed oaters that cropped up from time to time back in the day. "Haunted Gold" just might be the earliest, at least the earliest of a handful I've come across in recent years. There's 1936's "Ghost-Town Gold" with the Three Mesquiteers, a 1945 programmer with Buster Crabbe and Fuzzy St. John called "His Brother's Ghost", Fuzzy again with Lash La Rue in 1947's "Ghost Town Renegades", and 1950's "Streets of Ghost Town" with Charles Starrett as The Durango Kid. Oddly, this early John Wayne flick for Warners might be the best of the lot, with decent production values and some interesting elements to elevate one's interest. For one, Wayne's sidekick in the picture was a black man, portrayed by Blue Washington as John Mason's (Wayne) self appointed bodyguard and day time cook at Mason's ranch. Another was Wayne's horse Duke, who got shared billing with him at the top of the credits. I'll get back to Duke in a bit.

    The haunted theme gets an early workout with some cartoony bat images during the opening credits sequence; seeing Leon Schlesinger's name associated with the picture as producer made sense at that point, as he went on to helm Warner's Looney Tunes unit shortly after. There's also good use of a howling wolf, a darkened cemetery, mysterious shadows and a lights out sequence at the villain shack. Blue Washington's presence was undoubtedly meant to personify the wide eyed, scaredy cat stereotype, though his physical stature didn't seem to lend itself much to comic relief. As others have mentioned on this board, some uncomfortable and demeaning racial slurs were directed at him, like darkie, smoky, and a reference to his watermelon accent. He even had a line - "Lordy boss, a spook, the Phantom himself done snitched it" - that seemed to cast a racial tone. Of course this was not uncommon during the Thirties and Forties, with films that often used epithets with characters of ethnic origin; just catch a Charlie Chan flick for some more examples.

    As for the story, it pretty much boils down to one of your classic B Western plot elements, with evil villain Joe Ryan (Harry Woods) attempting to swindle John Mason and Janet Carter (Sheila Terry) out of their shares of the long abandoned Sally Ann gold mine. Both had been summoned to Ghost City by an unknown letter writer revealed by the end of the story, but you'll have to watch to find out who.

    Back to Duke, the horse that is. You know, he had quite a bit of quality screen time in the picture, and in a move I haven't seen before, he uses his horsepower (sorry, couldn't resist) to help rider Mason pull down a shack on the bad guy posse. Later on, he comes to the other Duke's rescue in the stalled cable car by knocking one of the henchmen off a cliff (yikes!), and absolutely going berserk to pull the rope tether off the hitching post. I think Duke might have given Trigger a run for the Smartest Horse in Movies.

    Interestingly, Wayne portrayed a character named John Mason in one of his programmers for Monogram's Lone Star unit in 1935, "The Dawn Rider". In another harbinger of things to come, Wayne closes out the picture in a smooch with his leading lady, Sheila Terry, in about the same way he does with her in 1934's "Neath the Arizona Skies". That same year, "The Lawless Frontier" has Wayne's Sheriff Tobin calling the new Mrs. Tobin by phone to close out the story, so in that one, they actually wound up getting married.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    " . . . with that watermelon accent," one White Dude says to another as HAUNTED GOLD proves that John Wayne flicks were chock full of Racism from their earliest days. During GOLD, Wayne constantly demeans his older Black Employee, "Clarence," (played by Blue Washington) by calling him "Boy." This and Wayne's many subsequent films in which he portrays a string of lazy Racist Antebellum (or Pre-Civil War) Southerners, Ex-Confederate War Criminals, and U.S. Cavalry Officers waging Genocidal War against North America's First Nations goes a long way toward explaining why "Il Duce" was extremely popular in America's Ku Klux Klan Kountry, but not so much anywhere normal human beings lived. Though Wayne could tolerate working with mostly-White buffoons putting on "Redface" to portray "Indians" for him to massacre, he was notoriously skittish around Blacks, who had few memorable co-starring roles with him among any of his 166 feature films. Though Mr. Washington's part here played as "Comic Relief" in that part of America universally viewed as backward and inbred Then, as well as Today, quantity always Trumps quality in the U.S., as the Racist Trumping King still teaches us daily.
  • Haunted Gold (1932)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    This was one of six films John Wayne made for Warner's years before he would become famous after the success of STAGECOACH. Wayne has to share top billing with Duke, his horse, but I'm sure he didn't mind that too much. Rival gangs both want the claim to a mine, which might be full of gold but the big problem is that it's haunted with the spirit known as The Phantom. This early blend of the Western and "old dark house" genre isn't as bad as you'd expect, although there's some rather strange and mean spirited racism throughout the movie. One interesting thing was that Blue Washington, a black actor, got to play the sidekick to Wayne, which was a nice change of pace considering most sidekicks at that time were white. This new item quickly turned sour as for the most part he was just playing the ignorant stereotype, which included various jokes being thrown at him including being called "Darkie" and one scene where he pretends to be The Phantom only to have a guy say he wasn't because of his "watermelon accent". Outside of that, this is a fairly enjoyable film that manages to make good use of both genres. The horror elements start off with an animated sequence with some bats and the shadow of what's clearly meant to be a Dracula like character. We get the various "spooky" items including cobwebs, black cats, rats and other goodies. The red herrings pop up from time to time and are way too obvious. Check out the scene where Wayne is having coffee with his girl (Sheila Terry) only to have the maid acting like a bad guy. How obvious and over the top she is made me break down laughing. Wayne gives a decent performance even though he hadn't quite gotten his style down yet but I don't think there's any doubt that Duke gets the best scenes.
  • In the 1930s, John Wayne starred in a long string of low-budget westerns--even by B-movie standards. Despite their very low production values, the films are mostly pretty watchable today--making them among the better western series films of the day. However, even though they GENERALLY were good films, there were also quite a few a turkeys--and this one was definitely a terrible film. Much of the reason is the weird decision to give Wayne a black sidekick--a definite rarity among this genre. While this would seem like a very progressive thing for 1932, it definitely was not due to the horrible sort of character this man (Clarence) was in the film. I think the only reason a black man was cast was to promote the old stereotype of a stupid and scared black man--a definite cheap laugh getter of the day. Throughout the film, Clarence refers to Wayne as 'boss' and spends most of his on-screen time being afraid--and is thoroughly offensive. It is cringe-inducing to say the least!

    "Haunted Gold" is not just bad because of the negative black character, however. Political correctness aside, there is little (other than excellent stunt-work) to recommend it. The plot is pretty silly. Seeing Wayne and the rest riding about on horses and acting the way they do even though the film is apparently set in 1932 is pretty weird. Also, the idea of a caped creep scaring people off their ranches is awfully silly and the film abounds with clichés and stereotypes.

    As for the stunts, however, some of these cheap old films did have amazing action sequences. The horse knocking the guy off the cliff was clever, the scene of the guy falling from the gondola was cool, Clarence supposedly falling through the floor spectacular and the fight on an out of control buckboard amazing. But stunts alone do not make up for a thoroughly terrible film. Offensive and stupid...with cool stunts. John Wayne fans can look elsewhere for a film worth seeing.
  • The only reason to watch this is that it features John Wayne early on in in his acting career. Hardly his first movie, it was only six years into his career and three years since he got his first movie credit. Wayne is hardly recognisable: much thinner than most of us remember him, and didn't have the trademark confidence and swagger yet. The voice is unmistakable, however.

    Fittingly for a John Wayne movie, Haunted Gold is a western. However it is a far cry from the epic westerns he would later star in. Fairly basic, sometimes silly, plot. Flows well though - doesn't get bogged down at any time.

    Wayne gives a solid performance in the lead role, and is well supported by Sheila Terry. Interestingly, his horse - Duke (of course) - gets second billing!

    Most of the other performances are so bad they're comical.

    The other embarrassing thing is the script for Wayne's African- American sidekick, Clarence (played by Blue Washington). The writer and director go out of their way to stereotype his character and make him appear simple. Many of his jokes are meant to make you laugh at him, rather than with him. Sad, and an indicator of much less enlightened times.
  • On a dark and windy night, harmonica-playing cowboy John Wayne (as John Mason) arrives in a shadowy town, atop his smart-witted horse "Duke". Mr. Wayne is annoyed to find slavish, dim-witted cook Blue Washington (as Clarence Washington Brown) has followed; the servant was ordered to remain back at the ranch. A noticeably superstitious man, Mr. Washington wants to help boss Wayne, but crooks don't fear his "watermelon accent." Wayne's mission is to claim his half-share in a gold mine. He meets pretty blonde Sheila Terry (as Janet Carter), who also may be entitled to a half-interest in the mine...

    Wayne must battle dastardly Harry Woods (as Joe Ryan) before he and Ms. Terry can put their halves together. "Haunted Cave" has a couple of good action sequences, but they must have been lifted from "The Phantom City" (1928), with actor Ken Maynard and/or his stunt-man in Wayne's role. Washington reprised his role from the earlier film, where his "watermelon accent" was depicted on title cards. As the housekeeper, Martha Mattox is a welcome fright.

    ** Haunted Gold (12/17/32) Mack V. Wright ~ John Wayne, Blue Washington, Sheila Terry, Harry Woods