26 August 2007 | Chance2000esl
A Good Pre-Code Ken Maynard Western
Although many Ken Maynard features are noted for their lack of believability in the story telling, there was something about his on screen presence that makes us watch him -- he just comes off as the 'real thing.' You could see it in the way he would instinctively pat or interact with his horse(!!) and delivering such dialog to the heroine as, "Miss Jenny, you spill a kinda mean loop yourself. You've got me just as good as throwed and hog tied already." To which Jenny replies, "That makes me awfully happy, Ken." Woo! they don't make movies like this any more!
This one is thoroughly enjoyable and has a touch of mysterious creepiness. "The Phantom," dressed all in black with a bat-like cape, inhabits Tombstone Canyon, where he picks off with a shotgun various hands of the Lazy S ranch. Ken shows up there on his way to find out the identity of his father, but gets involved with Jenny Lee (Cecelia Parker) at her father's ranch branding and 'dehorning' cattle.
For more of Cecelia before her Andy Hardy movies, check out the serial "The Lost Jungle" (1934) and the John Wayne "Riders of Destiny" (1933).
The Western elements all build quickly; in fact, it begins with Ken being ambushed in the Canyon by an unknown gang. Then we swiftly get fist fights, the romance ("Let's go get the ring!"), Ken being framed and jailed for murder, and shoot outs in Tombstone Canyon. There's one too many visits to Tombstone Canyon, and the final hunt down for Ken there goes too slowly.
But then we have a great action finale with 'The Phantom,' Alf Sykes, his son and Ken all fighting or hanging off the highest cliff while Jenny and her father's men speed to the rescue with Ken's horse 'Tarzan.'
A good 1930s western, mainly because of Ken Maynard.