1 November 2005 | krorie
A good Buck Jones early talkie western
Before there were Roy, Gene, and Hoppy, there were Tom, Bill, and Buck. None of the older cowboy stars was a singer. Bill (William S. Hart) was the most authentic of the three, Tom Mix the most romantic, but it was Buck Jones who made the most successful transition from silent westerns to talkies in the 1930's. Though I was born too late to remember any of the Buck Jones features first hand, my mother was a great fan of his and told me many stories about him and his movies. When he died in the Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire in Boston in 1942 all kinds of apocryphal stores began to circulate across the nation. One that my mother actually believed was that Buck died when he went back into the club to save his horse, Silver. I never told her that from my research there were no animals other than human in the club when it burned. Buck Jones was a larger than life cowboy hero to his many fans.
"Forbidden Trail" is one of his early talkies and it's a fairly good oater. What might seem strange to later fans of the genre is the humor provided not just by a comical sidekick but by the star himself. In the film, Buck and his pal Happy are practical jokers and do both physical and oral humor. One is reminded of the later Sunset Carson films featuring Smiley Burnette when both did humor. Because Buck is looked on as a joke in the early stages of the film, it surprises everyone when later he catches the bad guys because of his riding, fighting, and shooting abilities. Barbara Weeks is the love interest and she never doubts Buck's ability to handle the situation. She stands beside him even when he is accused of murder and arson. There is a whole passel of outlaws provided headed by the double dealing 'Cash' Karger (Wallis Clark).
Beware that this was made in 1932 when Hollywood was infamous for its racial stereotyping. Wong, the cook, has at least one racial slur hurled at him during his few brief appearances.
This early Buck Jones talkie is well worth watching. If you've never seen one of the pre-singing cowboy Saturday matinée flicks, this one may surprise you, plenty of action and no music to slow things down.