12 May 2014 | kevinolzak
Tom Keene and Lon Chaney
1933's "Scarlet River" was a Tom Keene Western depicting how a Hollywood studio (in this case RKO) goes about making such films, the same thing Lugosi's "The Death Kiss" did for murder mysteries. Judy Blake's Scarlet River Ranch is the perfect location for Keene's latest, but the unscrupulous foreman, Jeff Todd (Creighton Chaney), is in cahoots with villainous 'Clink' McPherson (Hooper Atchley), seeking to put her out of business and foreclose. Judy (Dorothy Wilson) has a younger brother who falls under Todd's bad influence, smoking, chewing tobacco, even lying to his big sis, until Tom manages to get things straightened out by the 54 minute mark. One scene shows a galloping horse making a pickup with the camera speeding alongside by car, in case you were wondering how it was done in those early days. Despite its lack of background music, it's 54 minute running time keeps things moving. The most famous sequence takes place early on in the studio commissary, as Keene is greeted by Joel McCrea, Myrna Loy, Julie Haydon, Bruce Cabot, and Rochelle Hudson, all playing themselves (in that order). In only his fourth film, 'Creighton Chaney' was to change his name two years later, building on these RKO efforts as 'Lon Chaney Jr.' Impressively third billed, 26 year old Creighton acquits himself well, yet after one more opposite Tom Keene ("Son of the Border") left RKO to freelance.