"The Lawless Frontier" is another of John Wayne's Lone Star westerns released in the 1933-35 period. As in many of the other entries in the series, this one was written and directed by Robert N. Bradbury (who was Bob Steele's father by the way.) Again the cast is made up mostly from the "Lone Star Stock Company" of players.
The plot has young John Tobin (Wayne) arriving at his father's ranch just after he has been killed by a gang of rustlers headed by bandit Pandro Zanti (Earl Dwire) and his gang. Zanti, who for what it is worth, is half Apache, half white, is posing as a Mexican outlaw complete with accent.
Zanti comes upon the small ranch of Dusty (George Hayes) and his comely young grand daughter Ruby (Sheila Terry), and decides to take the girl unto himself. Arriving just as Zanti is about to murder Dusty and carry off Ruby, Tobin arrives and joins forces with Dusty to bring the bandits to justice. Tobin has an eye for the lovely Ruby as well. Into the mix rides Sheriff Luke Williams (Jack Rockwell) who is also in pursuit of the bandits. In true "B" western fashion, the good guys win out over the baddies and guess who gets the girl.
As in most of Wayne's Lone Star Westerns, the level is raised somewhat by the expert stunt work of the legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt. He jumps a horse over a cliff and performs several horse falls and riding stunts in this one, as well as playing the part of Dwire's henchman Joe.
In the world of poverty row quickies, re-takes almost never happened. This film is no exception. Watch the scene where Wayne chases and takes down Dwire. As they get up out of the dust, Wayne's gun and holster suddenly switch from his right side to his left and back to the right again as he mounts his horse.
George Hayes was still a couple of years away from his grizzled old sidekick of "Windy/Gabby". In this film though he looks like Gabby and sounds like Gabby but plays it straight. Hayes played a variety of character roles in this series and didn't settle into his sidekick role until he joined the Hopalong Cassidy series in 1935. The "Gabby" character didn't come along until he moved to Republic around 1938 to ride with Roy Rogers. John Wayne was still learning his trade at this point but if you watch closely you can catch glimpses of his future on-screen persona emerging.
Average "B" western lifted a notch or two by the excellent stunt work.
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