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  • "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.
  • So what can you say about a film that has the villain hamming it up with a lousy Mexican accent, an opening that has an atrocious editing job(mixing day and night footage in the same scene)and a dumb sheriff who wants to arrest the wrong man and botches his handcuffing of the real villain? For all its faults, it's actually not too bad. The chase scenes actually are quite good, with realistic falls from horseback by the girl and the villain in separate sequences. In real life, galloping over rough terrain, often with people shooting at one another, would cause those spills frequently. Once you get past the horrendous opening, Archie Stout's photography is pretty good for a B movie. I especially liked the desert foot-chase scene, with the towering basalt cliffs of Red Rock Canyon in the background. All told, the action sequences and sometimes stunning photography kept this and other John Wayne potboilers from being dull and gave depression-era audiences their money's worth, which was what made B westerns so popular in the first place. Just like audiences back then did, I sat back and enjoyed the ride, bumpy though it may be at times. Dale Roloff
  • John's parents are killed by a renegade bandit, played to the hilt by perennial bad guy, Earl Dwire. Dwire injures Hayes, who joins with John to bring him and his gang to justice.

    The local sheriff, Jack Rockwell, is convinced that John's one of the gang, and when Hayes is shot, arrests John for the shooting.

    There are the usual chases, gun battles, and fights that hallmark these "B" Westerns. There is one extended walking scene where you can see the Duke perfecting his special walk that became a trademark.

    An excellent stunt has John riding a log down a large drainage ditch. Pretty amazing, and not without danger to the actor.

    Beware though, the DVD copy looks as if they took the print from an Extended Play (EP) VHS copy. Very disappointing, but, a classic from John Wayne.
  • Secret passages, dynamite explosions, lots of hard riding, and the great team of Hayes and Wayne, so what else can a front-row kid turned old geezer ask for. Nothing. The movie's got it all. Okay, the plot's got more crazy twists than a corkscrew and Earl Dwire's Mexican accent is the worst until Larry Storch's Gunfever (1958), but who cares. It's Wayne at his likable peak and Hayes's Gabby is about three-quarters complete. Some great stunts, as expected from a cast that includes maestro Yakima Canutt, along with a leading lady who really can ride (one bad trip-wire stunt, my only complaint). Watch for the unexpected and humorous twist when Wayne takes a short-cut to nail Dwire. Sometimes these programmers can surprise you. I guess kids don't play cowboy anymore. Computers have taken away imaginary play. Too bad. Now, if I were just x years younger, I'd strap on my cap pistol, get my stick horse and join up with the posse. But first I got to get me one of those really big, big hats.
  • frank412228 September 2019
    There's a lot to love about "The Lawless Frontier". There's great stuntwork from Yakima Canutt, a lot of action as Duke slides down a secret passageway like a bobsledder, the gorgeous Sheila Terry, and her grandfather none other than Gabby Hayes. Great western character actor Earl Dwire is the bandito Zanti with henchman Canutt, Buffalo Bill Jr. and their gang who are terrorizing the ranchlands. Stalwart law of the west actor Jack Rockwell plays the sheriff but he's more like Barney Fife in this one. This makes things interesting for Gabby and Duke as Zanti's chicanery is limitless. Robert Bradbury writes and directs another wonderful early John Wayne western that is most enjoyable.
  • A fake-Mexican bandit plots to have Gabby Hayes killed so that he could step in and "save the day" for Gabby's daughter, thus making her one of his conquests. Luckily, she overhears their plans and John Wayne is nearby. Unlucky for Wayne, the local sheriff is a stubborn dummy who immediately suspects him of being one of the bandits!

    This is one of the best and faster-paced of Wayne's Lone Star vehicles, with lots of action and stunts, great locations, and a colorful ruthless villain played nicely by Earl Dwire.

    I don't know where all this bad editing everyone is complaining about went, but I didn't witness it. Then again, the print I saw was shorter (49 minutes, 40 seconds) than the ones listed. Maybe someone fixed it.
  • The most die-hard worshippers of John Wayne will cringe when they watch The Lawless Frontier. Even for a poverty row studio, this one is one stinkeroo.

    Unusual for a western we have a criminal who is a sex crime perpetrator. Earl Dwire plays a halfbreed white and Indian who for reasons that are not explained, pretends he's a Mexican, hokey accent and all. Dwire sounds like the Frito Bandito of advertising fame back in the day.

    He and his gang happen upon Gabby Hayes and his daughter Sheila Terry. They really don't have anything worth robbing, but Dwire just wants an excuse to kidnap Terry and have his way with her. She hears the dastardly fate she has in store and she and Hayes flee the ranch.

    Where they happen to meet John Wayne who's on the trail of the bandits. They also run into one very stupid sheriff who believes Wayne is one of the bandits. Again for reasons I can't quite fathom.

    It was a tough way to earn a living grinding out horse operas like these for the Duke. Fortunately better things were on the way.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Even die hard John Wayne fans will have to concede that this film is a mess. Wayne's character, John Tobin is after the gang that killed his parents, led by half Apache, half white renegade Pandro Zanti (Earl Dwire), posing as a Mexican.

    There are almost too many silly plot points to count, but those that stand out include Sheriff Williams (Jack Rockwell) cuffing a captured Zanti around his boot, so all Zanti has to do to get free is remove his boot! Tobin's friend Dusty (George pre-Gabby Hayes) takes a thrown knife in the back, and comes back good as new for the rest of the story. In a chase scene, Tobin rides a makeshift log flume through a drainage trough surrounded by log walls in the middle of a desert, and missing his mark, chases (actually walks after) Zanti on foot through the desert. Zanti seeks relief and drinks from a pool of water, but OOPS!, he didn't see the sign above the waterhole that states "Don't Drink Poison". As Zanti collapses dead, Tobin resumes his chase after the remainder of the gang, and captures the whole lot by blowing up a rock wall that seals a secret passage into Dusty's cabin - how convenient.

    In the closing scene, the new Sheriff Tobin is seen on the phone talking to the new Mrs. Tobin (Sheila Terry), Dusty's daughter Ruby, who earlier in the film was a kidnap target of Zanti's gang. Apparently, the studio was intent on Wayne's getting the girl in virtually every film they made with him, as this type of ending is completely predictable for almost all of Lone Star's films.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    John Wayne's father is killed by a half breed cattle rustler and his gang. Wayne gives chase and ends up confused for the same bad guy by a sheriff looking into the attack on a girl and her grandfather. Wayne is cleared and he continues the search. One of the best of Wayne's Lone Star Westerns. It starts at the start and runs all of the way to the end with no side trips into silliness or romance (Many of these films get side tracked for a third or more of the running time where it distracts from the main narrative thrust). Its full of action and possesses a couple of neat twists. There is a really good kicker towards the end that makes the film worth seeing. If the film has any flaw it's that the film is lacking a music score which makes the pacing seem off, its not since the film tears through its 50 odd minute run time at a good clip. If you're going to try one of the Lone Star films, try this one.
  • This is probably Wayne's poorest movie; at least the poorest in which he had a starring role. It's just incredibly bad. The editing is especially awful; it really appears that the editor (if there was one)literally picked up pieces of film off the floor and pasted them together. The opening has to be seen to be believed. John Wayne must have cringed every time it was mentioned! I know there are "B" films - but are there "H" films? If so, this one's an example. And I say this as a devoted JW fan.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The one scene that I think is great is where JW calls for his dad and forces open the door into a darkened cabin then lights a match showing his own face. The lighting of that scene, strong shadows and bright highlights on JW is nicely done. It seems to be the case with many of these early westerns made on tight schedules and budgets that talent was there, just not given the time or money to flourish.

    I liken them to the difference between a sketch artist and a portrait painter. Both may be talented and capable but where the portrait painter can spend the time to nuance the shade and tone of a back-lighted cheek the sketch artist must leave the paper untouched.

    Also, I remember seeing one of these B-westerns on a Saturday morning where the hero mounted his horse by putting his foot in the stirrup and standing straight up in one real smooth move and swinging his leg over and nailing his boot into the other stirrup as his hands took the reins and the horse took off at a gallop. Never did the cowboy hunker down or jerk his shoulders or kick his spurs. Start to finish it was polished with no wasted motions.

    To a 10 year old it looked COOL. I got out of the movie theater and went to the bicycle rack. I think that's when I realized you really have to practice the little things to truly finesse them.

    Spoiler spoiler

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    Trivia question from this movie.

    Did John Wayne ever use a body board to hydroplane on water?? Skeleton Style??

    So maybe not a great movie but it does has some nifty scenes in it.
  • btreakle11 September 2020
    So so
    Lawless frontier is not one of my favorite John Wayne movies but considering the year that it was made and all the action of jumping on and off the horse it was still worth a 7 out of 10 stars to me.
  • John Wayne and Gabby Hayes team up to take on bandit and (for some unexplained reason) fake Mexican, Pandro Zanti. What a name. Anyway, Wayne is out for revenge because Zanti killed his parents in the film's opening scene. Gabby Hayes also has a pretty daughter, played by Sheila Terry. Zanti's eyes bulge out when he first sees her so you can assume what that means. Hayes and Terry live in a ramshackle old place yet they manage to have a secret passageway behind a cabinet. There's also a deeply stupid sheriff to complicate things for our hero. Pretty corny stuff, for the most part. As with most of the B westerns Wayne did for Lone Star around this time, the highlight is the stuntwork of Yakima Canutt. Animal lovers prepare yourselves there's some rough-looking stunts for the horses in this one.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What distinguishes some of the 'Lone Star' films (and many others in western and adventure films of the early thirties) was their lack of what we recognize as formulaic story telling. To be sure they had good vs. evil (the basic element of any Western), boy meets girl and some stock characters, such as the old rancher and his beautiful daughter or grand daughter, and sometimes the evil banker or other businessman, but the way the action played out was often different from film to film.

    'The Lawless Frontier' features Earl Dwire in his big star turn (not) as (for some inexplicable reason) Pandro Zanti, a 'half Apache, half American posing as a Mexican who speaks the language fluently.' His biggest posing as a Mexican seemed to be his outrageous mariachi clothes. The only plot seems to be that he wants to steal Ruby, the granddaughter of "Old Dusty" (Gabby Hayes). When meeting her for the first time, Dwire gives her a long once over look that puts him in the big leagues with sexual predators. You'd think that because the opening scene shows Zanti killing John (Wayne) Tobin's father off camera, it would play a bigger part in the film. It doesn't. Too much chasing back and forth between heroes and villains.

    We get many good stunts, though, from Yakima Canutt, including pulling Ruby up on his horse when he rides by, jumping on 'renegades' and knocking them off their horses, a horse leap off a cliff into a lake, and even the same slide down the sluice sequence that was in "The Lucky Texan" (1934), although this time the Mighty Yak uses a body surfing log instead of straddling a tree bough, and its inclusion is just as illogical this time too, since they are in a desert.

    The high point is clearly John Wayne's measured and methodical well photographed walk across the desert after the fleeing and stumbling Zanti with those fantastic basalt cliffs of Red Rock Canyon (seen in countless serials, westerns and science fiction 'moon' movies) framed behind him. No final gun duel at fifty paces with the heroine running from the wooden steps of the bar to embrace and kiss the conquering hero in this movie! When John Wayne finally catches up with him, Zanti drinks poisoned water from a waterhole and dies.

    After a couple too many chase sequences, Zantai's gang is finally captured in Dusty's cabin, emerging one by one from behind a swivel cabinet that apparently leads to a canyon, now blocked off by having been dynamited. No riding off into the sunset or obligatorily kissing the girl: The final shot is Ruby, now Mrs. John Tobin, on the telephone to the now Sheriff John Tobin, "What would Sheriff Tobin like for dinner?" The film also has poor lighting and editing at the beginning, the pacing is slow, some parts with the sheriff cause it to drag, and the horse chases fill up the film. So despite the different and unusual elements, it comes off as one of the weaker Lone Stars.
  • slokes29 December 2014
    The worst of the Lone Star John Wayne westerns is a real drag to watch, whether you like John Wayne or just have better things to do with 50 minutes.

    That Pedro Zanti (Earl Dwire) is one crafty villain. We are told he is half-white, half-Apache, but pretends to be a Mexican for some reason, which means he imitates Ricardo Montalb√°n even when issuing orders to his gang during a cattle-rustling job. He's so crafty he even fixes it so the theft takes place both at day and at night, depending on which camera is shooting. He speaks English fluently, yet is undone in the end because they don't write warning signs in bad accents.

    The nominal hero of the piece, John Tobin (John Wayne), is the son of one of Zanti's victims, as seen in the opening, when he discovers his dead father after lighting a match. Wayne grimaces as if he had a bad meal, which is about all the emotion he bothers to project. You think you are getting a revenge film, but after pretty Sheila Terry shows up needing rescue in a nearby river, that element gets flung by the wayside as Tobin decides to help her out. Luckily for him, this is a film chock-a-full of bad coincidences, so he can bag Zanti and the girl without as much as a cutaway shot.

    Dwire, a solid performer in other Lone Star films, narrows his eyes and smiles a lot, looking ridiculously out-of-place in his charro outfit and spindly legs.

    Everyone seems to be sleepwalking in this one. Director Robert N. Bradbury aims for the youngsters, with hidden doors and lots of shooting and dangerous-looking horse falls. About the only half- interesting plot element to be found in "The Lawless Frontier" is a sheriff character who doesn't much care about doing his job, announcing "I don't trust nobody!" He blames Tobin for everything, steals credit for Zanti's capture, and stupidly allows Zanti to escape by handcuffing his boot to a bedpost, as if he thinks the boot is part of his foot. The sheriff is so stupidly incompetent, he's the one character in this film that almost works.

    "He started off alright, but he's sure gone to seed," says a fellow named Dusty played by George (not yet "Gabby") Hayes.

    You can't say the same for "Lawless Frontier," not after its confused day-for-night-for-day opener. It never goes to seed but stays bad right up to the silly ending where Tobin manages to trap a gang of bad guys with a crate of dynamite that just happens to be lying around. I guess it gave the little nippers a bang, and let the adults in the theater know it was time to wake up.
  • One of the other reviewers was right--this film was horribly edited--as if by a blind guy on crack! I assume this was NOT how the film was originally released--as even for a low-budget B-movie it was pretty shabby. In addition, some knuckle-heads at Fox-Lorber decided to 'improve' this public domain film by adding a new musical track--a musical track that was just god-awful. The instruments are new and very electronic, the music was used indiscriminately (and often inappropriately) and it was the exact same track used in many John Wayne B-westerns--exactly the same! It was just dreadful but you can't blame the people at Lone Star Pictures who made the film.

    "The Lawless Frontier" was a below average Wayne outing--mostly due to the terribly dumb Sheriff--no one can be that dumb or incompetent! An outlaw named Zanti is posing as a Mexican--why, I have no idea. The main problem with catching him is that the local Sheriff is an idiot and seems to have no desire to do anything. Naturally, Wayne will save the day.

    The only pluses for this film are the wonderful stunts--even better than you'd normally see in these Wayne B-films. A few of the stunts were just stunning and you have to see them to believe them. But, a dumb villain and Sheriff, a stabbing that somehow leaves Gabby feeling a-o.k. and some choppy elements to the film make this very tough to watch. If you do want to see it, download it from IMDb for free--it's much better than seeing the yecchy version by Fox-Lorber shown on the Encore Channel.
  • Starring John Wayne, Gabby Hayes, and Buffalo Bill Junior (no relation to buffalo bill. On imdb, he's listed as Jay Wilsey !) Wayne had started getting credited roles in 1930, and in this one, he's Tobin, who comes to the aid of an old guy and his daughter. the town goes after the outlaw Zanti. The first few scenes are very dark, but this one is so old, i guess we're lucky to still have it at all. Jack Rockwell is the sheriff, and no-one is sure which side the sheriff is on! lots of horses galloping, chases through the desert. Writer /Director Robert Bradbury was born Ronald, and must have started about the time the film process was invented. In this one, he's listed as R.N. Bradbury in the credits. It's a VERY typical western, where someone jumps to the WRONG conclusion, and someone is blamed for something he didn't do.... meh. what else is on?
  • You have to be a diehard John Wayne fan to watch some of these lonestar productions he did early in his career. Some are actually pretty good and others not so much.

    In this one it's difficult to tell what's going on most of the time and it's laugh out loud funny as they keep riding back and forth on their horses about the last 15 minutes of the film. Twice would have been suffice but it felt like they cut back and forth to them riding on their horses about a million times (which they do a lot in Wayne's Lonestar production films, but it seems the most in this one)
  • Another cheap and cheerful Lone Star outing for the Duke - this time avenging his murdered father with the ever-helpful Gabby Hayes at his side. The culprit is the evil rustling bandido Zanti (Earl Dwire) and his gang and they are soon firmly set in his sights. The glamour comes from a really rather shrieky Shiela Terry with eyes that make up most of her visage. The plot and the acting are rudimentary, it's got a great secret hideaway and the star is still exactly that. I'm not entirely sure the filming is all entirely original - some scenes seemed oddly reminiscent of others in the series, but it passes away an hour without any serious cerebral effort required.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I am not about to sit through this again to calculate the number of minutes in this hour long film that is sure silence. It was difficult enough once, and I still haven't figured out what the plot was trying to be, just a bunch of good guys and bad guys fighting it out and no real motive. Dares a half-breed, half a patchy, half wife, played by Edward Dwyer with a ridiculous accent since he's pretending to be Mexican. The dialogue sounds like it came from a Dick and Jane first grade primer, and the extended action sequences get very boring after a while. At one point, one of the characters rides through a small Lake and it actually appears like he is actually riding a fish, not a horse by the way he is moving up and down (and side to side). Horses gallop, and fish flop, and if that is a metaphor for the outcome of this film, then that was very appropriate.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "John Tobin" (John Wayne) is on the hunt of the killer of his father (Earl Dwire), who kidnaps a young woman (Sheila Terry). Now, John has to save the young woman, while trying to prove he is not a member of the outlaw's gang to the bumbling sheriff, who also accuses him for killing the girl's father.

    This is one of the worst 1930's movies I've seen. I spent more time looking away from my computer screen than watching the actual movie.

    The first problem is the length of the film. It completely rushed the story, which was hard to follow at times. It also gave no chance of the characters to develop.

    Everybody in the cast seemed to have been forced together, and did not get the chance to develop any chemistry.

    A good chunk of this movie deals with "Tobin" chasing the villain. In fact, a good chunk of the entire 50 minutes was a horse chase. The villain was horrible, and I did not feel any hate toward him. I didn't even believe his accent.

    Surprisingly, Wayne was not good in this movie. I believe this was early in his career, and it showed. He was not leading man material in this one. He didn't even have chemistry with any of the other performers.

    Due to the age of this film, the audio was not great. It made the dialog nearly impossible to hear at times. There were times that you couldn't understand anything that was said. You also had the source of the sound go to almost a whisper as it moved away from the microphone.

    If you are a John Wayne fan, check this out if you see it on the Westerns channel, but only if there is nothing else on.
  • Oh, there are many worse Wayne movies. This movie is edited poorly but it has a campy element that makes watching it enjoyable. The villain is an Anglo actor who sports ridiculous Mexican clothes and affects an over-the-top Mexican accent which is hilarious. The girl is dressed like a Jean Harlow wannabe, this is 1934 after all. At least the location shots are beautiful and enjoyable.

    Watch it and laugh. Don't expect a serious western, but rather a lightweight and superficial story with poor acting but occasional flashes of camp humor. Wayne is almost ludicrously young and handsome and one can see his acting ability blossomed years after this regrettable venture.