23 February 2006 | krorie
From Hoppy's early career, this one's a winner all the way
This is a superior B westerns from the early career of cowboy superstar William Boyd, AKA Hopalong Cassidy. "The Eagle's Brood" was released in 1935. By the early 1950's when I was growing up, Hoppy had become an institution. As a child I often wore a Hoppy hat, a Hoppy neckerchief with a steer's head as a clasp, black cowboy clothes, a Hoppy holster and toy guns (with steer heads on the handles), and a pair of Hoppy boots. For some odd reason, I had a Roy Rogers lunch box for school. Maybe Hoppy's merchandising agent unintentionally left that money maker off his list. Hoppy who was twenty years older by 1955 than he had been in his first Hopalong Cassidy films, still looked the same. How did he do that?
"The Eagle's Brood" has a fairly simple story. Yet it is so well-written and directed that it holds the viewer's attention all the way. This early entry came out before the era of the singing cowboys. So there's no music to slow down the action. By 1935 background music was being used to enhance the action. In the first talky westerns, no music was used because the movie moguls didn't think the audience would accept hearing an orchestra playing in the middle of a wild chase or fight. Yet a live orchestra (or a piano player) was used during the silent years to increase the impact of the action taking place on the screen.
This outing, Hoppy and his sidekick Johnny (Jimmy Ellison) are out to rescue a Mexican lad hid out by Delores, a friend of El Toro, the boy's grandfather, who just happens to be a notorious outlaw, played with gusto by silent film star William Farnum. The boy witnessed the murder of his parents. Thus the ringleader, Big Henry (Addison Richards), is out to silence the lad permanently if he and his gang can find the hideout. Delores is shot by Big Henry when she refuses to divulge the hiding place. Hoppy and Johnny step in leading to a wild shootout in the hills.
Gabby Hayes was still just plain George when he appeared in "The Eagle's Brood," playing sort of a good bad guy as a bar tending lackey to Big Henry. He goes by the moniker Spike. Fortunately he decided in later films to use the name Gabby. Somehow Spike Hayes just doesn't sound right.
The early Hoppy had a romantic streak. When he meets a soiled dove named Dolly, Delores' friend, he flirts with her using the line, "You're a cute little trick," and buys her not one but two drinks while he quenches his thirst with sarsaparilla.