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  • Spuzzlightyear17 March 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    A gang of cowboys attempt to rob a stage of its loot. Problem is, someone has beaten them to it! Thus begins Rogue on the Range, a terribly convoluted Western that adds hilarity onto preposterous undertakings. You see, the reason why the cowboy, Dan Doran robbed it first, is to get DELIBRATELY put in jail, that way he can infiltrate the gang who tried to rob the stage in the first place? After being put in jail, he busts out and THAT impresses the gang, who hire him on the spot when he comes back! Oh, did I not mention he was a G-Man? As you can probably tell, this thing is highly ridiculous and improbable. Why would someone go through so much trouble? It almost feels like too much trouble slagging through this.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There are about four or five plots that seem to repeat themselves again and again in westerns. When I see these same plots, I chalk it up to sloppy writing--or perhaps, more accurately, lazy writing. While these might have been really good story ideas once upon a time, after a while they have become clichés--bad clichés. One example is the evil ranch boss who wants EVERYBODY'S land and uses his hired goons to get it. Another example is the 'bad girl' who usually is a saloon keeper but has a heart of gold. Here in "Rogue of the Range" we have the third clichéd idea--the good guy who poses as a bad guy to get arrested and imprisoned in order to get in good with a crook already incarcerated. Usually this is done in order to either find out where the loot is hidden or to find out who 'Mr. Big' is or to enable them to infiltrate or locate a gang of baddies. So, when I saw Johnny Mack Brown supposedly turn bad (a heroic B-western star going bad?!?!?), I KNEW immediately that it was because he was a federal agent trying to find out SOMETHING from a baddie in prison. And, not surprisingly, that's exactly what happened...and the film, as a result, bored me to death. While the acting was fine and the film was harmless, due to its plot it is utterly disposable. You could do a lot better.
  • Johnny Mack Brown robs a stage coach but is quickly caught and is sent to prison. He escapes and hooks up with a gang that has been plowing the same field more successfully, due to inside information on when big money shipments are coming through.

    It's a handsomely directed movie starring the good-looking Alabaman. After being a college gridiron star, he went to Metro in 1926 and was moderately successful, but they let his contract lapse in 1934. He moved easily into well-received B westerns, where he prospered until 1952, with a couple of appearances in Geezer Westerns in the mid-1960s.

    This one is well-shot by under-rated B cameraman Jack Greenhalgh -- there are a nice variety of high shots in the riding sequence that begins the movie, and the prison sequence has Germanic, early Noir lighting -- and director S. Roy Luby demonstrates that editors make very efficient directors. It's from producer A.W. Hackel, who also produced the Bob Steele westerns, and appears to be much more expensively done, befitting Brown's greater stardom.

    The script by Earle Snell is a bit underwritten in the romantic subplot department, but on the plus side, fans of silent comedy will appreciate an uncredited bit by Max Davidson as a peddler.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Rogue Of The Range shows you that some good film ideas can come from strange places. Meaning that Rogue Of The Range is the strange place.

    The same scenario was used 13 years later for the classic James Cagney film White Heat. If you remember it was FBI man Edmond O'Brien's job to go into prison and get close to Cagney to find out who was the guy masterminding the jobs that Cagney's gang pulled.

    Which is exactly what 'government' man Johnny Mack Brown's mission is in Rogue Of The Range. Brown pulls a job that the gang has earmarked which gives him his criminal credentials and later he goes to prison and busts out with George Ball who is the Cagney character. Of course Brown fulfills his mission, but hardly with the same spectacular results that White Heat's climax had.

    There's also a little romance with Lois January and the saving of little Nell the gospel singer played by Phyllis Hume from marriage to the Snidely Whiplash mastermind Stephen Chase.

    Strictly for B western fans and particularly fans of Johnny Mack Brown who is always a good cowboy hero.