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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Buck Jones films on Encore Westerns seem to be scarcer than hen's teeth so I was surprised to see this one show up the other day. That seems to play into the fact that there are no other reviews for the picture here as I write this as well. The sound of the title is kind of cool but there's no Lonely Valley to speak of unless you want to consider the small town of Ardmore where the story takes place.

    The hook for the story line is one I don't think I've seen before. Steve Hanson (Jones) and government agent Jim Lynch (Harvey Clark) are both presumed to be dead after Jake Wagner's (Walter Miller) henchmen report back to the boss that they've been done in. Continuing their investigation into a phony bill of sale on the Lazy J Ranch, Hanson and Lynch discover a secret tunnel underneath a church that leads to Wagner's office, and the effort to expose the villain is well under way.

    Frequent Buck Jones co-star Muriel Evans is on hand here as the female lead and romantic interest Retta Lowery, while younger brother Sonny (Richard Holland) is in the wrong place at the wrong time to catch a bullet when he inadvertently calls out to Buck when Wagner shows up at the Lazy J. Generally you won't have any musical numbers in a Buck Jones Western, but this one offers up 'Singin' Swingin' Cowboy' by one of the ranch hands that's kind of plopped into the story at one point as a mid-picture diversion.

    There's an interesting element at the Lazy J homestead that would have appeared more appropriate in an era horror or mystery flick that kind of surprised me. There was a sliding wall in the living room that hid a secret room behind it, but the wall went up and down instead of sideways! I thought that was rather novel, and proved once again that no matter how many hundreds of Westerns one might have seen, there's a good chance that the next one might offer something new.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Buck Jones (Steve son), Muriel Evans (Rena Lowrey), Harvey Clark (Jim Lynch), Walter Miller (Jake Wagner), Lee Phelps (Peter Starr), Ted Adams (Slim), and Dickle Howard, Ezra Paulette, Matty Fain, Grace Goodall, Virginia Dabacy, and "Silver".

    Director.. RAY TAYLOR. Screenplay: Frances Gulhaim. Based on a novel by Forrest Brown. Photography: Allen Thompson, John Hickson. Producer: Buck Jones.

    Copyright 26 October 1937 by Universal Pictures Co., Inc. New York opening at the Central: December 1937. U.S. release: 14 November 1937. 59 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: Through forgery, land-grabbers pick up deemed estates.

    COMMENT: Although produced by (and starring) Buck Jones, this western is not as highly inventive as some of his other pictures.

    Nevetheless, this film does have some unusual features. For example, a church figures largely in the plot, whilst organ music is appropriately played over the climax. In addition, an occasionally fluid camera betrays a surprising degree of imaginative thinking from that usually stolid director, Ray Taylor. It is most certainly not at all characteristic. Doubtless this sort of liberation from the usual kiddies' matinée conventions, was inspired by producer/star Buck Jones.

    Also much in evidence is the low-key photography that Jones seems to revel in and that is certainly part and parcel of his "style". This said, however, it must be stated that, on the whole, the direction of this film is still a bit below par.

    All told, the acting is not particularly distinguished -- not even from Jones himself. And as for the story itself, it's strictly kiddies' matinée cornball.