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.
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