User Reviews (12)

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  • ejrjr2 April 2007
    The story has some unusual twists including Kramer, a white-collar criminal who plots to exploit a feud between cattlehands and cattlemen plus fleece cattlemen of money through a dummy Cattlemen's Protection Association.

    George O'Brien plays Geoffrey Carter, a Hollywood cowboy shooting a western film at Lone Pine, CA. He just happens to rescue Joyce, a cattlewoman's daughter from the city gangsters and falls for her. Then he goes to work for her mother as an anonymous cattlehand.

    The most interesting plot element is the use of a single-engine, dual wing biplane to frighten cattle and then a subsequent air dual with an aircraft from Hollywood flown by Carter's friend.

    Final roundup of the criminals has a nice twist but the ending is standard Hollywood schmaltz. There are some holes in the story never resolved. But nothing out the ordinary for a 1937 RKO Radio Picture.

    George O'Brien is adequate but the supporting cast never have opportunities to rise above predictable or pedestrian, which is simply a fault of the script. However, this is a 64 minute, low-budget B-western, so there was little time or reason to worry about character development. This is a rare film and not many prints exist either as Hollywood Cowboy or Wings Over Wyoming. Showcase Media of Studio City California 91604 has one, good, complete 16mm dupe print.
  • This is not a great movie but it is a hoot. I mean where else can you see gangsters coming from the big city using aircraft to bomb their prey and disrupt a cattle drive. The accuracy of those ex-World War I pilots was uncanny and the secret ability of a hand grenade to blow up a dam should be exploited for modern day ordnance specialists who can only dream of such power in a small package. And all these gangsters wanted was a penny a pound to "protect" cattle from threat of non-delivery – very reasonable I would think.

    Silent film star George O'Brien is effective as the hero and enjoyable to watch in his role. His biography is most interesting and worthy of your time. Charles Middleton is excellent as the heavy but I still prefer him as Ming the Merciless in the Flash Gordon serials. Maude Eburne turns in another great character actor performance.

    The film quality of the version "Wings Over Wyoming" that I just saw on TCM was a bit grainy but the joy at watching such a unique B movie more than compensated. Some of the aviation sequences were likely lifted from other filming but what the heck, who cares. Better than most B Westerns and worth watching because it is so different.
  • MartinHafer26 November 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    Although the events setting the stage for the plot are unusual, once this newness wears off you'll probably realize that this is a pretty standard B-movie Western. It's a decent time-passer, but not much else.

    George O'Brien plays a cowboy movie star on location in Wyoming. While he's finishing a film, the local ranchers are being victimized by mobsters (in Wyoming?!) who are convincing everyone that it's the work of strikers. In return, the mobsters offer "protection" to the ranchers to get their cattle to market unharmed. Soon after George's friend 'Shakespeare' arrives (Joe Caits), the two are pulled into the battle between mobsters and ranchers--none of which know George is a movie star (apparently none of them ever went to a movie). Not surprisingly, by the end of the film, the baddies are captured by O'Brien and he gets the girl--exactly like you'd see in any other B-Western of the time.

    No real surprises here--just a fairly typical baddies in the contemporary West getting theirs from the hero. Well made and watchable but not a film to rush to see.
  • "Hollywood Cowboy," as this film is now known, has a special charm about it because it stands on a fairly unusual platform for being, which is that the characters are assembled here owing to western movie making, of all things. This is a contemporary western, that is to say the wild west comes alive in the year of roughly 1937, and plenty of cars and even airplanes are on hand. As with many George O'Brien B-westerns, there is a more gentle air about this movie than many of its brethren, with the gun play and horse-mounted action hovering at a fair minimum. George O'Brien does a good job of portraying his part with subtle humor throughout, and it is a pleasure to have a fairly well-known actress of the era (Cecilia Parker) play the leading lady. In general, however, the acting in the film is only standard and there is little evidence of sets or cinematography beyond the ordinary. The final defining scene was surprising for B-westerns, it must be granted, but not really impressively staged beyond expectations. So all in all, if you have time to take a look at a fairly good B-western built on an unusual foundation and containing a different kind of final roundup, go ahead and take a look.
  • An odd oater, with little hard riding and no fast shooting or flying fists. Instead combat takes place between two old airplanes, plus well-aimed lassoes. Hollywood cowboy Buck (O'Brien) shows his grit off-screen by helping ornery old rancher Violet Butler resist a shakedown by conniving city slicker Kramer (Middleton). Most of the storyline, however, is taken up with talk, maybe too much. But there is some good footage of the fabled Alabama Hills and scenic eastern Sierras. Also, some good bird's-eye footage of the maneuvering airplanes interspersed with process footage of the pilots against a backscreen. O'Brien's cowboy is more affable than tough, a rarity for matinée heroes, while Parker makes a comely blonde sweetie who'd make any guy stick around. Too bad the deliciously evil Middleton doesn't get more screen time, even though he's more subdued than usual. Anyway, it's definitely not a formula western, but has enough appealing novelties to satisfy an old matinée fan like me.

    A "6" on the Matinée Scale
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is now known as "Wings Over Wyoming", which in some ways is a better title because the film's most impressive scenes are those in which cattle are stampeded by a diving airplane – an original device if nothing else! Director Ewing Scott handles these action scenes with considerable flair, but both his screenplay, written in collaboration with Dan Jarrett, and his handling of it are less satisfactory. In fact, the many long dialogue exchanges without music or sound effects, remind us of independent westerns made at the very beginning of the sound recording era rather than major studio endeavors as late as this. Also the plot device in which the hero's rival is stupid enough to confuse a movie poster with the real thing doesn't ring true unless it's first established that the man is a moron or at the very least a bigot who hates movies with all the ignorance-is-bliss fervor of a revivalist preacher. Charles Middleton handles the role of the villain with his usual panache, Cecilia Parker makes a grand heroine, Maude Eburne is a wonderful foil, but Frank Milan is at best a rival of no account whatever.
  • In Hollywood Cowboy George O'Brien plays a B western star a whole lot like George O'Brien who after shooting a picture on location decides to take a camping trip with script writer and buddy Joe Caits. Though Caits is a city boy he'd like to get as far into the forest primeval as possible as he's ducking a subpoena.

    Somebody else has left the big city as well, one Charles Middleton whom we all know as Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon has also moved west and is establishing an old fashioned protection racket involving cattle rustling. He tries to move in on owner Maude Eburne, but she's a tough old bird.

    O'Brien gets involved when he saves Eburne's niece Cecilia Parker from some of Middleton's men and O'Brien also starts some moving in on his own.

    Nothing too terribly complex about the part, a story that's been unaccountable times in Hollywood. But O'Brien does this one with tongue firmly in cheek. It's almost like he was setting a mold for James Garner to follow in the future.

    I think some non-western fans will like this one.
  • Hollywood COWBOY George O'Brien does battle with carpetbagging gangsters from the city who are trying to set up a protection racket in Wyoming. Can O'Brien beat the gangsters (led by "Ming the Merciless", Charles Middleton) with their airplanes and tommy-guns, with just a six-shooter and a sidekick named Shakespare trying to avoid a divorce subpoena?

    OK, the plot here, with the odd combination of the current day and old fashioned western action, is more than passing strange, but it does have the advantage of being something different. George O'Brien (the lead in F.W. Murnau's Sunrise and Michael Curtiz's Noah's Arc) also is several acting leagues above the average western star. As a result, the film is a bit better than average for a B, particularly as O'Brien does not take his role particularly seriously, and always seems about to burst out laughing at the absurdity of it all. What might be a problem for the B western fan is that there is no pleasant western music (sorry Autey, Rogers and Ritter fans), nor is there a lot of typical western action (sorry Tom Mix fans). Instead, the better parts of the movie are played for laughs, and the action scenes appear to have been lifted from more expensive dramas.

    The result is OK, with almost a Wild Wild West feel, but it is a dead end as far as a genre film is concerned. (How can you do a series of films, when the lead characters seem invested in the absurdity of the whole enterprise?) It's probably not surprising that later westerns done by O'Brien for RKO are more serious.
  • "Hollywood Cowboy" is also listed at YouTube as "Wings over Wyoming," and you can find it under either or both titles. But if you look, I'm afraid you won't find a very good print.

    Which is a shame. I might have given it a 10 if I could have seen it in one piece, without the dark picture, without the breaks and pops and jumps, and without the hiss on the sound track.

    It has a crackerjack cast, starring the very good-looking and extremely capable George O'Brien, with the beautiful and also talented Cecilia Parker.

    Hers was another Hollywood story of a beautiful talent who apparently crossed the studio bosses, because she obviously had the looks and ability to have become a star.

    "Wings over Wyoming" is as good a title as "Hollywood Cowboy" because all those words figure in the story, well co-written by Dan Jarrett and director Ewing Scott, who was helped in the directing by the great George Sherman, who helmed many a Western movie.

    It is a slightly involved story, with bunches of characters including city-slicker gangsters trying to transfer their skulduggery to the ranges of, yes, Wyoming.

    There have been other efforts with a similar premise, but none better than this one.

    I highly recommend this, for cast, scenery (actually California), and good story. I just hope you find a better print.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    George O'Brien stars as B movie cowboy Jeffrey Carson in this B Western that was directed and co-written (with Dan Jarrett) by Ewing Scott. While shooting a movie in Wyoming, Carson gets involved in a range war ostensibly between wealthy ranchers and their cattle wranglers, before he later discovers that the conflict has been exacerbated by some gangsters (led by Charles Middleton) that had been run out of their city by the 'new administration'.

    After his movie wraps, Carson runs into a writer friend he calls Shakespeare (played by Joe Caits), who's on the run from a Hollywood scandal, and the two begin a hunting trip to lay low for a while. But after Carson rescues pretty Joyce Butler (Cecilia Parker) from some of Kramer's (Middleton) thugs, he and his friend end up working for her tough mom Violet (Maude Eburne), who has so far resisted paying the 1% graft to Kramer's Cattlemen Protection Agency. Naturally Carson is attracted to Joyce, as she is to him, especially per the contrast between the handsome actor and the less than manly rancher Courtney (Frank Milan) that had been courting her.

    Of course, Kramer and his thugs are no match for Carson, who employs a Hollywood stunt pilot (Lester Dorr) to force down the gangster's plane and pilot (Walter De Palma), who'd been terrorizing the other ranchers by driving off their herds and bombing water troughs and even a dam.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Hollywood COWBOY

    This was a pleasant little surprise, a clever and entertaining programmer western. It's a modern day western, a mix of roadsters and horse riding, familiar as the so called Autry Fantasy. In this case it seems that some actual logic entered into the existence of these two dimensions to exist side by side. The cattle ranchers who have to round up their cattle are saddle bound. Visitors from the outside world drive cars. But that's just one little witticism.

    The picture begins with a series of newspaper headlines to the effect that the city is cleaning up the gangsters who are running the protection racket. The head bad guy, played by Charles Middelton, none other than the immortal Ming the Merciless himself, decides to lay low for a while and take their racket to the countryside and inopportune the cattle ranchers. Their techniques are very up-to-date, using an airplane to buzz the herds and scatter them preventing their going to market. So there's that, somewhat typical western plot, somewhat updated.

    There's Maude Eberne playing the crusty old dame role to the hilt, resisting the evil entreaties of Charles Middleton. She has, wait for it, a beautiful daughter. Now throw in a joker in the form of George O'Brien, star of an enormous string of 30s cowboy pictures playing Jeffrey Carson, star of western movies. They are filming in the area and have just completed the last shot. A writer chum from New York (G. Gatsby Holmes (!)) running away from a divorce subpoena wants O'Brien to go camping for a few weeks and is in the habit of quoting Shakespeare. Yeah, this is a western where the Bard is liberally quoted. The henchman of the villain rough up the beautiful daughter and O'Brien saves the day while still in character. Known as a "meet cute". She doesn't realize that he's a movie star and for the rest of the film he has a wry smile on his face as people think he's just some sort of saddle bum named Buck. Satirizing class differences lends a farcical aspect to the story.

    O'Brien has a sidekick played by Dan Wolheim, for a programmer he was more than just good. He plays it as a rough precursor to Fred Mertz, grouchy. Buck and his two sidekicks have been taken on by Eburne as cowpunchers. Then we have the heat turned up on the farcical as the rancher's beautiful daughter is being courted by a New York scion to a Park Avenue fortune or whom she has no regard whatsoever. But he is total denial. Check out his name: Westbrook Courtney and he wears an ascot and drives the most beautiful Rolls Royce roadster. The comedy comes when he notices beautiful daughter and "Buck" getting together and he takes Buck aside to tell him, for his own good, to know his place because he's only going to be disappointed and hurt if he tries to romance a lady above his station. Of course George O'Brien finds the whole affaire amusing. As a movie star he outranks the Park Avenue scion.

    So Courtney is out in the RR roadster and come across a wanted poster with George O'Brien's picture on it. Of course its a prop left over from the movie he was filming. Courtney can't wait to tell everybody they have been harboring a criminal. Everybody, including the Cattleman's Association, gets hot under the collar that they've caught a dangerous criminal, so beautiful daughter goes to warn "Buck". More farce as she lets on that she knows his secret, which means to him that she's found out that he's a movie star and to her that he's a wanted criminal with a price on his head. Courtney calls the sheriff who arrives expecting to arrest a criminal. Now if this had been most any other programmer western, O'Brien would have spent the last twenty minutes of the film under suspicion as the bad guy in disguise, put in jail and breaking jail to capture the real bad guy and prove himself innocent. Here the sheriff walks in on this proto lynch mob and has a good laugh because he knows that he's the actor from the recently departed film company and the wanted poster is just a prop. In these pictures the Sheriff is usually a boob willing to believe the first superficial story placed before him.

    Of course it seems as though O'Brien doesn't take anything seriously because he's the only one aware that he's in a movie and can rise above it. He finally speaks up and asks if anyone's noticed that all of their cattle troubles began when Middleton, remember, he's the villain, arrived in town and began selling protection? How many westerns, how many movies in general, is it so obvious that all of their troubles are easily identified as being a villain's doing, yet they always focus on some innocent, usually the hero, because really without it there's maybe 20 minutes of story? And the crime is usually the murder of the heroine's father which she reacts to with mere petulance and anger. Hey, its just a programmer western! Significantly they were referred to as "juveniles in the day.

    Then it really begins to get good. O'Brien has a plan. He calls a movie stunt friend to fly out and when they commence their cattle round up the bad guys bring out their beat up biplane only to be trumped by this beautiful all silver Ryan ST monoplane. They force the biplane down and he tells them where the bad guys hide out is. They bomb it sending them scurrying and they are rounded up by the cattlemen and O'Brien and the beautiful daughter kiss and all's right with the world.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw this picture under the title "Wings Over Wyoming", opening with a nod to the Franklin Roosevelt administration as newspaper headlines demand that 'Rackets Must Go'! With the heat on, mobster Doc Kramer (Charles Middleton) moves his enterprise out West, forming a racket called the Cattlemens Protective Association. If you're a Western fan, you've probably run across that name dozens of times in dozens of Westerns, although in 1937 it probably wasn't as generic as modern day fans know it today.

    So as common as the theme is, the picture gives it a bit of a twist with the identity of the principal player. George O'Brien portrays a 'picture actor' who's just wrapped up filming a movie, and is persuaded by film writer G. Gatsby Holmes (Joe Caits) to take some time off to go camping and fishing. Holmes' real motivation is to dodge a high profile divorce case brought by his wife, and it doesn't take much to talk Jeff Carson (O'Brien) into taking some time off.

    Once that's all established, it's a fairly routine good guys/bad guys story, with O'Brien's character falling for pretty Joyce Butler (Cecilia Parker), daughter of shrewd cattle rancher Violet Butler (Maude Eburn). Old Vi isn't falling for the protection racket business, even if Kramer's going rate is a penny a pound. I don't know, that sounded pretty reasonable to me, except for the fact that it was a shakedown with no value offered in return. It might have been worth it though just to have the guy get lost.

    The finale was a fairly inventive affair, as one of Kramer's henchmen who was about to stampede the Butler herd one more time using an old fashioned biplane became engaged in sort of a duel with a single wing aircraft enlisted by the cattlemen. It looked cool, but I didn't really see the point of it all, because there was no way they could have made contact with each other without both planes crashing. The way the film writers got around that was for the villain to run out of gas, thereby being forced to land. Meanwhile, the sheriff's posse on the ground ran down the rest of the baddies and hogtied them into submission. The best part about that was seeing the sixty two year old Butler lady lasso one of the villains, as Carson demonstrated the old 'ride off into the sunset' with the younger Miss Joyce.