29 May 2006 | stevehaynie
Old friends, new beginning.
If someone has never seen a Three Mesquiteers adventure then Under Texas Skies would be as good a place to start as any. It is in no way the best of the run, but it is the starting point of a new cast of characters. The characters themselves are not new, but the group of actors playing the trio is new. In this film Robert Livingston returns as Stony Brooke after John Wayne played the role in eight movies. Livingston is joined by Bob Steele as Tuscon Smith and Rufe Davis as Lullaby Joslin. The return of Tuscon and Lullaby, previously played by Crash Corrigan and Max Terhune, is shown as a fresh start for the characters. Stony and Tuscon know each other from childhood. Lullaby is new to town, and only recognizes Stony. While the bond between Stony and Tuscon is very well established, Lullaby serves little purpose other than comedy and one important plot twist. There is no real team shown, but the foundation is built for future adventures.
When Tuscon is framed for the murder of Stony's father, Stony turns against his old friend. For much of the movie Tuscon remains on the lam, a situation common to many Bob Steele roles. The person who framed Tuscon is Blackton, the deputy who uses his position as a law man to cover for his evil plans. Local ranchers are aware that something must be done, but rallying them for help is hard to do. The suspense in this movie is upheld by the necessity of Tuscon clearing his name and being able to expose Blackton and his gang. Lullaby is put to work to help Stony get a message to the ranchers, but of course Lullaby unwittingly lets the bad guys know what is going on. This leads to a climax that is worthy of the Three Mesquiteers series.
Blackton is played by Henry Brandon who did not look like a typical western villain. He would have been much better as well dressed lawyer. Having made his mark as Fu Manchu in the serial Drums of Fu Manchu, anything he did afterward would be pale by comparison anyway.