22 February 2006 | stevehaynie
Who says a bandit is worthless?
Westward Ho is thin on plot and heavy on action. A group of bank robbers has gotten too successful, so the Bankers' Association finally issues posters that say, "$5,000 REWARD FOR A DEAD BANDIT NOT ONE CENT FOR A LIVE ONE." This makes the situation too hot for the outlaws until they come up with a way to turn the tables toward their own favor again. They just trick someone to take a hold-up note to the bank and shoot him on the spot to collect the $5,000 reward money every time.
Poor Wayne Henderson is the first person to be used by the outlaws, and this causes his brother Jimmy to seek revenge against the Bankers' Association for instituting their reckless policy. The next intended victim of the outlaws is none other than Lullaby Joslin of the Three Mesquiteers. He narrowly escapes being killed on the spot in the bank, so the crooks form a lynch mob to quickly silence Lullaby for fear of their plot to cheat the banks being discovered. When Stony and Tuscon help Lullaby escape the noose they become branded as the gang of outlaws that has been robbing the banks. For the rest of the movie they have to discover who the real gang and its leaders are while they have to stay clear of the sheriff and his posse.
At the beginning of Westward Ho we see Mrs. Healey (Evelyn Brent) and Rick West (Donald Curtis) as the leaders of the gang discuss how things have gotten too hot to continue more robberies. It just happens that Healey is the head of the Bankers' Association and unable to contain the bankers anymore. That is why they offered the reward for dead bandits. Healey and West come up with the plan to use the reward offered by the Bankers' Association as a way to drain the banks of more money. Westerns with female villains are rare, and in this case Evelyn Brent perfectly plays the part of Mrs. Healey as cold and evil.
Rufe Davis should have made more westerns. Filling Max Terhune's shoes as Lullaby Joslin was a big job, but Davis did it! Terhune, along with Ray Corrigan, left Republic and the Mesquiteers series to form the Range Busters at Monogram a couple of years before Westward Ho was made. Rufe Davis' comedy was an excellent replacement for Terhune and his ventriloquist dummy, Elmer.
Along with a female villain, Westward Ho is different in at least two other ways. First, Jimmy's sister, Anne, is present throughout the movie, but there is no romance angle. Usually some member of almost every trio shows an interest in the ubiquitous young girl that appeared in every B western. Second, there is no mention of cattle anywhere in this cowboy movie. That in itself is not so odd, but often there is a group of cattlemen in a B western. In this case it is a group of bankers although they are never seen. Westward Ho is focused on the Mesquiteers and the outlaw gang; it is exclusively good guys versus bad guys.