18 October 2005 | krorie
One of the last of The Three Mesquiteers series and a good one
One of the most popular cowboy series of them all was Republic's Three Mesquiteers. Even the Duke himself was a Mesquiteer at one time. There were 51 films with various combinations of cowboy stars making up the trio. Based on a series of books by William Colt MacDonald which in turn were inspired by Alexander Dumas' "Three Musketeers," in its last incarnation the trio consisted of Tom Tyler as Stony Brooke, the tall handsome man on a white horse who sometimes provided the love interest, but in "Thundering Trails" his brother Johnny Brooke (John James) does the romancing, Bob Steele as Tucson Smith, a role he had played in other Three Mesquiteers combinations, was the pint-sized whirlwind who could fight like no other cowboy, and Jimmie Dodd as Lullaby Joslin, the comic of the three. And in "Thundering Trails" he does actually deliver some chuckles. Today Bob Steele is most remembered as Lash Canino, a mobster, in Bogie's "The Big Sleep" and as Trooper Duffy on F TROOP. Dodd is best remembered today as one of the hosts of The Mickey Mouse Club. Tyler's career was limited because of health problems but some might remember seeing him as The Phantom.
"Thundering Trails" has a script that is somewhat complicated for youngsters but fun for grown-ups. It seems that the Texas Rangers are being disbanded following the Civil War and in their place each county in Texas is to provide for its own defense against outlaws. The Three Mesquiteers are Rangers who are determined to restore that illustrious peacekeeping force to its former status. Stony's brother has other ideas. He pitches in with a group of county lawmen who charge for protection. It turns out that these lawmen are led by a corrupt judge who is determined to make a small fortune through this extortion. The Three Mesquiteers are framed when a prominent rancher is murdered. Stony's brother is in love with the rancher's daughter and is determined to bring the killers to justice. There is plenty of action and twists and turns along the way to make for an entertaining outing for the Three Mesquiteers. As with the original Three Musketeers, it's one for all and all for one. There is one scene where Lullaby does a song in black face so he won't be recognized that may be offensive to some viewers today. It was still an acceptable form of entertainment when "Thundering Trails" was produced.
The scene stealer in "Thundering Trails" is a crow named Eight Ball. There is a very funny part in the jail house when Eight Ball, who belongs to the jailer, assists in breaking the Three Mesquiteers out. Lullaby bribes him with half a sandwich. The last line in the movie also belongs to Eight Ball and it's a killer. I'm surprised that Eight Ball didn't get his own series.