2 October 2013 | MartinHafer
Better than I'd expected, though I hated the Billy the Kid angle.
I've already seen a couple other Buster Crabbe westerns and was not at all impressed. While "Western Cyclone" is not a great film, it was a lot better than I expected.
Crabbe plays Billy the Kid. Now this version of Billy has no similarity to the real character--and, oddly, quite a few western stars (such as Roy Rogers) played nice-guy versions of genuinely evil real-life bandits. So, despite all the nice things Billy does in this one, this is in no way related to the career of William Bonny--the real Billy the Kid.
The film begins with Billy staging a FAKE holdup of the stagecoach and then rescuing a woman when the plan goes awry. It seems Billy wanted to convince the Senator aboard the coach that the west was lawless and needed lawmen to keep order!!! Again, this is an insane version of Billy---no relationship with the real thing! In the midst of Billy's campaign is another one but which is run by an unknown baddie (it turns out to be Glenn Strange*). It seems the baddie is orchestrating a lot of real crimes in order to make the Governor look bad so that they can have a recall election and he can have himself made governor. However, after this unknown stranger kills someone and frames Billy for it, the guy leaves a clue behind--a shell which bears the marks of a gun with a broken trigger. Can Billy and Fuzzy get to the bottom of this, prove their innocence, help the governor avoid a recall AND get the girl?
I am no great expert on guns, but the main plot point is that bullet casings were left behind by the killer. However, this really makes no sense, as with an old revolver, the casing is NOT ejected when you fire and the killer would never just toss it on the ground, since this would indicate that there was a shooter other than Billy. But, despite this, a few other plot holes and the notion of making Bill the Kid a hero, the film is entertaining. Much of it is because Al 'Fuzzy' St. John is a wonderful sidekick in this one. Also, the film benefits from not having lots of singing like other B-westerns of the day. Fun to watch--just make sure your brain doesn't think too much as you watch!
*By the way, Strange is most famous for playing Frankenstein in the later Universal monster films--such as "Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein". Also, St. John originally was the villain in many of Fatty Arbuckle's comedies. It didn't hurt his chances getting the job since he was Arbuckle's nephew!