"Riders of the Santa Fe" was the third of six "B" westerns starring Rod Cameron released during the 1944-45 season.
The story is that old "B" western staple...who owns the water rights on the range? Town Boss Tom Benner (George Douglas) installs saloon buffoon Bull's Eye Johnson (Fuzzy Knight) as town mayor to suit his own evil purposes. But with a tip of the hat to "Destry Rides Again" (1939), Bull's Eye sends for Matt Conway (Cameron) to become Town Marshal. Conway as it turns out, does not carry a gun and plans to enforce the law peacefully.
Cattleman Larry Anderson (Eddie Dew) is moving a herd of cattle and learns that Benner owns the local water rights and plans to overcharge him to water his stock. Of course Marshal Conway is caught in the middle trying to enforce the law on one hand while having an eye for Anderson's sister Carla (Jennifer Holt) on the other. The only cattle that we see is courtesy of (no pun intended), stock footage.
The whole thing ends up in a huge gunfight culminating with a large prairie fire set by the baddies.
As happened frequently in "B" westerns, the title of the film has little or nothing to do with the story. This film is a case in point. Unless I missed it, the words "Santa Fe" are not even mentioned. In fact the story takes place in Kansas.
Also in the cast are Ray Whitley and the Bar 6 Cowboys who provide the musical interludes with Whitley playing Deputy Hank and Lane Chandler, Earle Hodgins and Dick Alexander as Douglas' henchmen. It should be noted that Hodgins, who usually played fast talking con men, gets to play an out and out bad guy for a change. He even gets to gun one poor soul in the back.
Rod Cameron's stay in "B" westerns was short lived. Following this series, he went on to star in "A" features and had a long career riding the range for various studios.
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