6 May 2006 | krorie
Above average Rocky Lane shoot 'em up, missing Nugget Clark
A Republic Saturday matinée cowboy show always delivered plenty of action with amazing stunt work from the likes of Yakima Canutt. A Republic Allan Rocky Lane oater also delivered plenty of excitement and adventure with usually a good story to wrap it all up for youngsters of all ages. "Trail of Kit Carson," except for the generic title, is one of the best of the early Rocky Lane films before he did the Red Ryder series. Following the success of the Red Ryder flicks, Rocky teamed with veteran actor Eddy Waller, who played the old-timer Nugget Clark, to do one of the finest series of westerns to hit the big screen. Rocky's movies were almost as popular as the bigger budget features of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Tim Holt. Though the Nugget Clark character had not yet been created when "Trail of Kit Carson" was produced, Tom London is nearly as colorful as the old miner, John Benton.
The story involves a mystery, not for the audience who almost from the beginning knows who the bad guys are, but for Rocky and his friends. Rocky plays not only the cowboy hero of the movie but also makes a good detective putting together clues that will lead him to the perpetrators of the dastardly deeds.
Bill Harmon (Rocky) arrives in town seeking his pal and partner, Dave MacRoy, after receiving a letter about a new strike discovered in his mine. Benton (London) explains to Rocky that Dave has committed suicide, that there could be no strike because Dave sold his mine to a community leader, Doc Ryan (Roy Barcroft). Rocky uncovers evidence to the contrary, indicating murder. He meets with Sheriff 'Buffalo' Bailey who presents the evidence of the suicide, including a report from Gunsmith 'Trigger' Chandler (Kenne Duncan) matching the bullet in the body with the bullet from Dave's own gun. Rocky is still skeptical but can convince no one in town, not even Benton. Then Benton's good-looking daughter, Joan (Helen Talbot), enters the picture. Rocky is challenged and insulted by one of Doc and Trigger's henchmen in front of Joan. Being a gentleman, Rock bides his time until Joan is gone. He then tracks down the henchman, 'Red' Snyder. During the confrontation between Rocky and Red, a shootout takes place which leads to Rocky being framed and jailed. While in jail, Rocky learns that Benton has been wounded during a gambling squabble and that Doc is to operate on him. To save Benton's life and prove his innocence, Rocky escapes jail with the unwilling assistance of the sheriff's little girl, Peggy (Twinkle Watts). The action-filled conclusion has Rocky going after Doc and Trigger while being chased by the sheriff and his posse.
The supporting cast is a treat to behold. The consummate villain for the B western, Roy Barcroft, is at the height of his orneriness, as always, a snake in respectable clothing. Kenne Duncan is not only a slimy creep, but even sports a funky hairdo, making him appear almost as a punk rocker before his time. Helen Talbot's budding romance with Rocky sparkles. Their few scenes together show an element of playfulness between the sexes often missing in the B western.
Rocky is as always the steadfast cowboy with high morals. He doesn't even lie to protect himself when he is doing a ballistics test on the bullets used in the killings. The script gives Rocky some good lines. For example, when talking about Trigger Chandler, Rocky comments, "He would even kill his own mother...if he hasn't already done it."
Rocky Lane fans, and they are legion, won't be disappointed by "Trail of Kit Carson." Others who like good westerns should also enjoy this Rocky Lane outing. Oh, there's no mention of Kit Carson in the film. This viewer couldn't even find his trail.