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  • This one is a very solid Randolph Scott Western. He plays Bat Masterson and goes to Liberal, Kansas to clean up the town. He becomes good friends with Robert Ryan who played a very, straight up leading man role. It was not until after this that Robert Ryan began playing much darker roles. In fact, in 1947 Randolph Scott made one other movie which was not a western and never made anything but westerns after that until he retired in 1962. This movie has good pacing and builds up to the climax steadily. I can't say any more as it would give away the plot. Be sure to see this one. 8/10
  • I am a fan of Randolph Scott Westerns. While some of them are amazingly clichéd (as are most Westerns of this era), his easy delivery and style really elevate the films to classic and near-classic status. While this film features yet another example of real life Western heroes being exploited after their death by Hollywood (in this case, Bat Masterson), the film works well due to him as well as excellent supporting characters. One is the always strong acting of Robert Ryan--an excellent actor who is sadly almost forgotten today. The other is the ubiquitous Gabby Hayes who has one of his best roles as the crusty and very colorful deputy. Here he is more enjoyable than in his many supporting roles for Roy Rogers and John Wayne--mostly because his part is better written and he's given more to do.

    The plot is pretty much the plot of half the Westerns ever made. There are some baddies who hire a bunch of thugs to run roughshod over the locals and it's up to a do-gooder (Scott) to restore the peace and kill off the villains. However, how the plot is executed is much better than average and due to this the film is still watchable fun. Just don't expect a whole lot of innovation or uniqueness--unless you want to see what might just be Gabby Hayes' best performance.
  • This is a fairly good B western that is upgraded almost to A by the presence of Randy Scott, Robert Ryan, and Anne Jeffreys, unusual in that it concentrates on developing new farming methods to make Kansas the breadbasket of America rather than the usual open range issue in the wars between cattlemen and nesters, although that too is touched on. Gabby Hayes was noted for his tall tales. He even had an early television show centered on that talent. Many times his tall tales were lame but this go around the stories are actually humorous. Helping out in this department is the emphasis on a supposedly mythical character Brandyhead Jones. This running joke has a good finale making it even more intriguing. Character actor Harry Harvey as the mayor is a good foil for Gabby.

    Randy Scott plays the historical Bat Masterson with emphasis on Bat's hidden talents as a writer. The real Bat Masterson ended his life as sports editor for the Morning Telegraph in New York City. Bat was also good with the six-shooter and was a lawman from time to time. Apart from this the rest of "Trail Street" is mainly fiction based loosely on fact here and there.

    Unlike the average B western, the title of this film relates directly to the story being told. Trail Street is the main street of Liberal, Kansas, the end of the trail for drovers who herd the cattle to the stockyards for shipment to Chicago. The farmers are threatening to turn Trail Street into Wheat Street. Maury (Steve Brodie) and his toady Carmody (Billy House) the saloon operators are determined to get the land for themselves and keep the new farming methods and new strain of wheat out of the hands of the farmers. House makes an excellent sycophant. Madge Meredith delivers the goods as well as the soiled dove with the heart of gold who also has a filial relationship with Allen (Robert Ryan), the local financier who tries to help the farmers. Meredith had a rather brief screen career. Too bad for she was a skilled actress if this movie is any indication of her abilities.

    A bit confusing is having two heroes rather than one. Bat and Allen work as a team. Both are pals to Billy (Gabby Hayes) which almost makes this into a Three Mesquiteers outing. Fans of Randolph Scott and Gabby Hayes should enjoy this oater. Others may get bored in places, though there is a good shoot out at the end which reminds the viewer of the later John Wayne saga Rio Bravo.
  • This is a modest ,unassuming traditional Western with a formulaic plot about opposition between ranchers and crop farmers around the town of Liberal ,Kansas .The story is essentially routine and features a number of the classic Western conflicts .There is the farmer versus the cattleman;there is the clash between cultivated land and "civilizing" tendencies on the one hand and the wilderness/frontier ethos on the other and what this represents ultimately is the opposition of two value systems -democratic and community values as set against rugged individualism .

    Randolph Scott plays legendary lawman Bat Masterton who rides into Liberal at behest of a land agent (Robert Ryan ) to help him sort out the bad guys who are the hard drinking ,brawling cattlemen .The two men quarrel but reunite to tackle the troublesome elements in the town .

    The script is clichéd but the action is propelled along with vigour by director Ray Enright and there are solid performances all round .In addition to rugged performances by the male leads there is comic relief supplied by George Gabby Hayes ,an oily villain nicely played by Steve Brodie and attractive contributions from Maggie Meredith as a prim and proper Easterner wooed by Ryan and Anne Jeffreys as a saloon singer As long as you do not place a premium on originality this is good sturdy entertainment for Western lovers
  • Except for two things, it's a fairly routine Scott Western, which means it's still better than most horse operas. First, I'm betting the drought resistant strain of wheat that keeps the farmers on the land is fact-based. Anyway, it's an interesting take on farming for a city boy like me, and is woven effectively into the plot. The second thing is Robert Ryan, one of my favorites. Now, I've seen him as a scary bad guy or a hard-looking good guy in a thousand movies. But I've never seen him as a nice guy until this movie. He's not only good, but nice too, and even gets the girl as a reward. It's Ryan as you've likely never seen him before (It's also early in his career, 1947).

    Scott's his usual strong-jawed self, and a persuasive Bat Masterson, while the one-and-only Gabby sports a beard that looks like it's eating his face. And check out the obscure ingénue Madge Meredith's (Susan) bio in IMDb. There's a reason why she's obscure. Then too, the 300-lb. Billy House makes a slimy bad guy and a can't miss six-gun target. I guess my only reservation is with Steve Brodie as the chief baddie. He doesn't have quite the gravitas to be a chief, which is likely why most of his career was as a henchman.

    Anyhow, it's a well-stocked horse opera with good action and a nicely worked-out script. For Scott fans, myself included, it's an enjoyable 90-minutes.
  • bkoganbing22 December 2005
    After cleaning up Dodge City (with a little help from Wyatt Earp) Bat Masterson goes to Liberal, Kansas where they've got a nice little range war going. Plus a rather interesting scheme of sharecropping.

    Randolph Scott is Bat Masterson and he's after villains Billy House and Steve Brodie who are driving homesteaders off their farms. The homesteaders they are driving off are in a sharecropping scheme financed by Robert Ryan. Seems as though he's staking the various farmers to a parcel of land to homestead for a percentage of profit from their crop. Ryan's about to lose his shirt as a result of all the shenanigans.

    As portrayed by Scott, Bat Masterson is a stand-up western hero who has a passion to go east and become a reporter which we all know he did later in life.

    Anne Jeffreys and Madge Meredith are involved in a romantic subplot involving Brodie and Ryan which is a little silly and does detract from the action. Anne Jeffreys does sing nice though.

    Of course Gabby Hayes as always provides the great comic relief.

    A good addition to the Randolph Scott collection of westerns. Also interesting because his later western films don't have him as wearing a hat as white as the one here.

    This review is dedicated to Kasey Hayes of the Professional Bull Riders who is a proud resident of Liberal, Kansas, a town with a great tradition whether Bat Masterson marshaled there or not.
  • Trail Street is directed by Ray Enright and adapted to screenplay by Norman Houston and Gene Lewis from the novel of the same name written by William Corcoran. It stars Randolph Scott, Robert Ryan, Anne Jeffreys, George Hayes, Madge Meredith and Steve Brodie. Music is by Paul Sawtell and cinematography by J. Roy Hunt.

    Bat Masterson (Scott) is called to the town of Liberal in Kansas to act as Marshal because a range war has erupted.

    It's the trail riders versus the farmers with Bat Masterson in the middle, perfect for Randy Scott then. Trail Street is a very honest Oater, sturdy of formula and played for genre compliant rewards. Clearly of no historical worth, mind, it's however a further reminder about one of the "names" that stand through the test of time from the Old West.The land war as a central plot device is always fascinating, for the two sides of the argument angle keeps things on the high heat. In the mix here comes corruption, romantic sub-plots (with 2 ladies of different social standings) and of course law and order as a force of nature.

    Ultimately it's good fun entertainment, the cast themselves seemingly enjoying their respective parts and working for this director. Hayes brings the froth, Brodie the slimy menace, and the girls are not just token fodder. Scott isn't in it as much as we would like, but once arriving in town he dominates with genre gracefulness in what was soon to become his total career pathway. While Ryan is wonderfully fresh faced and lights up his scenes with distinction.

    Enright has a good feel for character development, and when the pic begins to sag he pulls it back on track with a nifty action sequence. Rounding out the tech credits we have Hunt's (Crossfire) photography, which is spiffing and marries up smartly with the visual themes that Enright favours, while Sawtell keeps it safe and standard for aural pleasure. The ending is worth waiting for, with guns a toting and stunt men a falling from a high, and a very dark act is carried out to set us up for a boffo finale.

    This is hardly a must see or must have in your Westerns collection, but it's above average and has an unassuming feel that's most pleasing for the genre faithful. 7/10
  • I watched this film a few days ago and realised that the scene where Robert Ryan is given a glass of milk and the lady rancher elevates the horizontally hinged panel beside the table to reveal a field of waving wheat was an image that had stuck with me for over 55 years without me being able to remember the film's title. I saw this film in my local picture house as the featured film of a saturday matinee about 1960 -the image was indelible but the title and actors were a total blank -until a few days ago. Do cinematographers/directors realise they are creating a haunting image when they set up shots like this?The film itself is watchable but not a classic - apart from the image of the wheat
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Randolph Scott (Bat Masterson), Robert Ryan (Allen Harper), Anne Jeffreys (Ruby Stone), George "Gabby" Hayes (Bill Burns), Madge Meredith (Susan Pritchett), Steve Brodie (Logan Maury), Billy House (Carmody), Virginia Sale (Hannah), Harry Woods (Lance Larkin), Phil Warren (Slim), Harry Harvey (mayor), Jason Robards (Jason), Ernie Adams (Eben Bowen), Frank Mills (saloon patron), Jessie Arnold (Jason's wife), Stanley Andrews (Ferguson), Frank Austin, Joe Brockman, Roy Butler, Paul Dunn, Sam Lufkin, Dick Rush, Carl Wester (farmers), Guy Beach (Doc Evans), Elena Warren (Mrs Brown), Larry McGrath, Billy Vincent, Glenn McCarthy, Howard McCrorie (henchmen), Forrest Taylor (Dave), David Olson, Eugene Persson (boys), Sarah Padden (Mrs Ferguson), Al Murphy (dealer), Frank McGlynn (Tim McKeon), Si Jenks (Charlie Thorne), Betty Hill (dance hall girl), Lew Harvey (saloon gunman), Kit Guard (drunk), Chris Willow Bird (Indian), Warren Jackson.

    Narrated by Ray Collins.

    Director: RAY ENRIGHT. Screenplay: Norman Houston, Gene Lewis. Based on the 1937 novel Golden Horizon by William Corcoran. Photography: J. Roy Hunt. Film editor: Lyle Boyer. Art directors: Albert S. D'Agostino and Ralph Berger. Set decorators: Darrell Silvera and John Sturtevant. Costumes designed by Adele Balkan. Music: Paul Sawtell. Songs: "You May Not Remember" (Jeffreys) by Ben Oakland, George Jessel; "She's Not the Only Pebble on the Beach" (Jeffreys) by Stanley Carter and Harry Braisted. Montage editor: Harold Palmer. Music director: Constantin Bakaleinikoff. Special effects: Russell A. Cully. Assistant director: Grayson Rogers. Sound recording: Jean L. Speak, Terry Kellum. RCA Sound System. Producer: Nat Holt. Executive producer: Jack J. Gross.

    Copyright 15 March 1947 by RKO-Radio Pictures, Inc. New York opening at the Palace: 9 April 1947. U.S. release: 19 February 1947. U.K. release: 15 December 1947. Australian release: 24 July 1947. 7,730 feet. 84 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: Bat Masterson tames Liberal, Kansas.

    NOTES: Number three of RKO's top profit-makers for 1947. (Crossfire held down the number one spot, followed by The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer).

    COMMENT: A formula western, but a very entertaining one. All the standard ingredients are here, including the late-arriving peace officer (a memorable portrait by Randolph Scott), the restless heroine (played by the charming Madge Meredith), the go-getting hero who is unjustly accused of murder (Robert Ryan in his post-war debut), the warm-hearted saloon girl (the delightful Anne Jeffreys), the sleazy villain (marvelous Billy House), and last (but fortunately least), the comic relief (long-winded "Gabby" Hayes).

    These familiar trappings are given a terrific boost in Trail Street by high production values and superlative technical credits (in which the attractive camera-work, the richly appointed sets and the wonderfully in-period music score really stand out).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

    TRAIL STREET is an average western that distinguishes itself by possibly being the inspiration for the highly praised Howard Hawks-John Wayne extravaganza RIO BRAVO (1959). There are many close plot similarities between the two films, and several characters are nearly identical as well. A greedy land grabbing villain is running all the farmers off their homesteads so that he can build a cattle empire in Kansas. Randolph Scott plays the heavily outnumbered marshal Bat Masterson, trying to hold the leader of a "regulator" gang in jail for trial. Helping him is shotgun-wielding deputy Gabby Hayes. Substitute John Wayne for Scott, Walter Brennan for Hayes, add a teenage idol (Ricky Nelson), some color film, and you've got RIO BRAVO.

    TRAIL STREET is also notable for the casting of Robert Ryan in an against type good guy role. Overall, TRAIL STREET is worth a look for fans of the western genre, but others will probably lose interest.
  • ashew11 April 2006
    I am a huge Randolph Scott fan, so I was surprised and disappointed to find he is barely in this film! The movie really belongs to Robert Ryan, who is the hero in the jam, and the one embroiled in the love triangle. Good grief, Gabby Hayes gets more screen time than Mr. Scott in this movie!! For many viewers, that is not a problem, but I am from the Walter Brennan school of sidekicks, not Gabby Hayes...although I will say that his lines were a bit more humorous than annoying in this film than in many of his films with Randolph Scott and John Wayne.

    Personally, I found the movie very slow going, with a convoluted plot that was muddied even more by the unnecessary romance subplot. By convoluted, I don't mean impossible to understand or figure out, I just mean too messy for its own good.

    The direction is uninspired, and the two main bad guys have the most unsatisfying come-uppance at the end. The whole movie comes across as fake, unrealistic, and poorly filmed.

    Just so you don't think I can't find anything good here...

    On the plus side, Anne Jeffreys is very sexy in her all-too-brief parts of this film. Not sure if it is actually her singing, or someone else, but whoever it was had a very pretty voice. Ms. Jeffreys also had a couple of nice acting moments. The script needed either a lot more of her, or to remove her character altogether. As it was, her nice few moments weren't enough to help the film.

    Lastly, there is Mr. Scott. He looks fantastic in this film and is the no-nonsense lawman out to set things right. Some folks complain that his characters prior to 1950 were too goody-goody perfect, but that's never bothered me at all. I'll take him goody-goody pre-1950, or gritty and violent post-1950...either way, Randolph Scott was a real Western hero.

    It saddens me to have to say it, but I would have to recommend passing this film by, unless you are a die-hard fan...there are so many better Scott films out there that this one won't be missed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The town of Liberal, Kansas needs a fightin' marshal and they get one as soon as Bat Masterson (Randolph Scott) shows up, hired on to settle things down between the cattle faction and the farmers who find it tough to make a living in the parched mid-Western landscape. It's an often used formula for these era Westerns, this one kept afloat by the presence of Robert Ryan as a businessman who wants to see the farmers succeed, and George 'Gabby' Hayes in his usual stock in trade role as the teller of tall tales and all around deputy assistant to the new town marshal.

    There's also a couple of pretty gals on hand, Madge Meredith as the somewhat conflicted Susan Pritchard, who would like to improve her station in life, and Anne Jeffreys as saloon gal Ruby, who's heart is in the right place but has to work out her minor feud with Susan before the story runs it's course. Say what you will, but I never think it's a good idea for a bad guy to shoot a woman in the back, but that's what happens here when Logan Maury (Steve Brodie) finds out Ruby burned up the mortgages he held on the farmer properties when they cashed out. I'm not altogether sure that mortgage business would have held up legally, but it played out believably enough for the ranchers to make their comeback.

    The story line is peppered with references to Bat Masterson's journalistic ambitions while he was plying his trade as a lawman. As the story closes, Bat's about to head East to become a newspaper writer for real, though it's never mentioned that he went to work as a sports writer for the New York Morning Telegraph. And after Gabby's character made all those frequent quips about the fabled Brandyhead Jones, it was a blast to see who showed up aboard a stagecoach for the closing scene - good old Brandyhead, bearing a most remarkable resemblance to Gabby himself.
  • Do a title search on Randolph Scott and TRAIL STREET is the one film missing from the list you've seen. One of 4 films Scott made at RKO during his prime (1947) the others are always easy to get. Liberal, Kansas is just southwest of Dodge City and is a powder-keg about to explode between the trail-riders who drive the longhorns into Trail Street, the town's main street, and the sod-busters who feed our bellies. It'll take a strong man like Bat Masterson to step between the two groups and bring the town to order. More I won't say, except that Scott movies usually have just one pretty girl and this one has three. RANDOLPH SCOTT always played men you could look up to for their sense of honor, courage, level-headedness and willingness to do the right thing. Fifty years ago parents could send their kids to a Scott movie with confidence they'd learn positive values. ROBERT RYAN co-stars in this film, playing a good guy for a change. In real life, RYAN was one of the many WORLD WAR II HEROS who starred in America's movies. How sad what we get these days. George Clooney teaches our young that we ought sympathize with suicide bombers, while Steven Spielberg teaches there is no moral difference between the Olympic athletes murdered in 1972 in Munich and the Palestinian terrorists who killed them. Hollywood 2005 derives their moral compass from too much cocaine and too much commitment to the wacky left. I wonder how all this plays out in Liberal, Kansas. Liberal, after all, was not a dirty word 150 years ago when the city was named.
  • januszlvii11 February 2021
    Warning: Spoilers
    Working my way through Randolph Scott westerns ( Scott after Gary Cooper and Alan Ladd was my favorite), comes this rarely screened movie. I got lucky because TCM was showing Robert Ryan movies. Here Ryan's character Alan Harper is the good guy. Without a doubt the nicest guy Ryan ever played. If you know Ryan, you are aware that even when he is the good guy he is a hard character never too nice ( The Proud Ones for example). Scott, however was the main star playing Bat Masterson who as Marshal has the job of cleaning up Liberal, Kansas. What was interesting was the ending with Masterson going to New York to become a journalist ( he did become a sportswriter specializing in boxing). Of course, he does have to overcome a real bad guy in Logan Maury ( Steve Brodie) who wants to drive farmers off their land so he can run cattle. This guy is so bad he shoots a woman named Ruby Stone ( Anne Jeffries) in the back and his own men turn against him and spoilers ahead; gets gunned down by Masterson. Interestingly enough Ryan is the one who gets the girl Susan ( Madge Pritchard). Susan believe it or not saves Masterson from getting murdered by Maury henchman Lance Larkin by shooting him dead. This is not the best Scott Western, ( I swear by To The Last Man ( along with Santa Fe, Gunfighters and of course, Ride The High Country)), nor the worst ( When The Daltons Rode). But if you see it on TV do not miss it because once again it is rarely screened. I give it 7/10 stars.
  • Liberal is a town in Kansas that is rapidly descending into lawlessness. That is until local "Billy Jones" (Gabby Hayes) gets his pal "Bat Masterson" (Randolph Scott), a federal marshal, to come and try to sort things out. With the help of "Harper" (Robert Ryan) and dancing girl "Ruby" (Anne Jeffreys) he sets his sights on "Maury" (Steve Brodie) and his manipulative henchman "Carmody" (Billy House). The only thing that distinguishes this from a whole slew of others of this type, is that Ryan manages to discover a wheat that is resistant to drought - a pretty perennial problem here - and that galvanises the farmers who are on the verge of giving up. Otherwise, it is a pretty routine adventure peppered with a few shoot-outs and a bit of romance. Scott and Ryan do their jobs OK, and the story moves along quickly enough but if you've seen one, then I'm afraid you've seen them all as far as this is concerned.
  • Bat Masterson (Randolph Scott) pitches up in the Kansas town of Liberty after receiving a call from old friend Billy Burns (Gabby Hayes) to bring to justice a crooked cattleman who is planning to buy up all the land vacated by the poor farmers he's driving out of business. It's a typical Scott Western, but he has no love interest, thanks to a youthful Robert Ryan to whom his role often feels subordinate. The rotund Billy House catches the eye as a sleazy, perpetually smiling saloon owner, and Gabby Hayes entertains with some Uncle Albert-like recollections of his old compadre, Brandyhead Jones. One of Madge Meredith's last roles before an unjust 5-year prison sentence virtually ended her career.
  • Disappointing Considering the Cast. Randolph Scott and Robert Ryan go through the motions on this rather Routine Western about Cattlemen and Farmers in Drought Ridden Kansas. There is a Subplot about how Winter Wheat was Introduced and the Sodbusters are Saved from Pulling Roots and Moving on.

    There's also a Good Supporting Cast with Steve Brodie and Gabby Hayes. Brodie, Despite an Oily Demeanor and a Villain's Mustache seems Misplaced and Gabby Hayes all but Ruins the Movie with His Typical Shenanigans. In Fact, a Running Gag has the Sheriff telling Him to Shut Up, because He "Talks Too Much". Boy, does He ever. It becomes Silly, Intrusive, and Irritating.

    Overall, Not a Bad Western Movie with some heavy Love interests and Bad Guys worth Hating and Good Guys, like Bat Masterson around to Clean Up the Street. The whole Cast has done Better but the Film is Worth a Watch because of Scott and Ryan and Not Much Else.
  • No, it can't be. Randolph Scott in a dull western? I didn't believe it until I saw "Trail Street", a very talky talking picture with a good cast. Here, Scott is Bat Masterson who comes to Liberal, Kansas and becomes Marshal. He comes to the aid of newspaper editor Robert Ryan, one of Hollywood's better if underrated actors. Along for comic relief is old reliable Gabby Hayes, who never disappoints, and Anne Jeffreys as a glamorous dance hall girl.

    It takes forever for them to get around to the bad guys, spearheaded by Steve Brodie, who 'owns' Liberal, via his saloon. No new ground is broken and the story is the usual good guys vs bad guys, but the script must have been enormous due to the great amount of dialogue. "Trail Street" is for hardcore Randolph Scott fans, who is his usual stalwart self.
  • rmax30482317 June 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    Things are tough in Liberal, Kansas. The wheat farmers are having one heck of a bad time. Kansas doesn't seem to be wheat country. This doesn't bother the cattlemen, led and exploited by Steve Brody. As the farmers try to pull out, one by one, he buys up their land at low prices and sells it at a profit to newcomers and cattle folk alike. I think that's what he does. Anyway, the point is that he's evil.

    Robert Ryan, a good guy, is lending the farmers all the money he can get his hands on to keep them trying because he feels Kansas can become the breadbasket of America. He comes across a strain of wheat that can survive the summer droughts -- winter wheat -- and saves the day. And you thought Kansas was nothing more than sunflowers and tornadoes.

    That no-goodnik Steve Brody will do anything to keep the farmers from finding out about winter wheat. It leads to murder, for which Robert Ryan is framed.

    Enter the new town marshall, Bat Masterson, in the person of Randolph Scott. He begins to introduce law and order into this chaotic Western town even before he steps out of the stagecoach. (He reached out the window and bonks somebody over the head with his revolver.) Robert Ryan is in love with the beautiful Madge Meredith. She seems to love him back but decides to run away with the evil Steve Brody because he, at least, will take her to Chicago with him as his wife and she'll be able to live the good life she's entitled to, rich and spoiled. Now, is that a desirable spouse or what? Ryan's judgmental apparatus must have the density of titanium.

    It SOUNDS okay and in some ways it's a novelty. That search for winter wheat, for instance, and the question of Kansas' future. But mostly it's rather boring. The story meanders quite a lot and leaves oxbow lakes behind. And that's not the only problem.

    There is a scene in which an argument takes place between Madge Meredith, the love of Ryan's life, and Anne Jeffreys as the, umm, yes -- as the "dance hall singer" with a heart of gold. It's a fascinating exchange, because it demonstrates that Madge Meredith cannot act while Anne Jeffreys can.

    There isn't much action in the movie either, aside from hordes of gunmen riding recklessly down Trail Street and shooting things up. But that sort of thing is de rigueur. I mean there's little meaningful action. It's a talky picture.

    Randolph Scott is winning, as always, but his character is not. He doesn't outdraw anyone. I'm not sure he even SHOOTS anyone. And he smiles constantly and is always polite. A villain, to him, is "this gentleman." He's not nearly GRIM enough, not the engaging and taciturn spoilsport he was to become in his Westerns of the 1950s. He doesn't really want to be a marshall, he tells Ryan. You know what he really wants to do? He wants to be a "journalist," a word that the unfunny Gabby Hayes is unable to even pronounce. (The real Masterson went on to become a timekeeper or something at a world's heavyweight boxing championship bout in New York.) The movie had a good deal of potential, what with the cast and a potentially interesting plot about wheat and farmers and saloons, but it just kind of dribbles itself away into nothing of much interest.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Yet another cattlemen-sodbuster war story. Of course, the rowdy trigger-happy cowboys and their town buddies are always the bad guys. Scott had just finished starring in a very similar tale in the 1946 "Abilene Town". Well, it does make a very reasonable and inflammatory plot. In this one, we have moved far to the southwest of Abilene, to the small frontier town of Liberal, KS, which is very near the (now) Oklahoma border.Scott plays the historical Bat Masterson, who was actually involved as a lawman in the not too distant town of Dodge City and surrounding Ford County. The final action scene actually has some possible historical basis, although well garbled.Bat did apprehend a man who accidentally killed a saloon girl. There was a Dodge City street incident in which he shot and killed the man who had just shot and killed his brother, who was marshal of the town. Put these two incidents together, garble them a bit, and you have the final action scene. If you have seen the Jimmy Stewart-starring "The Far Country", the ending will also be rather familiar.

    As in "Abilene Town" (and so many other films), we have two young women involved: a saloon girl, and a straight-laced one. Maggie Meredith(as Susan Pritchard), the prim debutante from the east, is revealed as an opportunistic gold digger, and does not deserve her fate in the story. Anne Jeffreys plays the uncommonly good looking saloon girl Ruby Stone, with a heart of gold, who also doesn't deserve her fate in the ending. Actually, Anne Dvorak, in "Abilene Town" was more charismatic than Jeffreys, had better songs to belt out, and had a much more interesting relationship with Scott. Robert Ryan, as the business partner of the homesteaders and Scott's ally in reigning in the criminal element among the cattlemen, is not my favorite actor. Too stiff, unemotional and non-charismatic. Gabby Hayes, as Scott's other chief ally, plays his usual talkative, ornery, charismatic self.

    The plot involves the unusual factor of the homesteaders wanting to leave, not only because the cattlemen are destroying their crops and homes, but because their crops dry up before they mature. In the story, a lone farmer says he has discovered how to grow wheat so it won't dry up. The secret is to use the right(imported) seed and plant it in the fall, rather than the spring. Again, this has some historical basis, although garbled. Winter wheat growing on the Great Plains was begun in Kansas by German and Russian Mennonite homesteaders. Others imported improved varieties from Russia. Still, drought was a real threat, and homesteaders sometimes gave up after a series of drought years. Getting back to the story in the film, the cattle interests, of course, try to do everything to prevent the spread of the idea of growing winter wheat and to destroy the special wheat seeds needed to grow this.

    If you are a dyed in the wool Randy fan, you will want to see both this and "Abilene Town". I somewhat prefer the latter, although the quality of the film copies available is poorer than for the present film. On the other hand, owning a DVD copy of "Abilene Town" is much cheaper, especially now that it is part of a very cheap Scott films package.
  • Well, the musical numbers keep bring this thing to a screeching halt. Should have left them out. Anne Jeffreys is "Ruby", who does the singing in the saloon, as required. Jeffreys, Randolph Scott, and Robert Ryan star in this very typical western from RKO. Something about Bat Masterson accepting the job of sheriff in a town where sheriffs don't last long. And Gabby Hayes is in here for comic relief, as he was in most of the westerns ever made. It's all "okay", and the conversations are all pretty slow and stilted. (Supporting actress Madge has an interesting story on wikipedi.org , if you have a few minutes. Justice gone wrong.) Fistfights, gunfights, mistaken identity. Novel by William Corcoran.... not a lot of info on him anywhere. On Turner Classic now and then. Watch this one to see Randolph Scott, or substitute any other western du jour. Directed by Ray Enright. Enright had been around since the VERY early days of silents.