20 February 2006 | krorie
One of the great Wild Bill Elliott westerns
This B western delivers the goods a lot better than most A westerns of the period with standout performances by a well-chosen cast. John Carroll as outlaw Johnny Morrell takes top honors. Why, he even gets to sing. His chicanery is masked by his good looks and by his way with women, especially with the Mexican spitfire Estelita Del Rey (Estelita Rodriguez) who finds his charms irresistible though her family, notably her brother, sees through his angelic smile. He's the key figure in the film so keep your eye on him.
Bill Stockton (Wild Bill) and his sidekick Sam Bowie (the inimitable Andy Divine)come to Los Angeles in answer to Bill's brother's call for assistance. It seems a gang of bandits is attempting to run the ranchers off and take their land, their cattle, and their gold. Upon arriving Bill is informed that his brother has been murdered by the bandits. Bill and Sam find themselves caught in the middle of what becomes a complex yarn that even Wild Bill has trouble untangling.
Thrown in for good measure this outing is not one romance but two. Besides the exploitative romance between Johnny Morrell and Estelita Del Rey, Wild Bill finds himself falling in love with the dance hall girl Marie Marlowe (Catherine McLeod) who sings up a storm but is attached in a rather mysterious way to the owner of the saloon Luis Savarin (Joseph Schildkraut) who unknown to Wild Bill is also the mastermind behind the outlaws, desiring to gain all the land in the Los Angeles area for his own private empire. The outlaw hierarchy for this B western is so complex that even the traditional heavies Grant Withers and Roy Barcroft get confused before the show is over. The love triangle in which Wild Bill becomes enmeshed is also a key element in the plot of the movie.
The director Joe Kane specialized in Republic westerns which were the best B westerns around. His talents are showcased in this film, especially by the way the fights are handled. The camera zooms in for closeups at just the right time to emphasize the blows being given then zooms out for the total impact. This makes for extremely realistic fisticuffs. Adding to the excitement and adventure are the shootouts and chases with cinematography par excellent. There's not much time for comedy with the multileveled plot and subplot unfolding but when the funny routines appear they're good ones since Andy Divine is in charge. Andy and Wild Bill interact well together with Bill calling him slim.
This is a dandy feature for kids of all ages, not just western buffs.