19 September 2006 | django-1
OK late-Republic western serial, noteworthy for star Tom Keene
The other review of this 1950 Republic western serial described it as "competent", and I second that. It's solid, features fistfights and gunfights and bar brawls and wagon/horse chases galore, and works well as bread-and-butter western entertainment--kind of like the later Rocky Lane films. The plot involves a collective of rural folk who have some oil leases, which are being sabotaged by evil Easterner I. Stanford Jolley (in an outlandish stovepipe hat, as oily as ever!). The head man for the locals is the great 30s western star Tom Keene, now billed as "Richard Powers" as he was during his 40s/50s supporting actor period. It's great to see the star of OUR DAILY BREAD as the star of a film once again, and he brings a kind of depth and gravitas to the role that the usual late-Republic bland leading men, chosen to match the Republic stunt men, usually lack. The mature Mr. Keene is obviously doubled in the fights A LOT, but that's OK--he's an impressive hero anyway. Roy Barcroft is along for the ride as Jolley's henchman, and such western stalwarts of Dennis Moore (as a workman drinking on the job!) and George Chesebro (as a wagon driver, if I remember correctly) are in small roles and not even billed. As I observed in my review of GOVERNMENT AGENTS VERSUS PHANTOM LEGION, a Republic serial from 1951, there was a kind of generic quality to some of the Republic product in this period (except for those that still had a weirdness quotient, such as JUNGLE DRUMS OF Africa or Canadian MOUNTIES VS ATOMIC INVADERS), but star Keene, the fine supporting cast, and an oilfield setting, make this serial a LITTLE bit different. Fans of "b" westerns or post-World War II Republic serials should find this entertaining and worthwhile, but it may drag a bit for the general audience.