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  • In my opinion, Roy Rogers's best B-Westerns were the ones in the late forties-early fifties that were directed by William Witney, the "action ace." Of these Witney-Rogers ones, TRIGGER JR. is one of the best. Roy, Trigger, Trigger's almost-full grown son Trigger Jr., sidekicks Gordon Jones and Pat Brady, Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage, along with Roy's circus/wild west show, arrive at the ranch of Colonel Harkrider (veteran character actor George Cleveland), formerly partners with Roy's father Jonathan Rogers in the circus. They wish to winter at the ranch, as it is circus press agent Splinter's (Jones) idea that this will get the circus free publicity. The Colonel's daughter Kay (Dale Evans) also hopes that the prescence of the circus will get vigor back in her father, and that he will resume command of the circus when it leaves in the spring. The Colonel, however, is not too keen on circus life since the death of his older daughter during her bareback riding act. Her son, young Larry (Peter Miles) has ever since been afraid of horses, and the Colonel considers him a coward. The villain of the piece is Manson (Grant Withers), head of the so-called "Range Patrol" which is supposed to keep ranchers' horses from straying onto neighbouring ranges and prevent wild horse from making off with the herds. However, they have accomplished nothing, charged the ranchers exorbitant fees, and they are even suspected of rustling horse. Therefore, the Colonel wants to call together the ranchers to ask for a disbandment of the Range Patrol. Manson, who, needless to say, is rustling while collecting his huge fees, does not want his nice little racket to be wrecked, so he arranges for the escape of a vicious wild hores which the ranchers had ordered destroyed, and turns it loose on the ranchers' stock. The "Phantom" as the killer horse comes to be called, begins vicious raids on the ranch horses, striking them down and killing them with his hoofs. Just as Manson had planned, this gives his Range Patrol an excuse to stay around and "protect" the ranches from the Phantom. How Roy, Trigger Sr. and Jr., the Harkriders, Splinter, and the Riders of the Purple Sage defeat Manson's schemes makes for masterful entertainment. Both Trigger and little Larry prove key factors in the defeat of Manson, and he and his horse are finally brought to bay. This movie has plenty of action, comedy, and drama. Some of the action, such as a violent "hoof fight" between Trigger and the Phantom, is unique and not usually found in B-Westerns. Music is not as well represented as in Roy's earlier films such as BELLS OF ROSARITA, as there are only three songs, but there is nothing wrong with that. And two of the songs are, in my opinion, among the best of the ballads rendered by Roy. They are the delightfully informal "May the good Lord take a likin' to ya" and the eriee and haunting "Stampede!" So two thumbs-up for TRIGGER JR., Roy, Dale, Wit--and Trigger, of course.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Veteran B movie director William Witney still had what it takes in 1950 to turn this Dale Evans/Roy Rogers vehicle into a memorable and pleasant outing for all concerned.

    Roy is a travelling horse carnival man who winters with a cantankerous old man (George Cleveland) who disapproves of his son (young Peter Miles), a boy who's become afraid of horses after his mother's death in a freak accident. In a nice touch relaying the age of the dying West, Roy and his friends go to a horse auction held by an army relay station. There they see a dangerous white stallion who's been condemned to die for his violence against other horses. They attempt to buy the deadly stallion for use in their show, but are assured by the doctor (I. Stanford Jolley) that the horse must die. However Jolley, who is about to lose his job with the relay station, makes a deal with an unscrupulous rancher to keep the horse alive. The rancher then sets the horse on his competitor's ranches and urges them to buy his protection so they will be safe. It's up to the boy to overcome his fear of horses in time to rescue Roy and the others.

    The photography by Jack Marta is arguably reason enough to watch the film -- the set designers have filled every scene with rich and vibrant colors and everything is framed perfectly. The most exceptional aspect of the film IMHO is the music, some of which is well written. I particularly enjoyed both the music and staging of "Stampede".
  • Trigger, Jr. finds Roy Rogers heading a traveling circus that is looking to put up at Dale Evans ranch for winter quarters. Unfortunately her father George Cleveland owns the place and he's an old circus man himself who's sworn off the sawdust. Still he lets them stay for a bit.

    Turns out he needs Roy around because he's in a battle with Grant Withers of the Range Patrol. Withers has himself a real nice protection racket going. Those ranches who don't employ him somehow keep losing their stock.

    Withers during the course of the film employs the services of a killer white stallion that was a former army horse that the army ordered destroyed. Trigger tangles with the horse they call the Phantom and is injured and has hysterical blindness in their first encounter. Guess who wins the return bout. Here's a hint, think Louis and Schmeling.

    Roy and Dale really do take a back seat to Trigger and his problems in this film. They do however get to sing a very nice duet entitled May the Good Lord Take A Liking To You which sold a few records back in the day. I have it on one of my old record albums. Roy did all right in the recording field, but never was a blockbuster best seller the way his singing cowboy rival Gene Autry was.

    It's not a bad film, but Trigger really should have been billed first.
  • "Trigger, Jr." is one of Roy Rogers' later B-westerns and like so many of these later films, it was made in TruColor...a two-color film process that was much cheaper than Technicolor. Considering it is a B, you can understand why the studio often used TruColor...though the colors, over time, really aren't that true as they tend to look very washed out and the color spectrum isn't very lifelike. Fortunately, this TruColor print on YouTube looks better than most (aside from its amber sort of tint and it being slightly blurry) and is full-length (many of Rogers' films were trimmed for television and only the TV prints are available in some cases). Also, like many of Rogers' later films, his sidekick or comic relief is Gordon Jones and I never particularly liked him in these goofy parts and much preferred Gabby Hayes or even Roy without a sidekick.

    When the story begins, the self-appointed 'Range Patrol' has just taken Trigger and Trigger Jr.. It seems there was a storm and the pair escaped...and Roy and Splinters (Jones) arrive to claim their rightful property. But the Range Patrol jerks refuse to return the horses...and Roy and Splinter's knuckles teach them the error of their ways! You then learn that this patrol is a shakedown racket that charges local ranchers a fee to 'protect' their horse sand cattle! When the Colonel and Roy refuse to join this 'association', the Patrol decide to try out their new weapon...a demonic horse! This is a stupid gimmick, but supposedly this white horse is evil...and murders horses it comes into contact with out on the range. Their plan is to use this horse in their efforts to shakedown the ranchers! Can Roy, or an exorcist, stop this horse of evil and the Range Patrol??

    There's a very nice song at the horse auction and some of the film is enjoyable. But the plot about the evil horse is just so completely stupid I had a hard time enjoying this silly and ill-conceived story. You wonder why Rogers even agreed to make this movie considering how silly the plot was. Other reviewers, apparently, were able to look past this evil murderous horse plot...I just couldn't.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    One of the sad things about Roy Rogers legacy is that much of lies on the cutting room floor. Most of Roy's films lasted about 74 minutes (give or take). But to fit them into an hour long television slot in the 1950s...with commercials...they were sliced up with no foresight to preserve master copies of many of the films. Fortunately, my favorite Roy Rogers film -- "Don't Fence Me In" -- was saved, as was this one. And this one was done in Trucolor and has been restored. The print as seen on Turner Classic Movies is close to pristeen.

    And, despite being made in the 1950's, it's a pretty good RR film. Roy runs a small circus here and is wintering at a ranch owned by the old circus owner, now crippled and grumpy, in part because one of his daughters died in a riding accident. His daughter (Dale Evans) wants to get back into "circusing", also as a rider. But meanwhile a "private posse" that protects ranchers is up to no good, and they find a "killer horse" that unleashes a reign of terror on local ranches. Who comes to the rescue? Roy, of course, along with Trigger...but Trigger is blinded when the killer horse attacks.

    Roy's good here, although clearly Roy has a stunt double. Pat Brady is one of his sidekicks here, as is Gordon Jones (neither can hold a candle to my old favorite -- Gabby Hayes). You don't see that much of Dale Evans here. George Cleveland is a hoot as the crippled ranch owner.

    There are also a couple of good musical numbers.

    All things considered this is a pretty good RR flick!
  • "Trigger Jr" is a very well made film, but don't go into it expecting a typical Roy Rogers movie. I agree with a previous reviewer who noted that a better title would have been "The Phantom Stallion", because that is the character that motivates this movie, and he is presented as an almost supernatural creature in a horror movie rather than as a real animal. He is actually shown as being "created" as a monster by the bad guys who torture him, and send him out to do their evil bidding. There are a lot of horror elements in this movie, including nightmarish visions of stampedes, thunderstorms, and a surprising amount of violence for a Roy Rogers movie, most of which is directed towards animals rather than people. Many of the people in the movie are pretty dark too, including the grandfather who is almost sadistic toward his grandson through most of the movie. Even Roy Rogers and Dale Evans are really subdued in this movie, and there is less comic relief than usual. Foy Willing and the Riders of the Purple Sage are nicely highlighted, and all the songs are wonderful. The circus scenes are entertaining, and the photography and direction by William Witney is excellent. The horses are really the stars of this movie.
  • A windstorm sidetracks singing cowboy Roy Rogers (as Roy Rogers) and his traveling "Rogers Western Show" carnival. The Rogers troupe - including faithful horse "Trigger" and titular offspring "Trigger Jr." - set up camp at the Harkrider Ranch. Rogers and company form an immediate bond with the Harkriders - perky Dale Evans (as Kay), preteen Peter Miles (as Larry), and grandpa George Cleveland. Nasty racketeers led by Grant Withers (as Mason) mean danger and adventure for Rogers and his friends...

    The King of the Cowboys continued to reign in filmgoers in the fifties, with this vivid "Truecolor" entry directed by William Witney being one of the better entries. These films were made very quickly and never intended to be art, but modern viewers can become enchanted here and there (as in the past). "Trigger, Jr." is inappropriately titled - "The Phantom Stallion" would have been better - but it accentuates the lush, dream-like quality of many by including an effective nightmare, had by young Miles.

    Miles' nightmarish dream includes the blinded "Trigger", who had earlier donned a downright creepy looking mask. Also noteworthy is the characterization given Miles, who "gets more like his father every day," a "worthless, no account drifter." This description comes from grandfather Cleveland, who is introduced as lovable, and from a wheelchair. However, his character is more darkly complex, and his disability not at all contrived. Frequent Rogers director Witney corrals it well, with good action and stunt work.

    ****** Trigger, Jr. (6/30/50) William Witney ~ Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Gordon Jones, Peter Miles