6 September 2007 | bkoganbing
Road Gangs for Wayward Youth
Heart of the Rockies is one of two films that Republic Pictures put out with this title. The first was a Three Mesquiteer film with Max Terhune, Crash Corrigan, and Bob Livingston. It was infinitely superior to this Roy Rogers epic.
I sincerely hope that this film did not play in any of the prisons because if it did there would have been a riot. The premise of this film is that a crusty local rancher, Ralph Morgan, has been violently against a work camp for young prisoners cutting through his land. Roy Rogers is the chief engineer for the road and the labor he's using is young first offender convicts. The idea behind it is the director of the camp is a former warden William Gould says it's to keep the young guys in the fresh air and away from the hard cases. If the camp closes down the government might actually have to pay civilian workers and the road might never get done.
Well it's certainly an interesting take on the penal system and a defense for using convict labor. Of course such films as Brubaker take a much different line. And my idea of a convict road gang is best expressed cinematically by Cool Hand Luke.
Anyway Morgan's got troubles in his own house. His niece Penny Edwards has taken a real shine to Roy. And he's got a doubledealing, doublecrossing foreman in Fred Graham who both has something on Morgan and is working his own agenda.
I don't expect much from the B westerns and don't usually get it, but this film actually left me aghast. I wonder if Robert Mitchum who actually did time on a road gang ever saw this film and what he must have thought.