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Code of the Saddle

Johnny Mack Brown rides the vengeance trail !
Johnny Mack Brown, the former gridiron star, headlines this standard Post WWII oater filmed at Gene Autry's Melody Ranch. Brown and grizzled saddle-pal Ray Hatton find themselves in the middle of a blazing Range War...... with no resolution in sight !

The acting here is pretty standard, but Brown is as personable and heroic as ever. Hatton makes a fine sidekick, meshing well with the aging Johnny Mack Brown. The film is unique in presenting a strong, admirable female lead.

While this is not classic cinema, The banter between the lead characters is quite fun and not a bad way to spend a lazy afternoon .......

The Big Valley: Teacher of Outlaws
Episode 19, Season 1

A gem of an episode
This touching episode of the beloved western series was one of the best and most memorable of the entire run.In this thought-provoking story, Ms. Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck) is kidnapped by an outlaw gang, while visiting a school. She is mistaken for the teacher, and the gangs leader is not seeking ransom, but a tutor !

Harold Stone was superb as the chief "villain". His performance is both touching and believable. He and the great Barbara Stanwyck have fantastic chemistry together. The conclusion, while expected, was still very powerful.

For those folks who think all westerns are simple-minded, check this classic story out. One of the best episodes ever !

Trail of the Yukon

The great white north ................
This 1949 western features Kirby "Sky King" Grant and his faithful canine servant "Chinook". Grant is a heroic member of the Mounties on the trail of bank Robbers who ripped off a crooked Banker/Claim Jumper.Kirby and his faithful sidekick rush to the rescue and save the day !

This film was a standard programmer, with good action but few surprises. It reminded me a little of the Sgt Preston of the Yukon series. Kirby Grant was very convincing in his role. Look fast for Jay "Tonto" Silverheels in a small role here.

Fans of Call of the Wild or similar works will enjoy this adventure film. It is a good way to pass an hour of leisure time. Enjoy !

The Swiss Family Robinson

Memorable TV Adaptation ..........
I still remember watching this fun version of the classic novel. In many ways, I enjoyed this one even more than the Disney version. Martin Milner, John Vernon, John Crawford and the cast do an admirable job---even with the limited budget! Cameron Mitchell was outstanding in his role !

The story is,of course, timeless. A family finds itself stranded on a deserted (?) island -- and is forced to adapt and overcome the harsh environment. Fans of Castaway, Lost, Robinson Crusoe, Lost in Space or Mysterious Island will find this genre film surprisingly effective.

It is a great family film, suitable for all ages !

Stagecoach Driver

A great B-movie cast .....
In this 1951 cowboy saga stars Whip Wilson and Jim Bannon. Bannon and his brother own a stagecoach line, but the brother is murdered and Bannon is framed for it ! As usual, the whip-wielding Wilson comes in to get to the bottom of all these shenanigans......

I enjoyed this film, despite a pretty standard plot. Whip Wilson was surprisingly effective and Jim Bannon had one of his better roles here. John "Lone Ranger" Hart even appears in a supporting role. This was a fun film, one that fans of the western programmers should enjoy.

Of all Whip Wilson's films, this one stands out as one that is a must-see............

Border Rangers

A tale of border revenge & redemption ......
Don "Red" Barry stars in this 1950s shoot-em-up that offers action, decent casting and a well-paced production. Barry is a Ranger who has enlisted to seek revenge for the death of his brother. His Captain sends him south of the border to lure the murderous swine into a well-planned trap.

Lyle Talbot co-stars as the Ranger Captain and the always enjoyable Wally Vernon appears in the comical sidekick role! Red Barry was an intense actor, always believable as the action hero (despite his short stature). This was one of a string of fine Red Barry films from this era. An enjoyable programmer ........

The Road West

A short trip ...........
This short-lived 1960's series was a cross between Wagon Train & How The West Was Won (though not as good ...) . A band of pioneers trek westward from Kansas to settle in the frontier west. The series featured the great James Gammon, Strother Martin and the prolific western character actor Roy Roberts. George C. Scott also appears here!

This series is rarely seen today,but my recollection of it is clear. The show was average, with great casting but a fairly standard storyline. Fans of the interesting cast might want to check this one out, but the same plot was done much better by other series.

Recommended only for die-hard western fans .

Female Artillery

A fun 70's TV Western ........
This 1973 television western features the kind of amiable western film-making common at that time. A fine cast is on hand, including Dennis Weaver, Ida Lupino and Albert Salmi ---- all veterans of many western roles. The story here involves a fleeing outlaw who links up with a troupe of traveling ladies , hiding his loot with them. As might be expected, all sorts of complications then take place.

Dennis Weaver was very good in this film, obviously enjoying another well-written western role. From Gunsmoke to McCloud, he was always at home in the saddle. This is a good, but rarely shown western film. Catch it if you can !

Stranger at My Door

Good Family entertainment .....
MacDonald Carey made several entertaining low budget western films in the 1950's, before gaining lasting fame as the lead on the soap opera "Days of our Lives". In this western with a message, Carey finds himself in a saga of good vs. evil, faith vs. worldliness. An escaping convict and a peaceful minister do battle for the salvation of the felons soul! Both men seem equally sure of their eventual victory.

I enjoyed this film and feel it was well suited to Mr. Carey's abilities. It was also fun to see the casting of Slim Pickens (What would westerns have done without him ?). Even though this storyline was recycled, this one is still very much worth viewing.

Thundering Caravans

Two Rockies for the price of one !!
Allan "Rocky" Lane stars in this 1952 B-western from the closing days of the program films. Lane had risen to fame earlier as the Red Ryder, then starred in this western series. This film concerns stolen ore from a local mine, crooked politics and yellow journalism. Compared to most other films of the series, I feel the plot here was more interesting and well written.

Co-starring as the classic villain is the prolific Roy Barcroft (who often had a higher salary than the lead actors !). Also on hand in this film is Richard Crane, who starred as Space Ranger Rocky Jones in an early TV Sci-Fi series !

Texas City

Where is the gold snitch ????
This 1952 Western from the great Johnny Mack Brown involves stolen Army gold shipments. An apparent army insider is tipping off the thieves of the shipping routes/times & Brown is sent to get to the bottom of the larcenous shenanigans.

A familiar cast of Western character actors appear here, making this rather standard film more fun than I had expected. James Ellison makes a fine sidekick to Johnny Mack Brown, helping out especially well in the action scenes.

While I prefer Brown's earlier films, this one was worth seeing and about what I had expected. Check it out !

Dead Man's Trail

Johnny Mack Brown tracks down the $$$$$
Former gridiron star Johnny Mack Brown had a career in the B-westerns that spanned from the 1930's thru the 1950's and beyond. In this standard outing, Brown is sent by his superiors to track down some missing loot, to return it to those on the right side of the law. The plot and scripting are standard here, but Brown is always enjoyable in his western performances. He was older here, but still formidable.

Co-starring with Brown is James "Shamrock" Ellison of Hopalong Cassidy fame. Ellision is best-remembered as the sidekick to Hoppy in many 1930's westerns. Ellison never really made it to the top as a lead player, but he does a good job in this supporting role.

This is an average western programmer from an above-average cowboy legend......... Enjoy !

Partners of the Plains

This Hoppy film has it all (almost .....)
The early Hopalong Cassidy films were generally the best & this one is no exception. Hoppy is again joined here by the young Russell "Lucky" Hayden, as they help a lady in distress manage a ranch coveted by several sagebrush ruffians. The lady initially detests Hoppy, but soon becomes enamored of the black-clad foreman.

Gabby Hayes is absent from this film, due to then on-going contract negotiations. While his presence is missed here, this film offers all the best elements of the classic Hoppy film. The action, script and casting here are superb. No one played the western hero better than William Boyd and he is at his prime here!

One of the top 10 Hopalong films !

Fort Savage Raiders

Durango tracks down a band of desperadoes ....
This Durango Kid film has something for everyone. In this action-packed sagebrush saga, Durango and Smiley are on the trail of Army stockade escapees. Along the way, the 2 heroes encounter an embittered scalawag who blames the Army for the loss of his beloved son !

Charles Starrett and Smiley Burnette were outstanding in this series entry. Starrett was always believably heroic, no matter what the script might call for. Smiley was well-rounded in more ways than one --- combining comedy, music and action equally well.

As an added bonus, genre veteran John Dehner appears here as the villain with the chip on his shoulder. This was a fun, fast-moving matinée classic !

The Hawk of Wild River

A fun old-fashioned shoot-em-up !
One of the best loved & most prolific of western movie series were the Durango Kid films. Charles Starrett starred as the black -masked cowboy hero, righting wrongs and fighting injustice in the old west. His regular sidekick was the great Smiley Burnette, finest of the western comedians !

In this fun, action-filled movie, our two heroes are in all sorts of jams, eventually coralling the bad guy & saving the day. Two beloved western series stars are on hand in the great supporting cast. Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger) and Jock Mahoney (Range Rider) are featured in this star-studded B-western !

Enjoy this very entertaining tale of the Durango Kid !!!

Law of the Badlands

Tim & Chito foil a counterfeiting scam !
Tim Holt and Richard "Chito" Martin were among the very best western teams, with great chemistry and personality that leapt from the screen. This 1951 pairing finds the two lawmen going undercover to expose a counterfeiting ring ----- until they are accidentally exposed by Chito's old flame.

Added to this great mix of B-western action is a fine supporting cast and entertaining story line. Bob Livingston has a very fine featured role here, one of his best roles since his 3 Mewsquiteers heyday.

While some audiences today may not be keen on B-westerns, this one will definitely appeal to most fans of vintage oaters. The action, comedy and suspense here are outstanding....... Enjoy !

Silver City

Great 1950's Western
This 1951 Color Western features a splendid cast, familiar story and a memorable conclusion. The great Edmond O'Brien leads the great cast in a story of greed, graft and silver mine shenanigans. Arlen and O'Brien are former partners who do battle over the treasures ( A lady and a mine !)

Along for the bumpy ride in this fun oater are Edgar Buchanan, Richard Arlen and Yvonne DeCarlo. I also enjoyed seeing the great Barry Fitzgerald as a villainous mine older. Fans of post WWII westerns will enjoy this well-paced film. I believe that Edmond Obrien rarely gave a bad performance........ this one was one of his best !

They don't make 'em like this anymore.........but they should !

Cowboy Commandos

Cowboy Commandos KO the Nazis !
This WWII era western programmer finds the Range Buster trio doing battle with a nefarious gang of Nazi infiltrators. A valuable magnesium mine is being sabotaged by the Germans, causing Crash and Denny to come to the aid of their pal Alibi Terhune.

The film is obviously a bit dated now, but fans of the B-western trios will find this a fun but standard entry. The prolific western villain George Chesboro has a featured role here. The action and suspense here are noteworthy, despite the low budget and production values.

This was not a classic film, but it will be enjoyed by fans of this era of cowboy oaters ........

Standing Tall

A fairly good TV western, worth a look !
I remember seeing this on TV the late 70's, and was surprised to see how well it holds up nearly 3 decades later. Although the story of a harassed rancher has been done many times, the casting and writing here were a notch above the ordinary.

Robert Forster was very good here, with great support from Linda Evans. Chuck Connors (of Rifleman fame) was very good in this film... he was a much better actor than most folks realize. Buck Taylor is also featured in this interesting film. Fans of westerns, family drama and outdoor films should really enjoy this one.

The film is available on VHS, but I have yet to see it out on DVD. Check this one out !

Sheriff of Sundown

Rocky Lane, Special Agent
This WWII era cowboy programmer was a cut above others of its kind. A virtual "Who's Who" of western cinema appears in this solid, fast-paced film. Lane sells cattle at a profit, but learns that others are being ripped off , or worse ! Rocky gets an appointment to investigate the shenanigans, and finds that the shysters have friends in high places!

Roy Barcroft, Bob Wilkie, Duncan "Cico Kid" Renaldo and others are showcased as Rocky Lane set things right. This film was not the routine, formula movie that I had expected. Fans of Lane,B-westerns or classic villainy should really enjoy this movie .

Happy Trails !!

Disneyland: The Cherokee Trail
Episode 10, Season 28

Memory Lane on the Cherokee Trail .........
Louis L'Amour was one of the finest and most prolific novelists of the American West. In this TV adaptation of his famous novel, the managers of a stage station reminisce about the adventures encountered on the well-traveled Cherokee Trail.

This film was well-produced, with careful attention to detail. The presence of western favorites Buck Taylor and Richard "Diamond" Farnsworth was great to see. Usually, L'Amour's novels are so richly detailed that they don't always transfer well to the screen. This film does, with good characterization and plotting. I liked it .......

An enjoyable latter day oater !

Frisco Tornado

Rocky Lane busts up a protection racket .....
This 1950 B-western action film features the great Rocky Lane as a Marshal out to bust up an insurance protection racket. The outlaws & insurance men find that Rocky Lane is not a man to be trifled with ! As Lane cleans up the extortion plot, several surprises await the viewer!

Lane's performance here is action-filled and intense. While the story-line was a familiar one, it was pretty well presented. Several western vets appear here, including the wonderful George Chesboro. The plot seemed well-paced and action was plentiful.

Fans of the western programmers of Rocky Lane will enjoy this one -- others may find the film a bit dated by today's standards.

Two Guns and a Badge

Last of the B-Westerns .........
Wayne Morris stars in this interesting B-western from 1954. Morris was a charismatic actor and WWII hero, whose career was limited mostly to B-movies. In this film, he is an outlaw mistaken for a hired gunman, who cleans up a nest of bad-guys and saves the day. He eventually becomes a different kind of man due to his duty and the love of a good woman.

Western veteran Roy Barcroft also appear in this well-paced oater. Morris was a fine actor and worked well in western settings. Fans of the genre should enjoy this one, which was arguably the last of the B-Western flicks. Happy Trails !!

Silver Canyon

Gene and Champ, in glorious Sepiatone !
Gene Autry stars in this 1951 Sepiatone western set in the aftermath of the Civil War. Gene is sent to corral a Confederate grill and runs into a passel of trouble. The great Bob Steele has a great role here as a secret supporter of the out of control grill forces.

Autry was not the greatest actor nor singer in westerns, but he was capable in all areas and always turned out a quality product. This role is well suited to his abilities and he is fun to watch in this oater. Gail Davis was a regular in his films, always turning in a great performance.

A fun, but standard western programmer.

Sunset in El Dorado

Roy, Dale & Gabby remembered ........
This lesser known 1945 Roy Rogers western is actually very good, though it has an off the wall plot. Dale Evans "flashes back" to earlier times while reminiscing about her Grandma. Roy and Gabby are in fine form in this film, completing what was the most entertaining western pairing of the day.

Western vets Roy Barcroft & Tom London are again on board for this film and the Sons of the Pioneers help with the musical interludes. Dale Evans gave one of her best performances in the series, stealing the spotlight in some ways from Roy & Gabby.

An enjoyable, light western saga.

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