Good old Monogram
An early talkie starring dashing Rex Bell, this fun picture is a gangster-versus-cowboy yarn and of course the cowboys come out on top. The first third of the 51-minute flick is set in New York where Breezy Kildare is a cop battling gangland boss Butch Owens - Robert Ellis with splendidly caddish thin mustache. Having been hit in a shoot-out at a night club, Breezy goes back to a ranch 20 miles from Cheyenne to recuperate, only to find that Butch has moved to Wyoming too, the DA having run him out of town, and is forcing a protection racket on the local cattlemen. So Breezy rides into action aided by his cowboys, led by foreman Gabby Hayes (as George Hays) with walrus mustache and known as, er, Walrus.
The gangsters machine-gun cattle (rather like Baby Face Nelson in O Brother, Where Art Thou?). The saloon is a ‘soft drink emporium’ (it was the penultimate year of prohibition) where, horror of horrors, saloon owner Joe Carter (Matthew Betz) is selling real beer. He’ll go down again for sure. There’s a great bit where Gabby shoots the hats off four gangsters. There are some classic lines, such as Rex telling Butch, “This Cheyenne country isn’t big enough to hold you and me!” (He sadly eschews the customary ain’t). Later he chases the gangsters and tells the cowboys that he will “head ‘em off at the rocks”, which is nearly the pass.
Rex and Marcelline
The acting is lousy and the (uncredited) music is worse but it’s photographed by Monogram stalwart Archie Stout, one of 24 films he did in 1932, many of them Westerns. He was to go on to do classy work like Fort Apache and Hondo, so we’re talking talent here. And it races along with lots of action.
There is the cheapest car crash ever staged.
At the end Rex lassos the gangster’s machine gun and sprays ‘em with it. Then he beats up Butch and tells him, “There’s no lawyers here to pull a habeas corpus”. That’s the West for you. The cowboys haul off Butch to hang him but (hope I’m not spoiling here) Butch gets his gun and shoots himself. Rex calls him yellow for not facing up to the lynching, which does seem a little harsh.
Oh, I forgot, there’s a girl. Marcelline Day is Ruth. Rex thinks she is Butch’s moll but of course she really loves Rex. She steals a horse, hitches up her long skirt daringly, leaps into the saddle and rides off to warn Rex that the gangsters are coming. It all ends in kisses.
The goodies ride horses and the baddies drive a car, which is only right and proper.
You probably need to see this movie.