Rex rides again
Another of the six Westerns starring Rex Bell that Colony Pictures put out in 1936 was Law and Lead. It was directed by Robert F Hill (billed as Bob Hill) again and in fact was a remake of one he had done only two years earlier starring Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Cowboy Holiday. It concerns a stockmen’s detective named Sawyer who investigates the supposed banditry of his pal, The Juarez Kid.
Of course Rex rides his big white horse Sheik and wears his ten-gallon hat. In his turned-up jeans he does look a bit like John Wayne in the 1930s and indeed, the picture could easily have been one of those Mascot/Monogram movies directed by RN Bradbury and shot by Archie Stout.
Earl Dwire is there again, but not as the villain; rather, as the rancher dad of the girl, Hope (Harley Wood). He has exactly the same costume as in the others, though he has to wear a head bandage throughout, having being shot by the Kid. His daughter thinks he is the Kid, which given his age (53) is a bit steep.
The great Earl Dwire
The villain, the real fake-Kid, who desires Hope, is Steve (Hal Taliaferro, silent Western star who became a talkie character actor). His voice sounds a bit like Ben Johnson’s, though that’s where the resemblance ends. The real kid is a dashing, Zorro-esque Donald Reed (a Mexican, Ernesto Avila Guillen). He has a sinister mother, in on the plot (Soledad Jiménez).
A clip (Sheik and Rex crashing to the ground) was re-used from Idaho Kid of the same year. There is a horrible four-horse fall when Rex ties a rope across a canyon to de-horse the bad guys. I wish they hadn’t done that.
The real star is a mutt, Friday, who looks a bit like my dog, Fido, though not, of course, quite so intelligent.
The two heroes of the picture
To be brutally frank, much as I like Rex Bell Westerns, this one is a tad dull. Still, it does have Rex, Earl Dwire and a mutt.
Rex in full flight