Thursday, 24 October 2013
The Trail Beyond (1934)
The first 8 minutes of The Trail Beyond feature enough exposition for an entire film, plus a shooting, a fistfight, and a lost treasure map. That kind of pace is necessary when your film only runs 54 minutes, and most of the last 10 are horse chases.
After the financial failure of his "big picture" (the similarly named The Big Trail), Wayne spent almost the whole of the 30s making "poverty row" westerns like this one. He himself estimated he appeared in some eighty such pictures, or roughly one every six weeks, until a little film by the name of Stagecoach catapulted him to stardom.
The Trail Beyond is not going to catapult anyone to stardom, or to anything more than a small pay cheque, really. But it's a competently-enough put together little film for the main part. There's a bit too much reliance on telling, rather than showing, and characters sometimes act more in the interests of the plot than common sense, but it breezes along fast enough that this mostly doesn't matter.
So anyway, Wayne punches and shoots bad guys, gets the girl, and saves the day. It's pretty much exactly the movie you'd expect, though in a nice variation from the norm, the (few) native American characters in the film are good guys.
There's nothing really wrong with this film, but it also doesn't have much that makes it stand out from the dozens of similar low-budget westerns made in the period.