Tuesday, 12 November 2013
The Desert Trail (1935)
Like most of the low budget films John Wayne made in the lean years before his breakout success in Stagecoach, The Desert Trail is a pretty slight film, though it rollicks along just fine for its slender 55 minute run time.
Wayne is a rodeo rider, en route to a new event with a companion. The two men share a rivalry as well as a friendship: the film will see them regularly squabble and try to one-up each other, especially if a woman is in the picture. These add a comic element to the film which generally work quite well: I especially liked some of the more subtle sight gags.
Wayne and his associate squabble over a woman, get framed for murder, escape, squabble over another woman, get framed for a stagecoach robbery (by the same men that framed them for murder), escape again, and ultimately have their names cleared when one of the real crooks has an attack of conscience. Wayne, of course, wins the battle over the (second) woman.
This is formulaic, mass-produced stuff, and very clearly a B-picture. It's very much a supporting act, not a film that would headline a bill and actually attract the crowds. Still, it's a lively film that does not outstay its welcome, which puts it a cut above the average for this sort of thing.