Friday, 11 April 2014

Lawless Range (1935)

John Wayne churned out eight pictures in 1935, and in all of them his character's name was also John.  At least he wasn't likely to forget it!  If this makes the films all sound rather interchangeable ... well, they were.

This time, Wayne plays John Middleton, who is really super-duper fast at tying a steer, and sure to win big at the state fair.  His steer-tying days are numbered however, at least in this film, as his father has a letter from his old friend Hank, asking for help.  Since John's dad currently has his leg in plaster, it's up to John to ride out and see what's what.

Alas, virtue in the west is a hard road, and John walks straight into a robbery.  He stops the crooks, but gets arrested as an accomplice!  It turns out the Sheriff is less crazy than he looks, as he wants John to pretend to be an outlaw for him, and the arrest was cover for that.  John agrees, and is sent off to try and infiltrate a gang that's been hassling the local ranchers.

This attempt doesn't get very far, and the gang chases John onto Hank's ranch, where gosh darn it wouldn't you know he runs into Hank's pretty young niece?  He holds off the gang while she rides for help, but in the mean time a posse turns up, driving off the gang and arresting John again.  They're prevented from stringing him up by the niece, who he then woos by playing a guitar and singing in a dubbed voice.  Three things this film is big on: horses, fightin', and singin'.  There'll be plenty more of all three before the less-than-55-minutes of this movie are exhausted.

There'll also be plenty more double crosses, misunderstandings, and fortuitous circumstances to get us to our requisite happy ending, but the details aren't sufficiently interesting to worry about.  Suffice it to say that Wayne beats the baddies and gets the girl, probably in much the same manner the other seven Johns be played this year also did.

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