Randy Rides Alone (June 18, 1934)
Released June 18, 1934: Randy is accused of robbery and murder, and with the help of Sally Rogers must find the real culprits to clear himself.
Produced by Paul Malvern
Directed by Harry L. Fraser
Written by Lindsley Parsons
The Actors: John Wayne (Randy Bowers), Alberta Vaughn (Sally Rogers), George 'Gabby' Hayes (Matt Mathews, the mute), Yakima Canutt (henchman Spike), Earl Dwire (Sheriff), Artie Ortego (Deputy Al), Tex Phelps (the deputy), Horace B. Carpenter (E.D. 'Ed' Rogers), Tommy Coats (Joe the kidnapper), Herman Hack (posse rider / henchman), Perry Murdock (kidnapper Slim), Tex Palmer (henchman), Mack V. Wright (deputy)
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The Cowboy Stranger and the Outlaw Who Wouldn't Talk
Gabby Hayes became famous for his portrayal of a talkative good-natured, bearded side-kick. He created this character firs in Hopalong Cassidy movies where he was called Windy Halliday. When he demanded and didn’t get a big raise, the Hopalong Cassidy folk let him find work elsewhere, and he took his bearded comic character to other cowboy movies. He legally could not use the ‘Windy’ name in non-Hopalong Cassidy movies, so he became ‘Gabby’ Hayes for the rest of his career.
But let me go back even further. Hayes was a successful Vaudeville star along with his wife and retired at the age of 40 with plenty of money. When the stock market crashed and the Great Depression hit in 1929, most of his wealth disappeared. Instead of returning to the Vaudeville stage, he headed to Hollywood and started to build a successful career in movies.
This cowboy adventure was produced in 1934, before the Hopalong Cassidy movies where he created the talkative good-hearted fool character. Right up to the ending scene in this adventure, I could not recognize him without his scraggly beard, and wondered if the credits were wrong, because there were so many foolish errors in this story.
Gabby is not talkative in this story, but is a mute – Kinda cool, considering his future characters. But the sign on his merchandise store is for ‘Mat Mathews’ and he signs his notes as Matt the Mute, with two t’s in his first name. No matter, but then if you look at the sign above the half-way house closely in the opening scene, you will also see that it proclaims the owner as ‘E.D. Rogers’ and he is called Ed Rogers. Of course, it could be that he was Ed D. Rogers, but I doubt it.
Those little errors are fun to find, but the biggest ‘error’ in the movie became almost intolerable for me, although you might not even notice it. In the early John Wayne movies there was never any background music. Sure, the music that was playing as the title and opening credits roll at the beginning of the show was put there by the producer, and the music coming out of the player piano in the Half Way House was in the original film, but then it got creepy for me. Someone added background music that was so obviously from the 1970’s or 1980’s that it almost ruined the story for me. I imagine that the copy I obtained was ‘improved’ with trumpets and other background music for a television audience, but if you enjoy the old movies just as they were when they were released, this one misses the mark completely.
Thank goodness there was a great story with a notable cast, including some rare close-up shots of Yakima Canutt, John Wayne’s best friend for all of their lives. And the ending . . . . I promise you . . . It’s a Real Blast! Just wait and see! Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Earl Dwire and John Wayne
Gabby Hayes and Alberta Vaughn
George 'Gabby' Hayes
John Wayne, Gabby Hayes and Yakima Canutt
John Wayne and Yakima Canutt
John Wayne and Yakima Canutt
Perry Murdock, Alberta Vaughn and Tex Palmer
Tex Palmer, Alberta Vaughn and Gabby Hayes
Yakima Canutt and Gabby Hayes