The Law of Contact

Last of the Warrens (May 10, 1936)

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Bob Steele in Last of the Warrens

Released May 10, 1936: While Ted Warren is a fighter pilot in WWI, his friend back home steals his ranch, his cattle, and his girl.

Directed by Robert N. Bradbury

The Actors: Bob Steele (Ted Warren), Margaret Marquis (Mary Burns), Charles King (Kent), Horace Murphy (Grizzly), Lafe McKee (Sheriff Bates), Charles K. French (Bruce Warren), Blackie Whiteford (Slip Gerns), Steve Clark (henchman Spike), Chuck Baldra (henchman), Frank Ball (Jake the livery stable owner), Horace B. Carpenter (doctor), Jim Corey (henchman), Art Dillard (henchman), and Helen Gibson (Mrs. Burns), Herman Hack (henchman), Julian Madison (hospital patient), George Morrell (bartender), Tex Palmer (henchman).

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I've got to tell you, I enjoyed this cowboy tale as much as any that I've watched so far. I wasn't alive in the days that this motion picture was filmed, but I have a suspicion that the way this story plays out is more realistic than most of the cowboy movies of the period. The conversation is slow and easy, much as I remember growing up in the country. It is amazing how much faster people talk that live in cities, and when I go back to the small town I lived in as a teen, I am surprised at how slow and relaxed the atmosphere is. Get your popcorn and grab a soda and sit down to one outstanding story.

Bob Steele plays the part of Ted Warren, son of a country rancher that goes off to fight in WWI as a fighter pilot in one of the new airplanes that have just been invented. The movie opens with a battle scene in the sky, planes flying against each other in battle. Next we see Ted in an army hospital, recovering from a wound. When the nurse gives some mail to the fellow in the next bed, Ted asks if there is any mail for him, but the nurse tells him that there is no mail for him. Ted says that it is strange that he has written to everyone back home just about every week, and has never gotten a letter back from anyone. The nurse tells him not to worry, he will soon be heading home and all will be well.

In the next scene we see Kent in his WWI soldier uniform walking down a dusty road towards home. A stranger is riding past, and tells him that it is still a few miles to town, and would he like a ride. Ted gets on his horse with him and rides into town. Once in town, the folks cannot believe that he is Ted. It seems that the whole town believes that Ted was shot down in the war and died on the battlefield. Suspicion soon turns to Kent, the postmaster. We soon learn that Kent has kept all of Ted's letters from being delivered, rustled all of the cattle from his dad's ranch, took over the ranch when his dad couln't pay the mortgage, and is trying to get Ted's best girl to marry him. But even though suspicions point to Kent, without any evidence it is only talk. When Kent discovers that Ted has returned, he first tries to get Mary to become his wife before she finds out that Ted has returned, but Mary refuses. Next he goes out to the ranch, where Ted's dad has been given a job after Kent took over his ranch. He wastes no time, and shoots Ted's dad, explaining that Kent is not his real name, and that all of his actions are to pay back the Warrens for an old feud back east in the mountains when their families were neighbors. After shooting dad, he rolls him up in a carpet and takes him out in the woods and buries him in a pile of leaves.

The action flows fast and furious from here on out, and I'll leave you to enjoy it as it unfolds, and Kent, one of the dirtiest, low-down scoundrels that there ever was, gets his just rewards.