Phantom of Santa Fe (January 1, 1937)
Released on January 1, 1937: The Mission of Santa Guadalupe has been robbed of its golden treasures and everyone in the small village of Santa Fe believes that the mysterious bandit called The Hawk is the culprit.
Produced by Ashton Dearholt
Directed by Jacques Jaccard
Written by Charles F. Royal
The Actors: Nina Quartero (Teresa Valardi), Carmelita Geraghty (Lolita), Norman Kerry (Miguel 'Mike' Morago aka The Hawk), Frank Mayo (Steve Gant), Tom O'Brien (henchman Kildane), Jack Mower (Captain Rubio), Monte Montague (henchman), Merrill McCormick (a vaquero), Frank Ellis (Don Carlos Valardi), Charles Brinley (Pedro), Steve Clemente (a vaquero), Ben Corbett (short henchman prisoner), Fernando Valdez (Ramirez)
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The Wife-Swapping Buddies
This Spanish cowboy adventure is not in the mold of the cookie-cutter cowboy movies from this era, but it does have a decent plot, and was filmed in color – a very rare thing in 1937. It is a very pleasant way to spend a quiet afternoon. But the gossip surrounding this movie and its producer are much more interesting! Ashton Dearholt made some money and a bit of fame as a silent cowboy movie star, and by the time talkies came along he had dreams of becoming a famous movie producer. Ashton had a lovely movie star wife Florence Gilbert, and he also had a best friend named Edgar Rice Burroughs, the famous author who created Tarzan the ape man. MGM Studios began licensing the Tarzan character and made a series of movies beginning in 1932 with Johnny Weissmuller. Let’s fast forward to 1934, a pivotal year for both Ashton Dearholt and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and this movie. Edgar Rice Burroughs made no secret of his admiration for his friend Ashton’s beautiful wife, but he was married to another woman. Ashton went on a trip to Guatemala for the RKO movie studios and met a young American swimmer who he instantly fell in lust with. Ashton brought the young woman back to California with him and she became a permanent part of his home. . . . Well . . . You can understand that this didn’t sit too well with his beautiful wife Florence, so she went to his buddies home, Edgar Rice Burroughs for advice and comfort . . . And soon Edgar Rice Burroughs had divorced his wife and married Florence, Ashton’s wife. Now, this was no reason for Ashton and Edgar Rice Burroughs to end their friendship . . . Each of them had the woman of their dreams, after all. Wanna-be producer Ashton was talking to Edgar Rice Burroughs about his Tarzan movies that were doing quite well at the theaters, and Burroughs was complaining that he didn’t like the way Tarzan was translated from his books to the big screen, so Ashton convinced Edgar Rice Burroughs to let him do a Tarzan movie. Ashton was broke, so Edgar Rice Burroughs financed the venture, and Ashton took his girlfriend back to Guatemala where they had met and tried to film a Tarzan movie there, with his girlfriend as the leading lady opposite Bruce Bennett as Tarzan. Well, two things would damn that Tarzan movie when it was released. . . . First, it was directed and filmed without the camera, lighting and framing style that was common, thanks to the production inexperience of Ashton. . . . It also didn’t help Tarzan and the Green Goddess at theaters when giant MGM studios warned theaters across the nation that if they showed Ashton’s version of Tarzan, they would never again get an MGM movie in their theaters. . . . The gorilla in the room, MGM, made their Tarzan the only ape man that America would learn to love. . . . In hindsight after seeing both versions, it was probably good that they did. Anyway, after making this movie and the Tarzan movie, Ashton and his girlfriend split up, and later Edgar Rice Burroughs and Florence would get a divorce. . . . And the friendship between Ashton Dearholt and Edgar Rice Burroughs continued as strong as ever until Ashton’s death in 1942. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Carmelita Geraghty and Tom O'Brien
Frank Mayo and Tom O'Brien
Jack Mower and Frank Mayo
Norman Kerry and Frank Mayo