Knight of the Plains (May 7, 1938)
Released on May 7, 1938: (running time 57 minutes) An outlaw businessman cons a tenderfoot investor from the East into running the hard working ranchers off of their land.
Produced by Jed Buell
Directed by Sam Newfield
Written by Fred Myton
The Actors: Fred Scott (Fred), Al St. John (Fuzzy), Marion Weldon (Gale Rand), John Merton (Carson, aka Pedro de Cordoba), Richard Cramer (Clem Peterson), Frank LaRue (J.C. Rand, Gale's father), Lafe McKee (John Lane), Emma Tansey (Martha Lane), Steve Clark (Sheriff Dykes), Jimmy Aubrey (henchman), James Sheridan (henchman), Budd Buster (henchman Manuel), Bob Burns (rancher), Jack Evans (henchman), Olin Francis (rancher), Cactus Mack (rancher), Carl Mathews (henchman), George Morrell (elder rancher), Tex Palmer (rancher)
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What's Wrong with this Western?
If you watch many of the cowboy westerns from the golden age of cowboys in the 1930's and 1940's you know that there is a formula for the popular cowboy adventures that every movie studio followed. There are certain things that every cowboy movie must have, and we get very comfortable watching the show if we see the elements that we expect.
The first thing a successful cowboy movie must have is a ramrod straight, fast shooting, fist fighting good guy, and Fred Scott, while never becoming as famous as some of the other cowboy heroes, fills this spot. Almost all cowboy heroes have a side-kick that provides a bit of comedy relief, and Al St. John was a familiar fuzzy funny side kick . . . but there is something unique and different in this movie . . . if I can only figure it out.
Every good cowboy movie must have a young sweet girl for the hero to save, and Marion Weldon fills the bill for the lovely eye-candy. Of course without the bad guy there is no one to make the good guy look good, and this story has a couple of decent villains, played by John Merton and Richard Cramer. No, it isn't the cast that is a notch off center . . . it is something else . . . If I could only figure out what hits my brain a little different.
Wait a minute . . . I think I have it, by Jove . . . The added story element that I've never seen in a cowboy western before is . . . Stand-Up Comedy! Yes, honest to goodness stand-up comedy lines . . . Like the one-liner that heroine Gale Rand gives us about ‘every man to his own taste’ in the very first scene . . . and then funny side-kick fuzzy lands face first in a pie . . . a pie in the face isn't your normal cowboy comedy relief
If you watch closely you will be able to pick out plot lines that are just a touch different than any western movie of the day . . . very close to variety show comedy sketches . . . . Where could these have come from? Director Sam Newfield, with over 200 cowboy movies to his credit never had comedy like this in his stories, so it couldn't have come from him . . . The listed producer Jed Buell doesn't have a comedy background with stand-up comedy sketches, so it couldn't have been his influence.
Ahhhh . . . did you notice the first screen with the title of the movie? Look up at the movie still on the screen and you'll spot it at the bottom right . . . A Stan Laurel Production! Yes, the legendary funny man from the Laurel and Hardy comedy team started a motion picture production company that only made three pictures, all cowboy adventures, and this is the middle one of the three. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the comedy.
Al St. John and Fred Scott
Al St. John and Marion Weldon
Emma Tansey and Lafe McKee
Emma Tansey plays the organ for Fred Scott
Emma Tansey and Fred Scott
Frank LaRue and Marion Weldon
Frank LaRue, Richard Cramer and John Merton
Frank La Rue, Steve Clark and Richard Cramer
Fred Scott in 1938
Fred Scott and Al St. John
Fred Scott, Al St. John, Emma Tansey and Lafe McKee
Fred Scott and Al St. John
Fred Scott, Frank LaRue and Marion Weldon
Fred Scott faces Richard Cramer
John Merton and Marion Weldon
John Merton and Richard Cramer
Lafe McKee and Emma Tansey
Lafe McKee, Emma Tansey and Fred Scott
Marion Weldon peeks in the window
Marion Weldon, Fred Scott and Al St. John
Marion Weldon and John Merton
Fred Scott and Marion Weldon
Richard Cramer and Frank La Rue
Richard Cramer, John Merton and Frank LaRue