Shadows of Death (April 19, 1945)
Released on April 19, 1945: It is a bad day in Red Rock, because the railroad is coming through town, and the outlaws want to control the land it will be built on.
Directed by Sam Newfield
Written by Fred Myton.
The Actors: Buster Crabbe (Billy Carson), Al St. John (Fuzzy Q. Jones), Dona Dax (Babs Darcy), Charles King (Steve Landreau), Karl Hackett (Dave Hanley), Eddie Hall (Clay Kincaid), Frank Ellis (henchman Frisco), John L. Cason (henchman Butch), Jimmy Aubrey (town drunk), Jack Baxley (Sheriff), Buster Brodie (bald man getting haircut), Budd Buster (man getting beard trimmed), Rube Dalroy (townsman), Art Dillard (poker player), Jack Evans (checkers player), Herman Hack (barfly), Jack Hendricks (townsman), Emmett Lynn (old timer in bathtub), Frank McCarroll (henchman), Lew Morphy (poker player), George Morrell (townsman), Bud Osborne (man getting shave), Lew Porter (gambler), Wally West (deputy).
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Well, until I added this movie to my web site, I have never labelled a cowboy western movie as a comedy, but this one has more laughs than a lot of comedies, along with the pistol shooting, fist fighting action. The comedy comes from silent screen star Al St. John, a veteran of Charlie Chaplin movies. Along with Al 'Fuzzy' St. John we will enjoy Olympic star swimmer Buster Crabbe, heart-throb of movies in the 1930's and 1940's.
Fuzzy Q. Jones is Sheriff of Red Rock. He is also the barber, the Justice of the Peace, and if you want a hot bath in one of those new-fangled iron things called a 'bath tub' - Fuzzy is the man to see. In the beginning he saves an old coot from drowning in his tub and telling him, "These bathtubs are tricky things till ya get used to them." One day his old friend Billy Carson comes to town to see him. It turns out that the railroad is going to be built right through Red Rock, and the railroad wants Billy to go there and purchase the land it needs from the local ranchers. Billy declines, and when the man heading to Red Rock to do the buying for the railroad is murdered, Billy thinks he can find the killer in Red Rock. About this time Steve Landreau hits town with his henchmen and opens a gambling joint in Red Rock. He tries to buy rancher Kincaid's ranch, because he knows it is where the railroad will be coming through. When Kincaid won't sell, he gets Kincaid to gamble in his joint and lose enough so that Kincaid will need to sign over his ranch to the bad guys in order to pay off his gambling debts. Billy Carson works his cowboy talents to find the killer, save Kincaid's ranch, and win the heart of ranch girl Babs Darcy between the laughs provided by Al 'Fuzzy' St. John.
Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter and enjoy the belly laughs along with tough cowboy justice in this 1945 comedy cowboy adventure.