West of the Badlands (The Border Legion) (December 15, 1940)
Released on December 5, 1940: A wonderfully rich Zane Grey story about an Easterner that is wanted by the law who finds his way to the badlands of Idaho, where he joins an outlaw gang known as The Border Legion.
Directed by Joseph Kane
Written by Zane Grey with screenplay by George Carleton Brown, Olive Cooper and Louis Stevens.
The Actors: Roy Rogers (Doctor Stephen Kellogg, aka Steve Kells), George 'Gabby' Hayes (Honest John Whittaker), Carol Hughes (Alice Randall), Joe Sawyer (Jim Gulden), Maude Eburne (Hurricane Hattie McGuire), Jay Novello (henchman Santos), Hal Taliaferro (Sheriff Amos Link), Dick Wessel (henchman Oscar 'Red' McGooney), Paul Porcasi (Tony), Robert Emmett Keane (Officer Willets), Eddie Acuff (ticket agent), Chuck Baldra (townsman), Ed Brady (gambler), Fred Burns (miner), Bob Card (townsman), Spade Cooley (musician), Victor Cox (barfly), Art Dillard (saloon patron), Curley Dresden (miner), Joel Friedkin (card player Gus), Chick Hannan (henchman), Lew Kelly (miner), Jack Kirk (stage driver Jack), Cactus Mack (henchman), Ted Mapes (miner), Leo J. McMahon (barfly), Art Mix (henchman), Monte Montague (henchman Joe), Jack Montgomery (henchman), Post Park (henchman), Edward Peil Sr. (barfly), Pascale Perry (Hattie's bouncer, Hank), Henry Wills (miner), Bob Woodward (henchman).
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What do you get when you combine Roy Rogers, the most famous cowboy of the golden age of movies with a rich, well developed plot from the master story teller of the wild west, Zane Grey? One darn good rootin-tootin cowboy western adventure that will keep you entertained royally as you empty your big bowl of hot buttered white kernel popcorn!
Our movie opens with a look at Roy's usual side-kick in his movies, Gabby Hayes, who is hiding in a barrel on the back of a speeding wagon. It hits a big bump, and the barell, with Gabby inside, falls off of the wagon and rolls down a large hill until it breaks apart hitting a tree. Roy comes riding along at just that time, and they meet, and Roy gives Gabby a ride into the nearby town. In town we meet Hurricane Hattie McGuire, who shows us that men are definately the inferior sex. She runs the local saloon and gambling joint with an iron fist and a fast trigger finger, and no one gets anything past Hurricane Hattie. During the rest of this adventure, Hurricane Hattie and Gabby Hayes combine to provide some excellent comedy relief. Soon the stage arrives with a woman who was shot when the stage was held up by the infamous Border Legion, a band of outlaws that runs rampant through these parts. Hattie orders them to bring the girl into the saloon, and then orders Steve Kells (Roy Rogers), to tend to her. It turns out that Hattie has a piece cut out of the local paper with Steve's picture in it, explaining that he is a doctor from Albany, New York that is wanted but the authorities and he is on the run. When Steve tends to the girl who was shot, he discovers that it is his girlfriend from back east, who has followed him in an effort to get him to turn himself in. Steve is innocent, but the real culprit is the girl's brother, and Steve doesn't want to rat out on her brother, so he lets everyone believe that he is a bad guy.
Now some of the Border Legion are in the saloon drinking and observe that Steve is a doctor, and they later kidnap Steve so that he can tend to a bad leg that their boss has. Steve infiltrates the gang, and then tells the sheriff that he will stay with the gang and lead them into an ambush so that the sheriff and the town can capture the gang. But there is double cross and triple cross in the plan, and Steve may get killed, and the town may get ambushed instead of the other way around. Ahh, but this is Saturday Afternoon Cowboy time for the children that are spending their day at the theater, and we all know that the good guys must win in the end, even in Zane Grey stories. But the excitement and adventure of the trail towards the happy ending are mighty full of danger, fistfights and gunfights, and we will enjoy this journey as we watch our old cowboy friends battle evil in the lawless frontier of the west.