Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Red Ryder and Little Beaver Double Feature Vol 7|
In our first feature, The Great Stagecoach Robbery (1945), Red Ryder hopes his attempt at being a good role model will keep a young man, who idolizes his outlaw father, from following in the wrong footsteps. In the seco... more »
I'm a Peaceable Man !
peterfromkanata | Kanata, Ontario Canada | 02/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"From the 30s to the early 50s, a number of Hollywood studios turned out hour-long "B" westerns for kids going to Saturday matinee shows at the local theatre. No studio was more active than Republic Pictures, and adapting comic strip hero, Red Ryder, and his young Native American sidekick, Little Beaver, for the silver screen was inevitable.
During the 40s, four actors played Red Ryder, at different times--Donald "Red" Barry ( only in the serial ), Allan Lane, William "Wild Bill" Elliott and Jim Bannon.
For this fan at least, Elliott was the best. In fairness, Allan Lane soon made another series for Republic as "Rocky" Lane which was terrific. While he did not resemble the comic-book character, Wild Bill seemed a natural as Red Ryder--he was an excellent horseman, fine in action scenes, tough when necessary, humourous on occasion and had a good rapport with Little Beaver, played by Bobby Blake. Yes indeed--Bobby did grow up to be actor Robert Blake !
By the way, "I'm a peaceable man" was Elliott's catch-phrase--usually just before some bad guy got pounded all over a saloon !
These movies were tightly-plotted, well-acted by Republic's stable of contract players, and provided audiences with plenty of high-speed, hard-hitting, cliff-hanging action. The two Red Ryder features on this disc ( Volume 7 ) were made in 1945, and are :--
Great Stagecoach Robbery. An old outlaw ( Francis MacDonald ) is released from jail after serving five years for robbery. Wanting to "go straight", he wishes to return the stolen money to the rightful owners, but his old gang-mates have much less honourable ideas. To increase the pressure on the old man, they have recruited his hot-headed son ( John James ) to help them. The irony here is that the one man who can help him is the man who sent him to jail in the first place--Red Ryder.
Phantom of the Plains. Red and Beaver arrive in town to find that Red's aunt--the Duchess ( series regular Alice Fleming )--has been swept off her feet by an "English lord", and is planning to marry him and run off to his castle in England. Of course, she is selling her possessions so that she can take all her money to enjoy life "at court" in London. Red soon realises that this "lord" ( Ian Keith, in a wonderful, hammy, evil performance )is a phony, as is his "French maid" ( Virginia Christine ). Two local thugs ( William Haade and Bud Geary ) soon recognize his "lordship" as "Fancy Charlie",an American confidence trickster, who likes to "carve up widows for their dough"--they want a "slice of the pie". The Duchess will not listen to Red's suspicions, and, of course, he and Little Beaver have to come to the rescue. The second half of "Phantom" is one of the most exciting in the history of "B" westerns.
Considering the price, I found the quality of the full-screen, black and white image, to be lacking--there are a lot of "speckles", a few scene jumps and general wear and tear. The films are still very watchable though.
Notwithstanding the picture quality, the Red Ryder movies with Bill Elliott were among the most entertaining "B" westerns ever produced. He made 16 in all. If you are nostalgic for a time when children's films were innocent fun, but still created a lot of excitement, saddle up with Red and Little Beaver--I think you'll enjoy the ride !"