WEIRD EARLY WESTERN TALKIE!!!
Richard J. Oravitz | 12/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Saying that UNDER TEXAS SKIES (1930) is a weird Western is indeed an understatement.Cowboy Star Bill Cody, on his way to buy cavalry mounts for the government from Natalie Kingston, is captured by the badguys and thrown into a shack guarded by a mute brute called "DUMMY". Tom London takes his place as Captain Hartford in an effort to swindle Kingston out of the horses. Cowboy Star Bob Custer shows up as Rankin a suspicious character suspicious of London's ploy. Kingston suspects Custer and signs with London. Cowboy Star Lane Chandler shows up 30 minutes into the plot looking for Cody who has by now been tossed around several times by hulking DUMMY. There's also something about twin pinto horses and we're never really sure who knows who or what exactly is going on. Done on a fifty dollar budget there's lots of neat "camera in your face" shots especially of slobbering DUMMY dragging around Bill Cody. It all doesn't make much sense but I'm not sure if it's because the movie is under or over plotted. It all looks like a home movie of sorts but is rather fascinating to watch. Some shots are out of focus, some are visually stunning. Tom London gives the best performance here with lots of dialog. Bob Custer stands around looking about as confused as I was watching this. Natalie Kingston (TARZAN THE TIGER, silent serial)appears as ditzy as Lane Chandler appears confident, in his sharp suit singing to himself as he ties up gang members. And Bill Cody spends most of his screen time being knocked out or dragged around by DUMMY, played by one Bill Roper who appears to be playing himself. I heavily recommend this strangeness to all takers. It's directed by prolific B-Western actor/director J.P. McGowan...
...as was the second Bob Custer feature on this ALPHA dvd, RIDERS OF THE NORTH (1931), made a year later with none of the weirdness that oozed from UNDER TEXAS SKIES. This rather routine tale has Mountie Sergeant Stone (Custer) after the killers of a fellow mountie. His girlfriend's brother thinks he's the killer but it's really the evil French Canadian trapper LeClerc. Enjoyable but uneventful. And the print for Riders OF THE NORTH is watchable but not as nice as UNDER TEXAS SKIES.
This is really a pretty good double feature to pick up. I was more than pleased watching these two J.P. McGowan directed Bob Custer B-Westerns. A very good buy for fans."