Good for what ails you
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 05/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Paradise Canyon isn't one of John Wayne's more memorable early westerns, but it is something of a hoot to watch. In this film, Wayne plays a lawman who goes to work undercover with a traveling medicine show in an effort to catch a gang of counterfeiters along the Mexican border. The good doctor, whose fabulous Indian elixir is 90% alcohol, served time for counterfeiting a few years earlier when his "partner" turned states' evidence and set him up for the fall, so Wayne's character starts his investigation there. Yakima Canutt plays the bad guy, and Marion Burns fills the role of Dr. Carter's daughter. There's not as much riding, shooting, and fisticuffs as you normally find in these old Lone Star Productions films, but Paradise Canyon does feature a vintage medicine show with singing, sharp-shooting, and ardent hawking of Dr. Carter's Indian Remedy, good for anything that ails you. There's plenty here for John Wayne fans to enjoy, but Paradise Canyon is by no means his best early picture."
Teresa Anson | Michigan, USA | 12/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The last of Wayne's Lone Star Pictures series, Guns Along the Trail is the colorized version of Paradise Canyon starring the then-young actor during the formative years of his career. Featuring one of the Western genre's most original plots, John (played by John) is an undercover G-Man tagging along with a traveling "medicine show" that's really selling 90-proof moonshine. Add in famed stuntman and Wayne cohort Yakima Canutt as the adorably titled villain and a pack of Mexican Mounties, and you have the ingredients for a uniquely entertaining departure from the typical Lone Star (fight scene, fight scene, fight scene) formula.
The film's new color, being the headline feature of this package, is notable precisely because it is forgettable. By this I mean that it doesn't distract from the events on-screen like so many previous attempts at the process did. This is a true triumph of technology--to completely re-master a classic film, yet to make the changes natural and unnoticeable. Frankly, we couldn't ask for more. But, for you stodgy fuddy-duddies, the black and white version is also included on this disc--making this essentially a two for one, given the distinctness of each experience."
The last of John Wayne's early westerns for Lone Star
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/21/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Paradise Canyon" is the last of the sixteen B Westerns that a young John Wayne made for poverty row studio Monogram's Lone Star division between 1933 and 1935. Directed by Carl Pierson, the first of three cheap Westerns the long time film editor directed, you need to know right from the start that they did not save the best for last in this series despite the promise of the tagline: "The fight at Robber's Roost...It Teems With Action!" But Wayne did well enough to move on after this one to Republic Pictures, where eventually he would encounter John Ford, make "Stagecoach," and become the iconic actor of the American western film genre.Once again John Wayne is playing an undercover good guy, this time named John Wyatt who joins the medicine show of Doc Carter (Earle Hodgins) as a sharpshooter in an effort to find some counterfeiters along the Mexican border in Arizona (It it just me or does counterfeiting sound overly ambitious for the Wild West? How many opportunities are there to find change for a fake $100, $20 or whatever in these towns?). Wyatt is suspicious of the Doc but it turns out the bad guy is really Curly Joe Gale (legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt), who is not only the counterfeiter but also found time in his criminal past to frame Curly Joe (it is a decidedly small world in these Westerns). This is helpful because Wyatt has taken a liking to Doc's daughter, Linda (Marion Burns), billed as Princess Natasha in Wyatt's shooting act. If you have been following the Lone Star series there are really few surprises here in terms of the plot. If you can frame one person for counterfeiting you can frame another person. The twist on this one is that the Duke's character has to cross the border to pursue Curly Joe and rescue Doc and Linda. Not surprisingly, our hero has as many problems with law enforcement south of the border as he does on this side. Then there is the question of why a story about counterfeiting with a canyon in the title ends up having the climax in an old mine. "Paradise Canyon" also has the diversion of Perry Murdock and Gordon Clifford singing as the Texas Two, but that is not really enough to get this one up to the level of being an average Lone Star oater. I would not recommend that a John Wayne fan endure all sixteen of these early efforts, but the first dozen or so did have not only the Duke and Canutt but George "Gabby" Hayes, which always helps."