A Movie A Day #53: Ghost Town Renegades (1947, directed by Ray Taylor)

gtrWhen a federal surveyor disappears while checking out the ghost town of Waterhole, the U.S. Marshall sends Cheyenne Davis (Lash La Rue) and Fuzzy Jones (Al “Fuzzy” St. John) to investigate.  It turns out that gold has been discovered around Waterhole, on land owned by the Trent Family.  Bad guy Vance Sharpe (Jack Ingram) is trying to kill the last remaining Trents — Rodney (Steve Frost) and his daughter, Diane (Jennifer Holt) — so that he can claim the land as his own.  As Cheyenne and Fuzzy investigate, there are plenty of shootouts, fist fights, and an out of control stagecoach.  Since this is a Lash LaRue film, there is also a lot of exciting bullwhip action.

If you’re like me, the name Lash La Rue immediately makes you think of Pulp Fiction and Harvey Keitel asking John Travolta, “What about you, Lash La Rue, can you keep your spurs from jingling and jangling?”  But, long before Quentin Tarantino ever came up with that line of dialogue, Lash La Rue was a legitimate Western star, starring in several B-westerns in the 1940s and 50s.  What set Lash apart from other western stars was that he looked like he could have been Humphrey Bogart’s younger brother, he always wore black, and he often used a bullwhip instead of a gun.  In fact, when Harrison Ford needed someone to train him how to use a bullwhip for Raiders of the Lost Ark, 65 year-old Lash La Rue was the man that they called.

I have read that Ghost Town Renegades is considered to be the best of La Rue’s movies.  I haven’t seen enough of them to say whether it’s the best but Ghost Town Renegades is an entertaining and fast-paced B-western.  Lash La Rue is good with a whip, Jennifer Holt is beautiful, and not even the broad comedy of Fuzzy St. John detracts.

Interesting to note: Jennifer Holt, who co-starred in several of La Rue’s movies, was the daughter of Jack Holt and the sister of Tim Holt, both of whom were prominent western stars themselves.

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