Across The Plains (1939, directed by Spencer Gordon Bennett)

In the old west, a group of outlaws attack a wagon train, killing a husband and wife but sparing their two children.  One child is taken by the outlaws, who tell him that they have saved him from an Indian attack.  He grows up to be The Kansas Kid (Dennis Moore), a wagon master who still works for Gordon (Bob Card), the outlaw who raised him.  The other child is adopted by a Native tribe and grows up to be known as Cherokee (Jack Randall).  Cherokee has been hired to protect a gold shipment that Kansas and Gordon are determined to steal.  How long until the brothers come into conflict?

Across The Plains is a pretty good programmer.  Dennis Moore and Jack Randall are convincing as two men on opposite sides of the law who don’t realize that they’re brothers and director Spencer Gordon Bennett captures the scenery of the old west.  This is a western where the frontier really feels and looks like an untouched frontier!  The gunfights are effectively choreographed and directed and the family aspect is a good spin on a simple story.  For fans of westerns, Across The Plains is an enjoyable example of the genre.

Dennis Moore and Jack Randall were both B-western mainstays.  Moore occasionally played a hero but was usually cast as a villain.  Across The Plans gives him a chance to play a more complex role than usual and he takes full advantage of the opportunity.  The Kansas Kid may be an outlaw but he’s not so much bad as just misguided.  Jack Randall was one of the many stage names used by actor Addison Randall.  He started out as a singing cowboy before playing more traditional heroes, like in this film.  In Across The Plans, Randall was as tough and convincing a western hero as he always was.    Tragically, he died six years after making this film when he fell off a horse while filming a Universal serial called The Royal Mounted Ride Again.  He was only 39 years old.

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