The Man From Utah (1934, directed by Robert N. Bradbury)

John Wayne is John Weston, the man from Utah.  He’s a singing  cowboy, the type who rides from town to town and sings to his horse while they’re crossing the range.  John Wayne started his career in singing cowboy movies and he often complained that he wasn’t allowed to actually sing.  Instead, his singing voice was always dubbed and it rarely matched his speaking voice.  Audiences in 1934 may not have noticed but, for audiences today, there’s no way to hear John Weston sing and think, “That’s John Wayne.”

John Weston rides into town and guns down three bank robbers.  The Marshal (George “Gabby” Hayes) is so impressed that he hires Weston and then sends him undercover into the local rodeo.  The Marshal thinks the rodeo is corrupt because any rodeo rider who comes close to winning the prize money mysteriously dies of snakebite.  That does seem suspicious.  Weston discovers that Spike Barton (Edward Peil, Sr.) is murdering the riders and is planning on stealing the prize money for himself.  Can the Man from Utah stop him without getting snakebit?

The Man From Utah features John Wayne in an early starring role, playing the type of character that he would later become famous for, the no-nonsense westerner who will do whatever he has to do to make sure justice is served.  Though it would be another five years before Stagecoach made him a certifiable movie star, Wayne is already a confident hero in The Man From Utah.  He only seems uncertain when he has to pretend to sing and it’s a good thing that John Ford helped him to leave the singing cowboy genre behind.  If Wayne had entered Stagecoach singing a song to his horse, it would have been a much different movie.

The Man From Utah is also full of actual rodeo stock footage, most of which is exciting if you’re into that type of thing.  The only problem is that most of the people at the rodeo are wearing modern clothing, making them seem out-of-place in a movie about the old west!  Overall, though, The Man From Utah is a good and simple Western programmer and will be appreciated by fans of the genre.

Music Video of the Day: Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses (1988, directed by Nigel Dick)

You can thank Thor for today’s music video of the day.

This video was shot in the Mendiola’s Ballroom at Huntington Park, California.  All of the band’s then-girlfriends are featured in the clip.  Erin Everly was dating Axl Rose at the time and he wrote the lyrics with her specifically in mind.  Sally McLaughlin was dating Slash.  Steven Adler was dating Cheryl Swiderski while Duff McKagan was going out with Mandy Brx and Izzy Stradlin was seeing Angela Nicoletti.  Unfortunately, I don’t think any of those people are still together but the song still rocks.

The video was directed by Nigel Dick, which is not surprising.  From the 80s to the present day, being a star means that Nigel Dick will eventually end up directing a music video for you.  Along with doing several other videos for Guns N’ Roses, he’s also done videos for Nickelback, Il Divo, R.E.M., Barry Manilow, Britney Spears, Madness, Iron Maiden, and pretty much every other band that’s ever had a major recording contract.  Did his work with Iron Maiden and Guns N’ Roses prepare him to work with Barry Manilow?  We may never know.