Blue Steel (1934, directed by Robert N. Bradbury)

On a stormy night, frontier Sheriff Jake Withers (George “Gabby” Hayes) and undercover U.S. Marshal Carruthers (John Wayne) both check into the same inn.  They are both searching for the infamous Polka Dot Bandit (Yakima Canutt), who has been burglarizing homes and businesses all over California.  They both figure that, on a rainy night like this, there’s no way that the Bandit is going to be out.  It turns out they are both wrong.  The Bandit breaks into the inn and robs the safe but also leaves behind one of his spurs.  The sheriff comes across Carruthers investigating the safe and mistakenly believes that Carruthers is the bandit.

Later, when Sheriff Winters goes out to Carruthers’s cabin, he’s planning on arresting Carruthers.  Before he can do so, they both hear gun shots.  Outside, another group of bandits is chasing Betty (Eleanor Hunt) and her father.  The Sherriff and Carruthers manage to save Betty but her father is killed.  The grieving Betty is taken in by a local rancher named Malgrove (Edward Peil, Jr.) but it turns out that Malgrove is the head of the Polka Dot Gang and he is planning on killing Betty in order to keep a shipment of supplies from coming to the town!  Carruthers and the sheriff have to work together to thwart Malgrove’s plan and bring the Polka Dot Bandit to justice.

This 54-minute programmer was one of the many B-westerns that John Wayne made for Monogram Pictures in the days before John Ford made him a star by casting him in Stagecoach.  Though Wayne was still learning how to act on camera, the screen presence that would make him a star can be seen in Blue Steel and he and Hayes make a good team.  The story is simple enough but there’s enough horse riding and fistfights to keep most B-western fans entertained.  It’s still hard not to imagine how much different the movie would have been if the sheriff had arrested Carruthers at the scene of the crime instead of letting him ride out to his cabin.  It’s a good thing these old programmers never had to make too much sense.

One response to “Blue Steel (1934, directed by Robert N. Bradbury)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 3/13/23 — 3/19/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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