Sagebrush Trail (1933, directed by Armand Schaefer)

Accused and convicted of a murder that he didn’t commit, John Brant (John Wayne) breaks out of prison in Maryland and, following the advice of Horace Greeley, he goes west.  After making a narrow escape from the authorities, he meets and befriends Joseph Conlan (Lane Chandler).  Conlan brings Brant into his gang, where Brant starts out as a cook but is soon being assigned to help rob stores and stagecoaches.  Despite his time in prison, Brant is no criminal and he secretly thwarts every robbery that the gang tries to pull off.  When the gang starts to suspect that Brant might be an undercover cop, Conlan is the only one willing to stand up for him and help him.  Conlan is also responsible for the murder that Brant was accused of committing.

John Wayne as a hardened escaped convict?  Maybe the older John Wayne could have pulled that off but, in 1933, Wayne was still too cheerful and easy going to be believable as someone who had spent the last few months doing hard time.  Fortunately, even early in his career, Wayne was convincing when riding a horse or shooting a gun and that’s probably all that the audience for these short programmers demanded.  There’s also an exciting scene where Wayne is forced to swim across a pond while his pursuers shoot at him.  As the criminal with a conscience, Lane Chandler steals the film.

Fans of westerns will want to keep an eye out for legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt, playing yet another outlaw gang leader.  Yakima Canutt started out his career risking his life as a rodeo rider and then went on to risk his life ever more as Hollywood’s most daring stunt performer.  When he got too old to continue doing stunt work, he became a second unit director, for John Ford and others.  He staged Ben-Hur‘s famous chariot race and was credited with making sure that not a single horse was hurt and not a single human was seriously injured during filming.  Yakima Canutt lived to be 90 years old, outliving most of the actors from whom he doubled as a stuntman.

One response to “Sagebrush Trail (1933, directed by Armand Schaefer)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 3/20/23 — 3/26/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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