Someone is passing counterfeit bills on the Mexican border and the government thinks that it might be Doc Carter (Earle Hodgins), the manger of a traveling medicine show. Working undercover, Treasury agent John Wyatt (John Wayne) joins Doc Carter’s medicine show as a trick shooter. John discovers that Doc Carter is a quack and the miracle cure that he sells is 90% alcohol but that Doc Carter isn’t a counterfeiter. Instead, Doc Carter is being framed by his former partner, Curly Joe (Yakima Canutt). When John tries to tell the Mexican authorities about Curly Joe is doing, he discovers that Curly Joe has framed him as well!
This was the last of the B-programmers that John Wayne made for Monogram Pictures and it was the only one of Wayne’s films to be directed by Carl Pierson. As he did in almost all of his early B-pictures, John Wayne gives a tough but likable performance. He’s the most cheerful undercover agent that I’ve ever seen. The action scenes are rudimentary and Pierson was obviously not as creative a director as some of the other filmmakers that Wayne worked with early in his career. Carl Pierson was no Robert Bradbury. But the medicine show angle does bring a different angle to the story, with Wayne getting to show off his trick shooting skills and Earle Hodgins providing comedic relief with his miracle cure. Of course, John has a romance with pretty Linda (Marion Burns), who is Doc Carter’s daughter and who is also known as Princess Natasha.
Though it may not be one of the best of the 50 movies that John Wayne made before getting his star-making role in Stagecoach, Paradise Canyon will still be appreciated by fans of both the Duke and the simple but entertaining B-westerns of the past.
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