After graduating from college, Jerry (John Wayne) travels down to the ranch owned by his uncle, Grandy (George “Gabby” Hayes). Jerry wants to look after the cattle but it turns out that Grandy doesn’t have any more cattle. They’ve all been stolen by rustlers. What Grandy does have is a dog, some horses, and a granddaughter named Betty (Barbara Sheldon) who Jerry is eager to marry even though the two of them are related. Things start to look up when Grandy and Jerry discover gold in a nearby creek. When a crooked assayer named Mr. Harris (Lloyd Whitlock) and a rustler named Joe Cole (Yakima Canutt) find out about the creek, they scheme to steal both it and the ranch from Grandy. It’s up to Jerry to save the ranch and to expose the bad guys, even after they attempt to frame him for murder. Fortunately, both Jerry and Grandy have a few tricks up their sleeves.
This was one of the many B-westerns that John Wayne did for the poverty row studios in the years before Stagecoach made him a star. (Though the film is a western with its ranches and its search for gold, the climax features Gabby Hayes driving a car so it’s hard to say for sure when it’s supposed to be taking place.) Though he seems too old to be playing a recent college graduate (John Wayne was 27 when he starred in The Lucky Texan but he looked closer to 40), Wayne gives a relaxed and likable performance as Jerry. Watching him in this film, it’s possible to see hints of the screen presence that led to John Ford casting him as the Ringo Kid in Stagecoach. As always, Yakima Canutt is on hand to do some impressive stuntwork during the film’s many chase scenes and Gabby Hayes provides the comic relief. Like most of the poverty row productions, the film can seem more than a little creaky by today’s standards but fans of John Wayne will not be disappointed with either his performance or the film’s action.
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