Marshal Buck Roberts (Buck Jones) has finally retired after a long and a legendary career. Two men who Buck arrested are not planning on allowing him to enjoy his retirement. Having served their sentence for robbing a stagecoach, Fulton (Charles King) and Howard (Bud Osborne) are released from prison and head to Yucca City, Arizona. They try to recruit their old partner, Jim Cramer (Dave O’Brien), into helping them get revenge on Buck but Cramer wants nothing to do with it. He’s gone straight and is running his own general store with his fiancée, Mary (Christine McIntyre). Cramer considers Buck to be a friend because Buck looked after Cramer’s children while Cramer was serving his sentence.
Fulton and Howard ambush Buck and nearly kill him. With the help of his horse, Silver (of Lone Ranger fame), Buck is able to escape but he’s seriously injured. His two fellow rough riders, Sandy Hopkins (Raymond Hatton) and Tim McCall (Tim McCoy), head down to Arizona to bring Fulton and Howard to justice. (Sandy even rides away from his own wedding when he hears that Buck has been injured.) While the Rough Riders search for Fulton and Howard, saloon owner Ed Nelson (Tris Coffin) works with the outlaws to steal a shipment of goods.
The third of the Rough Riders film, Forbidden Trails is memorable for acknowledging that the three Rough Riders were older than the most of the other contemporary western stars. Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, and Raymond Hatton were all veteran stars who began their careers during the silent era and who transitioned to B-movies in the sound era. At a time when their contemporaries were retiring, they were still appearing before the camera and riding the range. Like the actor playing him, Buck Howard has reached the age when most people retire but he cannot escape his past. Neither can Jim Cramer, who can’t live the law-abiding life that he desires as long as Fulton and Howard are free. While Cramer has to escape from his former friends, Buck is lucky to have friends like McCall and Hopkins. The movie showcases their loyalty and their friendship together and leaves no doubt that will never change, no matter how old the Rough Riders get. Along with showcasing the friendship of its three stars, the movie is full of chases and gunfights. The scene where Buck is ambushed is exiting and there’s also a good saloon shootout. Jones and McCoy are as authentically western as ever.
Dave O’Brien and Christine McIntyre both appeared in the previous Rough Riders film but they’re playing different characters here. Tris Coffin also played a similar crooked businessman in the first Rough Riders film, Arizona Bound.
Previous Rough Rider Reviews: