Below The Border (1942, directed by Howard Bretherton)

In the fourth Rough Riders film, the boys head down to Mexico City to defend the Garcia Ranch from a gang of cattle rustlers who are also planning on stealing the Garcia Family Jewels.  (Would the Rough Riders have any legal jurisdiction in Mexico?)  This time, Buck Roberts (Buck Jones) assumes the identity of a well-known outlaw who deals in stolen goods, Tim McCall (Tim McCoy) pretends to be a cattle buyer, and Sandy Hopkins (Raymond Hatton) gets a job sweeping up the local saloon.  As with almost all of the Rough Riders films, the owner of the saloon, Steve Slade (Charles King), is also the leader of the thieves.  Slade is blackmailing a reformed outlaw named Joe (Dennis Moore) into helping Slade and Scully (Roy Barcroft) steal the family jewels.  Joe is in love with Rosita Garcia (Linda Brent).

Below the Border has much in common with Forbidden Trails, the Rough Riders film that came before it, right down to a villainous saloon owner and a former outlaw being blackmailed to return to his old ways.  As usual, the outlaws try to humiliate Sandy Hopkins, just for Tim McCall to show up at the saloon and turn the tables.  Scully is a despicable bully and it feels good when McCall forces him to grab Hopkins’s mop and clean up the bar himself.

It’s not the strongest of the Rough Riders films. The plot is predictable, Linda Brent gives a terrible performance as Rosita, and even the action scenes are by-the-numbers.  The main appeal of Below the Border is to watch the three Rough Riders themselves.  Jones, McCoy, and Hatton all seem to have genuinely enjoyed working together and that comes through in their scenes together.  You never have any doubt that, even though they live in different parts of the country, all it would take is one telegram for them to get back together.  The highlight of each film is the final scene, where the Rough Riders tell each other what they’ve been up to between adventures.  This time, Buck invites everyone to visit him in Arizona but Tim has to get back to Wyoming and Sandy’s running a hotel in Texas.  They ride off separately but there’s little doubt they will reunite as soon as there’s a new rustler who needs to be brought to justice.

Previous Rough Rider Reviews:

  1. Arizona Bound
  2. The Gunman From Bodie
  3. Forbidden Trails

5 responses to “Below The Border (1942, directed by Howard Bretherton)

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