Ghost Town Law (1942, directed by Howard Bretherton)

When two U.S. marshals are ambushed and killed while searching for a group of outlaws in a nearly deserted ghost town, Marshal Tim McCall (Tim McCoy) leaves his ranch in Wyoming to investigate the crime.  He was friends with the two murdered men, making this case personal.  Of course, McCall’s two fellow Rough Riders ride into town to help McCall out.  Buck Roberts (Buck Jones) and Sandy Hopkins (Raymond Hatton) arrives separately and pretend to be prospectors.  Their investigation leads to the outlaws (led, as usual, by Charles King), a corrupt member of the community, and a network of underground tunnels that might lead to a gold mine.  As with all of the Rough Rider films, Ghost Town Law features a younger secondary protagonist who was there to appeal to audiences who didn’t remember Jones, McCoy, and Hatton from their silent and pre-code era heyday.  Virginia Carpenter plays Josie Hall, who comes to the town to search for her grandmother and brother.

Starting with the two marshals getting gunned down in the line of duty, this is one of the more violent of the Rough Riders films.  Since the Rough Riders are as interested in getting revenge as they are in getting justice, the Rough Riders themselves are quicker on the draw than usual.  The identity of the main villain will not be a shock to anyone who has watched any of the other Rough Rider films but the use of the underground tunnels adds a new element of danger to the movie.  For once, the outlaws and the Rough Riders seem evenly matched.  The film also features the very lovely and likable Virginia Carpenter, making the last of her five film appearances.

As always, the main appeal is watching Jones, McCoy, and Hatton acting opposite each other.  Due to the nature of the case, all three of them are more serious than usual in Ghost Town Law but it is still enjoyable to watch them discuss what’s been happening at their ranches since the last movie.

Previous Rough Rider Reviews:

  1. Arizona Bound
  2. The Gunman From Bodie
  3. Forbidden Trails
  4. Below the Border

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.23 “Cornelius and Alphonse/The Choice”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Smiles, everyone, smiles!  This week, we visit the other side of the Island.

Episode 2.23 “Cornelius and Alphonse/The Choice”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on May 6th, 1979)

This was a bit of an odd episode.

First off, the official title of the show, for this episode, was Fantasy Island Sunday Special.  Usually, Fantasy Island aired on Saturdays.  This episode, as you can guess by the title, aired on a Sunday.  Secondly, this episode does away with both the plane and Tattoo’s signature cry of “Da Plane Da Plane,” and instead has the guests arrive on the island in a hot air balloon.  Tattoo (who is once again seen driving his little car, so I guess he finally recovered it after it was stolen earlier in the season) and Mr. Roarke are joined by a second assistant, Cindy (Kimberly Beck, who readers of this site will probably recognize as the likable lead in films like Massacre at Central High and Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter).  At one point, Roarke says that “Cindy helps me on this side of the Island.”  If nothing else, this episode confirms that Roarke has multiple assistants and the Island is really, really big.

Actually, it’s a good thing that Cindy is there because Cornelius (Red Buttons) and Alphonse (Billy Barty) have kidnapped Tattoo!  Cornelius is a former employee of the Island but he was fired for stealing.  When he returns to the Island, he says that his fantasy is to just have a pleasant holiday with his friend Alphonse.  However, Cornelius’s real fantasy is to get revenge on Mr. Roarke by abducting Tattoo and holding him for ransom!

Of course, anyone who has been paying attention to the show up to this point knows that Cornelius and Alphonse have made a mistake.  Mr. Roarke and Tattoo obviously loathe each other.  When Mr. Roarke finds out that Tattoo is being held captive in a conveniently deserted castle, he doesn’t really seem that concerned about it.  And Tattoo turns out to be such a disruptive presence that Cornelius is soon begging Roarke to take him back.  In the end, Roarke demands money to take Tattoo off of their hands and Cornelius and Alphone end up paying off their debt by working in Fantasy Island’s kitchen.  Tattoo is amused by the whole thing, despite the fact that Mr, Roarke was essentially willing to let him die.

Meanwhile, two orphans (Kyle Richards and Michael Anderson, Jr.) are given a chance to pick their new parents.  They spend time with two sets of prospective parents.  (One of the potential fathers is a magician played by a youngish Regis Philbin.)  From the start of the fantasy, it’s pretty obvious that they’re going to ask to be adopted by Ruth (Juliet Mills), the head of the adoption agency.  And that’s exactly what happens.  The episode ends with Ruth and the children boarding a hot air balloon and flying all the way back to America.

As I said, this was a bit of a weird episode, with a new assistant and a hot air balloon.  “The other side of the Island” looks a like a theme park.  This episode was obviously designed to appeal to children and, for what it’s worth, the IMDb trivia section states that this episode was meant to be a “backdoor pilot” for a version of Fantasy Island that would appeal to children.  (I assume Cindy would have been the main character.)  Unfortunately, the kidnapping humor is a bit too broad and the adoption storyline is a bit too predictable.  Hopefully, next week’s episode will take place on the adult side of the Island.

Music Video of the Day: Padam Padam by Kylie Minogue (2023, dir by Sophie Muller)

Today’s music video of the day finds Kylie Minogue in what appears to be yet another post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Personally, I appreciate this video because of all the red.  Who wouldn’t want to live in a world dominated by my favorite color?