In the mining town of Gold Creek, an outlaw gang has been hijacking shipments of gold. Newspaper publisher Rufus Todd (Milburn Morante) has learned that the head of the gang is saloon owner Jim Rand (Harry Woods). Todd is planning on publishing a story identifying Rand as the outlaw leader on the front page of his newspaper so Rand’s secret partner, businessman John Corbett (Jack Daley) arranges for Rufus’s printing press to be blown up.
Rufus calls in his old friend, Marshal Buck Roberts (Buck Jones). Buck arrives in town with his fellow Rough Riders, Tim McCall (Tim McCoy) and Sandy Hopkins (Raymond Hatton). As usual, everyone is working undercover. Buck pretends to be an outlaw named Rocky Sanders. Tim claims to be a preacher who is not afraid to draw his gun and force everyone in the saloon to put down their drinks and listen while Rufus identifies Rand as being an outlaw. Sandy is the new undertaker and his coffins prove useful for smuggling in some much needed equipment.
The eighth Rough Riders film trods familiar ground. Once again, Buck is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and, as always, the villains are a businessman and a saloon owner. Still, I enjoyed seeing Tim to pretend to be a preacher and Sandy had some funny moments are the town’s garrulous undertaker. As always, McCoy, Roberts, and Hatton possessed an authentic western toughness that made them compelling heroes even in B-westerns like this one.
Since Tim McCoy reenlisted in the U.S. Army following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, this was the last Rough Riders film to feature the original three riders and their chemistry and friendship are as strong as when the series first began. The movie ends with the promise that the Rough Riders would ride again but sadly, it was not to be. Though West of the Law doesn’t break any new ground, it’s still a decent finale for the original team.
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