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.
The sixth entry in the Rough Riders series finds Marshal Tim McCall (Tim McCoy) traveling from Wyoming to Texas so that he can help Sandy Hopkins (Raymond Hatton) celebrate his birthday. When he arrives, he discovers that the birthday celebration is on hold because Sandy has been accused of murdering his best friend, John Dodge (Jack Daley). Dodge was the richest man in town and the townspeople think that Sandy murdered him as a result of a disagreement over a card game. What they don’t know is that Sandy and Dodge were only pretending to be mad at each other as a practical joke.
Dodge was really murdered by Bert Logan (Harry Woods), an outlaw who has hired an actress named Stella (Lois Austin) to pretend to be Dodge’s long-lost wife. When all of Dodge’s property is given to Stella, Stella will then give it all to Dodge. While Tim tries to keep the sheriff (Glenn Strange) from prosecuting Sandy, Marshal Buck Roberts (Buck Jones) goes undercover and infiltrates Logan’s gang.
After five previous films that just featured the Rough Riders talking about what their lives were like when they weren’t chasing outlaws, Down Texas Way shows us Sandy Hopkins’s life in Texas. It’s about what you would expect. Sandy likes to spend his time playing cards and hanging out in the lobby of his hotel. It seems like an nice life, at least until Bert Logan tries to frame him for murder. Luckily, the other Rough Riders are always there to have his back. Down Texas Way is not one of the better Rough Riders films because Bert’s scheme never makes much sense but Hatton is relaxed and engaging and McCoy and Jones are their usual tough selves. As with the previous film, the appeal of this Rough Riders film is the Rough Riders themselves and the way that they always stick together and have each other’s back. That’s especially true in Down Texas Way, in which both Tim and Buck show that they’ll travel across several states if it means helping out a friend in a jam.
One final note, the town’s sheriff is named Trump, though I assume he’s no relation. Glenn Strange, who played Sheriff Trump, would later play Frankenstein’s Monster in the last of the Universal horror movies.