Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Mystery of the Hooded Horsemen Review

The Mystery of the Hooded Horsemen (1937)
Dir. Ray Taylor
Starring: Tex Ritter

Tex and his pal Stubby wander into town and come across a gang of hooded men attacking another traveler, which leads to them uncovering a plot to take control of a local mining operation.

It's another Tex Ritter singing cowboy film. Tex Ritter usually gets criticized  for being one of the weaker of the singing cowboys, and honestly, he was a better singer than an actor. He didn't have anywhere near the screen presence of Roy Rogers or Gene Autry, and most of his films where of lesser quality than the ones of his peers. But he isn't terrible, and the songs are pretty good in this film. He comes across as a bit bland and vanilla as the hero, but that seems more like an attempt to be more of a noble family friendly hero than a problem with him as an actor.

The plot kind of meanders for most of the movie, then it rushes to an ending in the last ten minutes. It’s a bit anti-climactic. It falls into the standard routine of most Tex Ritter films, opening shootout, bar fight, singing in the middle, resolution. The film is shot in a very statically manner, like a sitcom or a Kevin Smith movie. The camera was thrown in place, and people would walk up to it, give their lines, and move off screen.  The film does have some good bits of comedic dialogue between the characters, and Ritter and Horace Murphy worked well on screen together, (which is why they were paired together many times). The only real negatives about the film is that the musical scene in the saloon at the midpoint on the movie goes on a little long and comes close to killing the momentum of the film, and the scenes where Tex is mistaken for a hooded horseman and arrested, then broken out of the jail by Stubby breaks him out are a bit unnecessary and add nothing to the movie, other than giving Hank Worden* a small part. The biggest mystery of the film is “who is the Big Boss?”, which is resolved in a Scooby Doo ending.

Overall it’s a decent film. Nothing about it is fantastic or standout, but it is just a decent little singing cowboy film. Plus it has a short running time, and is decently paced, so it doesn’t have time to get boring or run out its welcome. Tex Ritter wasn’t the best of the singing cowboys, but he was alright, and I’d have to sat that this is one of the better of his films that I have seen, but not as good or as interesting as Rollin' Plains.

*It was his very distinctive voice. As soon as I heard it I knew it was him. Seeing him made me wish I was watching a John Ford movie.

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