Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ride Him, Cowboy Review

Ride Him Cowboy (1932) AKA The Hawk
Dir. Fred Allen
Staring John Wayne, Duke, Frank Hagney, Ruth Hall

John Drury (Wayne) is passing through town when he sees a horse on trial and about to be executed. He intervenes and saves the horse, then gets drawn into a manhunt for the outlaw named Hawk that has been terrorizing the area.  

The most interesting thing is that it is a remake of the lost film The Unknown Cavalier, and it reuses stock footage from this earlier film. This is the first film that John Wayne made for Warner Brothers, and one of several that he made in a 2 year period that were remakes of earlier silent westerns that starred Ken Maynard. In fact Duke, the white horse that shares the lead with John Wayne, was chosen due to his similar appearance to Maynard’s horse Tarzan, as was the wardrobe chosen for the actors. Overall the stock footage was integrated well into the rest of the film, and the movie looked surprisingly well for when it was made*.

Ride Him Cowboy is not a bad little movie. It’s pretty fun and quick, and it tells its story competently. Nothing here is amazing or ground breaking, it is just a fun oater. There’s a pretty decent fight scene towards the end between Wayne and Frank Hagney, who plays the movies villain Henry Sims AKA The Hawk. There is a couple of times when characters do a couple of dumb or illogical things in order to serve the plot, but since the movie moves pretty quick it doesn’t really give you too much time to notice it. Ruth Hall gets some good scenes as the horse owner/love interest, and she does play into the finale which was a bit surprising. But the horse is the real star of the picture, and gets more heroic moments than Wayne does**.

I don’t think that anyone would say that this is their favorite John Wayne film, or that it is in their top 5, 10, or 20 of his films. But it isn't awful. It’s a pretty decent B western, and an interesting relic from the pre-Stagecoach era of John Wayne's career.

*I viewed it on a dvd that also contains the films The Big Stampede and Haunted Gold, two other remakes of earlier Ken Maynard films. I was kind of concerned about how it would look due there being 3 films were on one disc, but due to the short runtimes of the films there was no compression or encoding issues that I noticed.

**SPOILER: I was amused at how they kind of glossed over the fact that Duke basically beat Hawk to death with his hoofs.

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