Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Haunted Gold Review

Haunted Gold (1932)
Dir. Mack V. Wright
Staring John Wayne, Sheila Terry, Duke

John Mason (Wayne) and Janet (Terry) arrive in town after receiving mysterious notes about a mine that their fathers owned. In town they have to contend with a gang of thieves that are after the mine, and a mysterious Phantom that is haunting it.

This film, like Ride Him, Cowboy and The Big Stampede, is a remake of an earlier (and now lost) Ken Maynard film called The Phantom City. Like the other 2 films, this one also reuses stock and some action footage from the earlier film, and intercuts it newer footage. It's also kind of weird that as I watched it I though "this isn't that good" and then the next day after I had sometime to think about it I was of the opinion of "it was pretty entertaining". This film is one of many hour long B westerns of the thirties, and the story is simple enough. Bad guys want gold, but a phantom is haunting it. There's a slight mystery about who the phantom is but it isn't really a surprise cause it comes out of nowhere. The movie throws out just enough exposition to keep the plot moving, and it moves along at a decent pace.

John Wayne is decent as a bland hero, which to be perfectly honest is really what he was doing in most of his early B-westerns. Blue Washington is Clarence, John Mason's side kick/comic relief. He's the best and worst thing about the movie. He plays the role well, but it's kind of what you'd expect in terms of how African-Americans were presented in films of that era. He does well in the role, giving the film some bits of humor, but then you have characters refer to him as "Darkie" and "Sambo", and that he has "a watermelon accent". It's one of those things that you have to put in context of when the film was made, but I was pretty shocked to hear it, but I could see it being a problem for others.

After thinking about it, the plot of the movie involving the phantom was very similar to the Tex Ritter film Rollin' Plains, which I'd say did it better. Some of the scenes do work well, welling eerie and spooky, and they are some of the more interesting scenes in the film. And of course, like the other John Wayne remakes of  Ken Maynard films, Duke gets to be the real hero, saving characters and even boxing one of the bad guys with his hooves until he falls off a cliff, in one of the more crazier scenes in the movie. As I said earlier, this is another film that reuses a lot of stock and wide shots from the earlier film The Phantom City, I don't thing that it integrated it as well as The Big Stampede did.

Overall I would say that this movie is just alright. It's not great but it isn't awful. It's a pretty good way to kill an hour, but there are better hour long B-westerns and better ghost themed westerns to choose from.

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