Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Billy the Kid Trapped

Billy the Kid Trapped (1942)
Dir. Sherman Scott (Sam Newfield)
Starring Buster Crabbe, Glenn Strange, Al St. John, Bud McTaggart, Anne Jeffreys

When Billy the Kid (Crabbe) and his pals Fuzzy (St. John) and Jeff (McTaggart) are mysteriously freed from jail, they discover that they are wanted for some crimes peformed by a gang of imposters.

This is one of many Billy the Kid films that Buster Crabbe made with Sam Newfield, and it's kind of fun. There's no attempt to make it factually accurate, with Billy saying near the beginning of the film that he never killed anyone, but it's more to take a known name and craft a fun story around it. As it is, Billy the Kid Trapped is a great example of the B westerns of the thirties and forties. It's a simple story, told efficiently, that probably worked well as part of a double (or triple) feature. It's short and entertaining, and it doesn't drag or slow down.

The plot concerns Billy, Fuzzy, and Jeff being freed prior to them being hung (for a crime they didn't commit*) and learning that there is a gang that dresses like them, and it committing crimes in there name. They set out to clear there names, and it leads them to the town of Mesa, where it's being run by Stanton (Strange) and a corrupt judge that is giving criminals a free pass. The three team with a local girl (Jeffreys) and try to figure out how to take down the bad guys.

Buster Crabbe is good as the lead, as is Al St. John as one of his sidekicks Fuzzy. They stared in many of the Newfield produced Billy the Kid movies and they have good chemistry together. One of the more interesting things about the film is that the villian, Stanton, is played by future Frankenstein's monster Glenn Strange. Normally his roles in this eras B-westerns were limited to henchmen, but in this film he's the evil man in a suit that is masterminding the scheme to frame Billy and his friends. 

It should be noted that the title isn't that accurate, since other than him being jailed at the start of the film, Billy the Kid is never trapped. But I guess it's better than something like Billy the Kid vs the Imposters or something.

While it's not a great or amazing film, Billy the Kid Trapped is a great example of the b-westerns and what they were like. It's short, quickly paced and never boring. But at the same time it isn't something that demands to be seen. It's fun for what it is, and it's worth watching if you have a multi movie set that includes it.

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