Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Broadway to Cheyenne (1932) AKA From Broadway to Cheyenne
Dir. Harry Fraser
Staring Rex Bell, George "Gabby" Hayes

Young New York police dectective Breezy Kildare (Bell) is trying to take down the Owens gang when he is injured in a nightclub shoot out. Sent back to his hometown oof Cheyenne to recuperate, he discovers the local farmers are being strong armed by a protection racket ran by the Owens gang.

This is a interesting movie. One the surface it seems like any other poverty row B picture from the thirties, being that it's only an hour long and it costars Gabby Hayes. But Broadway to Cheyenne is surprisingly good. It helps that this film is a blending of the western and the crime/mob genres. But it works very well. You're introduced to Breezy Kildare, New York Detective, whose refusal to take bribes from the Owens gang leads to him being shot in a nightclub shootout. Sent home to Cheyenne to heal, he discovers that the same gang is forcing the local farmers to participate in a protection racket. That the Owens gang jumped ship to same town that Breezy hails from is one of those crazy things that only works in movies, but if you can accept that coincidence and keep going, it's a pretty enjoyable film.

The movie moves along quickly, not spending too long with anything, but still giving weird and cool bits like the bag guys using a Tommy Gun to kill a herd of cattle. What really helps is that Rex Bell is good as the lead. He wasn't great in the same way that John Wayne would be in his Poverty Row pictures, but he's fun and full of youthful energy. At this point he's more remembered for his political career and for being married to Clara Bow, not for his string of films from the thirties. George Hayes is alright in the movie, but he really doesn't have much to do. His biggest moment is a scene where he shots the hats off of Owens men. He's basically just Kildare's sidekick. It is pretty strange seeing him only sporting a mustache rather than the big bushy beard that he more known for.

Spoilers ahead in the next paragraph:
Probably the most shocking thing about the movie (and the biggest sign that it's a pre Code film), is the ending where the heroes are dragging Owens off to be hung, which leads to Owens shooting himself rather than be hanged. It's surprising enough to see the heroes full of vengeance and getting ready to lynch the bad guy, but when Owens kills himself it's one of those moments that make you say "whoa", cause that's something you don't usually see in older movies.

As a side note, the finale was filmed at Vasquez Rocks, which I always associate with the original series of Star Trek. It took me out of the movie for a second when I saw Kildare and his crew ride by that jagged rock and my first thought was "That's where Captain Kirk fought the Gorn!" Like Monument Valley it is a really cool looking location, and it makes sense for many film shoots to take advantage of it.

I really liked this one. It's fun and it's quick. It's got an enjoyable lead. And there's enough odd things about it to keep things interesting. I'd say that it's one of the better public domain poverty row westerns that clutter up the dvd brick sets. It's worth a watch.

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