|ARIZONA CYCLONE (director: Joseph H. Lewis; screenwriter: Sherman L. Lowe; cinematographer: Charles Van Enger; editor: Paul Landres; music: Milton Rosen/Harry Salter; cast: Johnny Mack Brown (Tom Baxter), Fuzzy Knight (Muleshoe), Dick Curtis (Quirt Crenshaw), Herbert Rawlinson (Randolph), Katryn Adams (Elsie Graham), Robert Strange (Adam Draper), Glenn Strange (Jessup), Nell O'Day (Claire Randolph); Runtime: 59; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Will Cowan; Foothill Video; 1941)|
Lewis' animated direction and innovative camera
angles the pic passes muster."
by Dennis Schwartz
first part of the
three film Johnny Mack Brown's Universal western
series directed by the gifted Joseph H.
Lewis ("Gun Crazy"/"The Rifleman"/"The Big
Combo"), and easily the best one in the series. The
black and white shot B-Western is routine and the
script by Sherman L. Lowe is formulaic,
but because of Lewis' animated direction and
innovative camera angles the pic passes muster.
frontier story revolves around a freight line war for
government contracts between the honest outfit owned
by Randolph (Herbert
Rawlinson) and his young sharpshooter daughter Claire
(Nell O'Day) and the villainous Crenshaw (Dick Curtis), who is capable of doing
anything to win the contracts. The thuggish Crenshaw
is secretly owned by corrupt banker Draper (Robert
illegally bought the freight line with his depositor's
money. Meanwhile rugged cowboy Tom Baxter (Johnny
Mack Brown) is
the wagon master for Randolph, and so far has been
able to hold off Crenshaw's attempts to sabotage his
freight line. Muleshoe (Fuzzy Knight) is
Tom's illiterate sidekick, who is busy comically
taking snake charm medicines to become a better man.
Crenshaw's hired gunslingers from Abilene, led by
Jessup (Glenn Strange), ambush Randolph on the trail
and force the young Claire to run the company, things
look dim. But under Tom's guidance, the freight line
is about to get the valued contract by the government
for its new telegraph lines, when Crenshaw's boys
attack Claire's ranch and try to kill the cattle used
as assets to secure the contract. A classic shoot-out
takes place, and in under an hour the good guys
Tom has a platonic/business relationship with Claire, as his romantic interest is Draper's bank secretary Elsie (Katryn Adams). By the film's end she changes positions and works for the outfit now partnered by Claire and Tom.
REVIEWED ON 8/1/2013 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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