EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|BOSS OF HANGTOWN MESA (director: Joseph H. Lewis; screenwriter: Oliver Drake; cinematographer: Charles Van Enger; editor: Maurice Wright; music: Frank Skinner; cast: Johnny Mack Brown (Steve Collins), Fuzzy Knight (Dr. J. Wellington Dingle), William Farnum (Judge Ezra Binns), Rex Lease (Bert Lawler), Helen Deverell (Betty Wilkins), Hugh Prosser (Utah Kid), Robert Barron (Flash Hollister), Michael Vallon (Clint Rayner), Henry Hall (John Wilkins), Jack C. Smith (Sheriff); Runtime: 58; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Will Cowan; Universal; 1942)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The acclaimed best director of the Johnny Mack Brown series, Joseph H. Lewis ("The Silver Bullet"/"Arizona Cyclone"/"Gun Crazy"), helms this lively B Western. It's written by Oliver Drake.
The oily Judge Ezra Barnes (William Farnum),
crooked-lawyer Clint Ranier (Michael Vallon) and the
slimy saloon-owner Flash Hollister (Robert Barron) are
the villains out to stop the completion of the Rocky
Mountain Telegraph Company in seven days. They fear a
telegraph line will interfere with their questionable
land deals, as the telegraph will bring civilization
and contact with the rest of the world. The respected
John Wilkins (Henry Hall) has a government contract,
and if he doesn't reach Hangtown in time the contract
is voided. The villains, led by the judge, have
Wilkins' foreman, Bert Lawler (Rex Lease), under their
thumb to sabotage the line and have brought in from
out-of-town the hired gunslinger called the Utah Kid
(Hugh Prosser). The Kid's a wanted man, and while
escaping from a posse he takes a slug in the shoulder;
to avoid the posse, he steals at gunpoint Steve
Collins' (Johnny Mack Brown), horse, ID and clothes.
Steve is the engineer from the main telegraph company
sent from Cheyenne to help finish the line. While
walking to town for help Steve is aided by Dr. Dingle
(Fuzzy Knight), who runs a traveling medicine show. In
the meantime, the Kid poses as Collins to Wilkins in
an effort to get paid $25,000 owed for supplies. When
Wilkins discovers he's a phony, the Kid kills him.
Betty Wilkins (Helen Deverell), the niece of John, now
takes over trying to get the telegraph line through.
It's up to Steve Collins, despite being unjustly
wanted for the murder of John Wilkins, with the help
of Dingle, to aid Helen, even though he can't reveal
to anybody who he really is or else face the death
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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