DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

WATER RUSTLERS (director/writer: Samuel Dierge; screenwriters: Arthur Hoerl/from the story by Lawrence Meade and Don Laurie; cinematographer: Mack Stengler; editor:  Guy V. Thayer Jr.; music:  Ross DiMaggio; cast: Dorothy Page (Shirley Martin), Dave O'Brien (Bob Lawson), Stanley Price  (Robert Weylan), Ethan Allan (Tim Martin), Vince Barnett (Mike, the cook), Warner Richmond (Wiley), Leonard Trainor (Andy Jurgens), Edward R. Gordon (Henchman Kerman), Edward Peil (Lawyer), Lloyd Ingraham (Judge); Runtime: 56; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Don Lieberman; Mill Creek Entertainment; 1939)

"Drab modern-day B-Western weakly directed by Samuel Dierge."

Reviewed b y Dennis Schwartz

Drab modern-day B-Western weakly directed by Samuel Dierge ("The Singing Cowgirl"/" Ride 'em, Cowgirl "/"King of the Sierras") and the acting is robotic. The catch here is that the pic's hero is a singing lady cowgirl, Dorothy Page, who does the heroics usually reserved for the male cowboy. Writer Arthur Hoerl bases it on the story by Lawrence Meade and Don Laurie.

Scheming ranch owner Robert Weylan (Stanley Price) has diverted the water from a dam on his property to his mining site so that no rancher in the valley has water for their thirsty cattle and has hired armed goons, headed by the vile Kermit (Edward R. Gordon), to keep the ranchers from opening up the gates and making sure the water goes only to his Silver Creek mining operation. Weylan pretends to be mining for ore, but is really a land-grabber looking to buy all the valuable ranches in the valley for a cheap price and is using the water cutoff as a way of forcing them to sell. When the gritty singing cowgirl rancher Shirley Martin (Dorothy Page), the daughter of the crusty ranch owner Tim (Ethan Allan), tries with the other ranches to cut across Weylan's property with their thirsty cattle to get water, her fired disloyal foreman, Wiley (Warner Richmond), warns his boss Weylan and they set an ambush and shoot Tim in the skirmish. To avert a bloody range war, Shirley takes the heavy to court. But Weylan's thugs, led by Wiley and Kermit, threaten the witnesses and the case is dismissed without witnesses.

Shirley hires as the new foreman Bob Lawson (Dave O'Brien), who adds muscle to the good guy ranchers. After the court setback, Shirley no longer relies on the law and organizes the ranchers to find a new way to get the water by legally dynamiting a hill on the edge of her property that serves as a retaining wall for the dam, in that way the river is diverted into the entire valley. The climax has a shoot-out between the ranchers and Weylan's thugs, with the ranchers putting an end to Weylan and his venal grandiose ambitions.

Page is in fine voice singing "I Feel at Home in the Saddle," "When a Cowboy Sings a Dogie Lullaby," and "Let's Go on Like This Forever.

REVIEWED ON 8/21/2013       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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