With such a great movie poster, I expected this one to be a little better than it was (is).
Actually, the poster is more accurate than most. As seen in the upper left (and behind Ken’s huge head), there really is a big explosion, and rocks come tumbling down on riders. Lower left, Ken really does scoop up the babe onto the back of his horse Tarzan. Upper right, yep, Ken attacks a burning building with an ax. Lower left, Ken punches out a bad guy, and the baddest guy puts some unwanted moves on the babe. And yes, Ken does deliver that glowering stare from under his twenty gallon hat.
But otherwise, it’s a pretty weird movie. Ken plays a dual role, so we don’t really see much of him as the hero. He gets more screen time (I think) as his greedy, inept, cowardly and dimwitted brother Clem, who eventually (SPOILER ALERT) redeems himself by blowing up himself and the outlaw gang. And as if hero Ken’s screen time wasn’t limited enough, some of it is spent in disguise as a dance hall singer - and he actually sings a bad song, badly.
In one of the film's most amazing moments, Ken stuffs his king-size hat down into the crotch of his pants, where it stays for several minutes. You'd think this would give him a giant "glad to see ya" bulge, but nope, it doesn't show at all. And when he finally pulls it out, there's nary a dent or crease that doesn't belong there. That's the magic of Hollywood.
The real star of the film is Tarzan the Wonder Horse. Tarzan shows his stuff by ringing a fire bell when the building is ablaze, by unlatching a secret door in the side of a mountain, and by carrying a message that allows Ken to ride to the rescue. Sadly, despite Tarzan’s best efforts, the ending was sort of sappy.
A while back I reviewed the earlier Ken Maynard flick, Between Fighting Men (1932), and liked it much better. It has two major elements this one lacked: humor and music. So if you plan to watch only one Maynard movie in this lifetime, I’d recommend Between Fighting Men.
DO NOT OVERLOOK the rest of this week’s Overlooked Films, linked for you at Sweet Freedom.