Ride Him, Cowboy

In Ride Him, Cowboy, a town puts a horse on trial for attempted murder. This may not be the film’s most ridiculous scene.

Sep 19, 2016 — This was the second production, following Haunted Gold (1932), under a six-picture contract John Wayne signed with Warner Bros. It’s a remake of The Unknown Cavalier (1926).

When Warner Bros. acquired First National Pictures a few years prior, they inherited the rights to several silent westerns starring Ken Maynard. These were popular, A-list productions featuring Maynard’s impressive stunt work.

Warner Bros. sought to remake the Maynard silents with sound, recycling as much footage as possible, reshooting only the close-ups and interiors. All they needed was an actor who matched Maynard’s build. Enter Wayne.

Wayne plays a wandering cowboy who tries to apprehend a mysterious outlaw known as The Hawk, only to end up framed for the outlaw’s crimes.

The opening sequence reveals The Hawk’s identity, so there’s no mystery. It also telegraphs the finale by introducing someone who can identify The Hawk. Granted, said person lies comatose but, as the doctor says, “He’ll be fine.”

This absurdity continues to the aforementioned horse trial, through Wayne’s introduction, and to his framing. This consists of The Hawk dropping Wayne’s monogrammed harmonica after raiding a homestead. That’s all the town needs to lynch Wayne. As they say, “We’ve got incontrovertible proof.”

And yet, despite the inanity, or perhaps because of it, the script surprises. When the female lead finds herself surrounded by The Hawk’s gang, she isn’t captured. Instead, she displays surprising wit and actually rescues Wayne. It’s only later that she’s captured.

As for Wayne, he’s still learning. You catch glimpses of his iconic persona, such as his reaction shots during his sham trial, but they’re rare.

Grade: D+


Originally published at www.franksmovielog.com.