My memories of Hopalong Cassidy from when I’m a kid are of the TV show, of course, as well as the early films that starred William Boyd in the iconic black outfit and hat (Hoppy being one of the few good guys who wore black).
But years later, I discovered that in the series’ final years, there were a number of entries in which Boyd wore a tan suit and cream-colored hat, and the plots took on a definitely hardboiled, mystery-oriented tone. One of the best of these is THE DEAD DON’T DREAM, which is a great noir title that would have been just as much at home on a Gold Medal paperback.
Boyd’s sidekicks in these later films are Andy Clyde as California Carlson and Rand Brooks as Lucky Jenkins. In this one, our heroes find themselves staying in an isolated frontier hotel where a murder takes place, and that killing is only the first of several. This film is actually structured more like a Charlie Chan movie than a Western (which I guess makes Andy Clyde the Mantan Moreland character) and is nicely photographed in sinister black-and-white.
THE DEAD DON'T DREAM and the other Cassidy movies from this era are nice, tight films that pack quite a bit of plot into running times that seldom went much over an hour. When the Hopalong Cassidy TV show was at its height in the early Fifties, some of the movies from the late Forties, like this one, were edited down to fit into a half-hour TV episode, which meant cutting them by almost two-thirds once you account for the commercials. I’ve seen those episodes, and they make almost no sense at all. But the original versions are well worth watching. I believe some of them are available on Netflix, including this one.
Dream of the Iron Dragon, by Robert Kroese
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