Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Overlooked Movies: Winds of the Wasteland (1936)

I would have sworn that I had seen WINDS OF THE WASTELAND before, but when I watched it recently, I didn’t remember a thing about it. So either way, it was new to me, and if you can overlook the miscasting of John Wayne and Lane Chandler as former Pony Express riders—they’re both much too big and heavy for that—it turns out to be a pretty darned good B-Western. Luckily for me, I have no problem overlooking such things.

Once the Pony Express has closed down, Wayne and Chandler decide to go into the stagecoach business. They buy a franchise for a line that supposedly goes to a booming town, but of course they’ve been snookered and Crescent City is a ghost town with only two occupants. But one of them, wouldn’t you know it, has a beautiful daughter who shows up soon after. Anyway, our heroes decided to make a go of the stage line anyway, the town starts to grow, and soon they’re involved in a stagecoach race to get a mail franchise from the government. Their rival, naturally enough, is the guy who snookered them in the first place. There are even a couple of sub-plots involving the stringing of telegraph wire and a doctor who has lost confidence in his skills. WINDS OF THE WASTELAND packs a lot into a running time of a little less than an hour.

There’s nothing new here, and there wasn’t in 1936 when this movie was made, either. But boy, do they do a good job of hitting their marks. Wayne seems to be having a great time and does quite a few of his own stunts. The bad guy’s chief henchmen are Bob Kortman and an uncredited Yakima Canutt, and as always, it’s great to see Yak in action, sometimes doubling Wayne, sometimes playing his own character, but always throwing himself around with abandon. He’s at the reins on one of the stagecoaches in the climactic race, and it’s a great scene. The only weak link is Phyllis Fraser as Wayne’s love interest, who has very little to do and zero chemistry with the Duke.

Overall, WINDS OF THE WASTELAND is a thoroughly entertaining movie if you’re a fan of the B-Westerns. I had a great time watching it.

1 comment:

Edwin McBride said...

Lane Chandler sounds a lot like Royal Dano in this one.