Jeff Arnold’s West

The blog of a Western fan, for other Western fans

The Man from Utah (Lone Star/Monogram, 1934)

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Duke, Gabby, Yak, classic
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In Westerns there was a man from everywhere. Everywhere in the West, that is. A glance at the Index of this blog will show you the Man from Colorado, Laramie, Nevada,Texas, all over, even Nowhere and God’s Country (wherever that may be). John Wayne’s contribution was The Man from Utah.

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A classic of the genre. I guess.
 
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Wayne was progressing on his 1930s B-Western career making Lone Star programmers released by Monogram, a career which lasted till the demise of the studio in 1935; he then continued with the employers under their new guise of Republic, which lasted till 1949. The Man from Utah was the sixth of nine Monogram oaters he made in 1934 alone.

 

All of the Monogram pictures were, it must be said, formulaic and very corny by today’s standards (and perhaps even by 30s standards too). We have already reviewed Paradise Canyon, The Dawn Rider, The Desert Trail, Texas Terror, ‘Netah Arizona Skies, The Star packer, Randy Rides Alone and Blue Steel, and honestly, if you read all those reviews you are going to risk a bit of repetition. And if you actually see all the movies, you’re going to get even more repetition.

 

Still, it must also be said that they are a whole lot of fun and if you do watch them you’ll pass a pleasant few hours. They are all black & white, last roughly an hour and often had cast and crew who were part of a ‘stock company’ and so become very familiar as the series progresses. The Man from Utah is no exception.

 

It’s a rodeo picture and you can ask whether rodeo films are true Westerns. Some aren’t, really, because of their modern setting and/or because the themes they deal with aren’t very ‘Western’ in the true sense. Still, they are often highly enjoyable and some of them (The Lusty Men, Junior Bonner) are works of art. The Man from Utah could not, sadly, be put in this work-of-art category. But it is, nominally, set in the old West, with cowboys sporting shootin’ irons on their hips and classic Western skullduggery going on. I say ‘nominally’ because you occasionally glimpse an automobile or modern telegraph lines and so on (and on one occasion a sign announcing an event in 1932) but it doesn’t matter in the least. In any case old Westerns had no complexes about mixing the ancient and the modern and Tom Mix oaters, for example, are full of planes and cars. The leading ladies always wore 1930s dresses and frizzy hairdos.
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Amusing poster
 
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It’s set in Nevada (though shot in California and the rodeo footage comes from Calgary).

 

Anyway, we’ve got RN Bradbury in the director’s chair (‘Robert Bradbury’ he is billed as, which sounds grander somehow), his 72nd Western (he had directed his first in 1918). Robert was Bob Steele’s dad and often starred the boy in oaters, though not, sadly, in Utah.

 

Gabby Hayes is also there, of course, though no ‘Gabby’ is mentioned; he was billed as George Hayes in those days. He is the marshal, a rather hillbilly one, and Duke is his deputy (he’s ‘John Weston’ this time, geddit?).
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John Weston with Marshal Gabby

 

And naturally Duke’s pal Yak Canutt is there as the bad guy Cheyenne Kent and supervising the stunts. Best of all, for me, is the fact that the rodeo announcer is Earl Dwire, my hero. He usually has an old Western megaphone to shout through but occasionally they forgot that and he has a modern microphone. Oops.

 

Yak is the bad guy Cheyenne



There’s mucho galloping (often with speeded-up film), and rootin’, tootin’ and, of course, shootin’, and the ‘acting’ is, as usual, dire. They stand to attention, shout the lines they have learned (or read them off cards) and then wait motionless for their next cue. The writing (Lindsley Parsons, as so often) is so pedestrian that actually even if the cast were Laurence Olivier and Meryl Streep they’d still be no good.
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Actually, I’d rather like to see Olivier and Streep in a Western. Dream on. 

 

There’s some dynamite at the end and a river and a kiss. At one point Duke sits on a white horse and croons (or lip-syncs anyway) to the sound of his guitar.

 

Well, I enjoyed it anyway.

 

 

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