Tuesday, January 21, 2014


The cowboy buddies known as the Three Mesquiteers (Stony, Tucson and Lullaby) are on a riverboat when they witness a brief gunfight between gamblers which results in one of them, a man named Talbot, getting knocked overboard. What the Mesquiteers don't see is that on shore, Talbot, seeking help for a wound on his wrist, runs into Hazelton, a former money engraver, and eventually the two of them work out a huge swindle: Hazelton forges a land grant document giving a huge tract of land (which has already been settled by homesteaders) to the Spanish Don Luis de Serrano. Talbot poses as Don Luis and takes his claim to the government which has no choice but to give him the land. At first, he claims he will rule fairly, but very soon he becomes a virtual dictator, levying high taxes, confiscating property, and driving good people, including the Mesquiteers, off the land. Soon, a caped trio of vigilantes known as the Capaqueros comes to the people's rescue, at least until Don Luis hires a militia to hunt them down. Of course, the Capaqueros are the Mesquiteers, and when Stony recognizes that Don Luis is actually Talbot, he comes up with a plan to expose the evildoer.

There is a lot of plot crammed into this 56-minute B-western. I didn't even mention Susan, the damsel in distress who never quite becomes a romantic interest, or the sexy wife of Don Luis, or the presence of President Garfield as a character. I've enjoyed these Three Mesquiteers movies, though in this one, it feels like the director said to Ray Corrigan (as Tucson) and Max Terhune (as Lullaby), relax and let John Wayne (as Stony) take over. Wayne is practically the whole show here—Terhune does an uninspired ventriloquist bit but otherwise seems almost comatose, and Corrigan is slightly more energetic but still a bit wooden. George Douglas is disappointing as the villain, with Doreen McKay only slightly better as his wife. Still, it moves quickly, never bogging down, and it's fun to see the plot work itself out. [DVD]

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