It turns out Amazon Prime Video has a trove of these. This is Vigilantes of Boomtown, one of the series of 25 Red Ryder movies that ran from 1940 to 1947, the year it came out. It stars Allan Lane as Red Ryder, and Robert Blake as Little Beaver. I have been on the lookout for these for some time. Particularly I wanted uninitiated readers to have a look at Robert Blake before life turned serious.
This was released by Republic Pictures. Details are from Wikipedia. It incorporates a historical event, that being the 1897 championship bout between Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons in Carson City, Nevada.
Somebody who is strongly against holding the fight is rancher Molly McVey (Peggy Stewart). She is against the barbaric sport of prize fighting, and she feels so strongly against it she initiates a brawl in the meeting to finalize the approval for the bout.
When Corbett comes to town Molly sends her dog Tiger to chase Corbett’s fight manager up a tree. Then she proceeds to chop down the tree. Red Ryder arrives in time to rescue the hapless manager.
Corbett trains at Red Ryder’s ranch, and Red Ryder gets some pointers in fisticuffs watching the sparring match.
Of course the bad guys come to rob the bank and steal the cash generated by the fight sensation. There is an attempt to fool the bandits by moving the money to Reno by way of a hay wagon, but the robbers are onto the scheme, and they give chase. I like these old western movie scenes where riders chase down a wagon out on the trail, firing their six-guns from a hundred yards back. Lots of noise and smoke to generate viewer interest.
Catching up with the ring leader, Red Ryder employees what he learned watching the sparring match, and defeats the bandit handily.
Not so good for Corbett. True to history, Corbett loses the match in the 14th round after taking a hard blow to the solar plexus.
Robert Blake would have been about 14 years old when this came out. He played Little Beaver in a number of the films, becoming famous for his signature line, “You betchem, Red Ryder!” Another supposed quote from Little Beaver was, “When you, comin’ back, Read Ryder?” This was the title for a film featuring Marjoe Gortner. Gortner’s character takes over a roadside diner at gunpoint and forces hostages to act out according to his fantasies. One command is for a victim to recite the line, supposedly from a Red Ryder movie. If there is a God in Heaven I will find a copy of this movie on my doorstep tomorrow morning, and I will do a review.
Blake was also a little kid opposite Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. More recently we saw him in a sinister role as one of four rapist on trial in Town Without Pity. He was chilling as a brutal killer in In Cold Blood. I am on the lookout for a copy of Electra Glide in Blue.
From Wikipedia, here is a list of Red Ryder films.
- The Adventures of Red Ryder (1940).
- Tucson Raiders (1944)
- Marshal of Reno (1944)
- The San Antonio Kid (1944)
- Cheyenne Wildcat (1944)
- Vigilantes of Dodge City (1944)
- Sheriff of Las Vegas (1944)
- Great Stagecoach Robbery (1945)
- Lone Texas Ranger (1945)
- Phantom of the Plains (1945)
- Marshal of Laredo (1945)
- Colorado Pioneers (1945)
- Wagon Wheels Westward (1945)
- California Gold Rush (1946)
- Sheriff of Redwood Valley (1946)
- Sun Valley Cyclone (1946)
- Conquest of Cheyenne (1946)
- Santa Fe Uprising (1946)
- Stagecoach to Denver (1946)
- Vigilantes of Boomtown (1947)
- Homesteaders of Paradise Valley (1947)
- Oregon Trail Scouts (1947)
- Rustlers of Devil’s Canyon (1947)
- Marshal of Cripple Creek (1947)
The Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight was filmed in its entirety, at over 100 minutes the longest motion picture produced up to that time. Incomplete copies remain.