Other Cowboy Stars — John Wayne in “The Man From Utah”

December 23, 2011

Meet John Wayne, Singing Cowboy.

Two minutes (and one formless melody) into this 1934 film, Wayne puts away the guitar and draws his gun in the coolest way I’ve ever seen.

He saves the sheriff.  Gabby (here George) Hayes has a proposition for him.  Go undercover at a crooked rodeo and find out riders keep ending up dead.  This is not Utah – Lone Pine, maybe?

This is one of those weird westerns where you suddenly realize it’s not set in the old west.  Those telephone poles are not mistakes.  There are cars but most people travel by horseback.  Stagecoaches?  Shoot-outs on mainstreet?  This is 1934?  If you’re looking around the edges, there’s all sorts of clues – an airfield in the background of a rodeo scene, loudspeakers in another…

John Wayne looks very young.  I’m not sure if Gabby Hayes was ever young.

Rare is the B-Western whose title fits the action of the film.  This is one of those lucky few.  Most of this film is set at a rodeo (pronounced row-day-o) and John Wayne is announced as “The Man From Utah.”

There’s also some pretty cool action in this one.

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