“Riders of Black River”

August 18, 2008

There are always riders in these films. Most everyone rides a horse. But there’s no river, black or otherwise. No one mentions a river, the town isn’t named Black River, no river at all.

I’ve read that these films were named after they were shot, generally by someone in the New York office who watched a cut and came up with the title. Sometimes one can gather a clue or two as to how they came up with the title, but not this 1939 film.

Wade Patterson (no Steve?) is an ex-Texas Ranger who is coming home after 3 years to see his gal (Iris Meredith) and start the Circle A Ranch.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

His brother, the Sheriff, rides ahead to the ranch to put up a sign as a surprise for Wade. Dick Curtis and his boys are keeping their rustled livestock there, so Dick shoots and kills the Sheriff.

Charles’ screen brothers have a way of dying early in pictures (see “Stampede”). Charles plays his grief and anger pretty understated, but then, I guess that’s “manly.” He is out to find the killer, though.

Dick Curtis is playing a role he’s real good at — the bad guy posing as the good guy — putting up a reward poster for rustling that he’s doing, outraged over a murder he committed.  He also has a cool name: Blaize Carew!

There’s a lot of plot but very little action for Charley until the last 15 minutes. And then it’s not much.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

There is a dynamite fight between him and Curtis in a burning shack. Finally Dick can’t take it any more. “Who killed my brother?!” demands Charley. “I did!” cries Curtis.


One Response to ““Riders of Black River””

  1. Mike Newton said

    Iris Meredith was Charles Starrett’s heroine for a number of pictures. They were a handsome looking couple and if Starrett hadn’t been married, they would have had beautiful children. Ms. Meredith was Columbia’s stock western/serial actress. She also worked with Wild Bill Elliott in a couple of films.

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