It’s funny watching these films out of order. I’m tempted to say that this 1946 film is a mash-up of scenes I’ve already seen in other films, but the truth is that “Galloping Thunder” is the farm on which these scenes were grown, the celluloid upon which they were first seen, before being recycled in other, later films.

Here’s where all the Smiley beats from “Cyclone Fury” were born; the haunted funeral home; Steve knocking out a guy and putting him in one of Smiley’s coffins; Smiley and Merle Travis singing for their supper from a chow wagon.

There’s some footage I’ve seen in MULTIPLE DK films — dropping some guys from their saddles with a rope, making them walk back to town without their boots on — a particular panning shot of DK riding around a corner, interrupting some men from mounting their horses, who then take potshots at his fleeing form.

..and not just scenes, it’s IDEAS that are recycled. Film opens with a scene of Smiley and then Steve trying their hands at a busting a bronco. Exact scene is re-shot for “Cyclone Fury” (with an added bit of Smiley eating his hat.) The horse even has the same name, “Red Devil.”

It would be sorta fun to watch these two films back to back and see what new footage needed to be shot to incorporate these scenes into the new plot.


Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Plot is familiar. Steve Reynolds is a Syndicate Investigator trying to discover why the remounts are not making their way from the ranchers to the Army. Grat Hanlon (here played by Richard Bailey, later to be played in “Cyclone Fury” by Clayton Moore) is making sure the ranchers don’t succeed so that he can break them and take their horses. Steve adopts the identity of Buck McCloud “from the Panhandle” to infiltrate Grat’s gang.

The Steve / Durango schism takes an interesting turn in this film. Durango is the Better Steve. The Ranchers don’t believe Steve when he tells them repeatedly that Grat is the bad guy; they believe Durango the first time he tells them, and act immediately upon this information. The bad guys discover that Steve is not “Buck McCloud”; but they never unmask the Kid!

Poor Steve. Poor deluded Steve.

Merle Travis and his Bronco Busters are in this one. They sing four songs — two of which can be heard again in 1951.