Friday, December 26, 2014

#1,593. The Law of .45's (1935)

Directed By: John P. McCarthy

Starring: Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Molly O'Day, Al St. John

Tag line: "Where blood flowed red!"

Trivia: The film is also known as The Mysterious Mr. Sheffield in the United Kingdom

The 1935 western The Law of .45's is yet another movie that comes courtesy of the gang at Mill Creek Entertainment (it was one of the films in their DVD release Mean Guns 20 Movie Pack). Having scored before with the little-known gem Kansas Pacific (which I found on Mill Creek’s Combat Classics 50 Movie Pack), I was anxious to see what hidden treasures might be waiting for me in the Mean Guns Collection. Fortunately, I still have 19 more chances to find out, because The Law of .45's was as bland as they come.

Cowboy Tuscon Smith (Guinn “Big Boy” Williams) and his sidekick Stoney Martin (Al St. John) are driving their cattle through the territory when they’re forced to come to the rescue of rancher Charlie Hayden (Lafe McKee) and his daughter Joan (Molly O’Day), who are being strong-armed by a gunman named Toral (Sherry Tansey). Aided by his band of outlaws, Toral has been roughing up every rancher in the area, so, to keep their new friends safe, Tuscon and Stoney agree to stay on as Hayden’s bodyguards. What they don’t know, however, is that Toral is acting on the orders of shifty lawyer Gordon Rontell (Ted Adams), who, after the ranchers have been worked over, sweeps in and buys their property for a fraction of what it’s worth. It’s all part of his grand scheme to make a boatload of cash, and it’s up to Tuscon and Stoney to put a stop to it.

Prior to The Law of .45's, I’d never heard of Guinn “Big Boy” Williams, though I’ve seen a few of his movies (he had a small role in the 1940 World War I adventure The Fighting 69th). Apparently, Mr. Williams was quite a star in his day, appearing in dozens of westerns in the ‘20s and ‘30s including Thunder Over Texas, Cowboy Holiday, and the awkwardly titled Big Boy Rides Again. Nicknamed “Big Boy” by Will Rogers, Williams certainly had the build of a leading man (he was 6’2” with a muscular frame), but not the screen presence of one; in The Law of .45's, his Tuscon Smith is pretty damn dull. In fact, I thought his sidekick Stoney was the more interesting of the two. Had Williams and St. John switched roles, The Law of .45's might’ve been better.

A boring leading man is bad enough, but when mixed with lackluster action, a couple of forgettable ditties sung around the campfire, and a by-the-numbers romantic subplot, you have a movie that’s dead on arrival. The Law of .45's isn’t even good enough to be a fun “bad” film.

It’s just…. Blah.

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