Welcome back to the Rotten Ink Ranch. I am sure you can smell that chili cooking over the campfire and you know that we will be talking about another classic western film that was released on DVD by Alpha Video around the old fire as we eat a bowl or two. This Wild West Round Up update will like always have one film that I will break down. I will talk about the plot of the film and will also use pictures to do so. I will also very quickly talk about the film’s production as well as the lead star of the film, and sometimes even the director, as they are very important to the film as well. Also for these updates I will find a chili recipe online and cook up a batch and watch the movie while eating a bowl or two…and the chili and the film will be graded on a 1-4 star scale! This should be a fun time as Rotten Ink Ranch has been kind enough to allow us to sit around a campfire and cook some chili and chat about good old western films. So if you are ready, let’s start The Law Rides Again and get this themed update started and the chili cooking.
The Law Rides Again was a cheaply shot western film that was released on October 12, 1943 and was released by Monogram Pictures. Like many films at this time, it was filmed quick and cheap to get into the cinema to cash in on the still hanging on cowboy popularity. The film over the years has held up and is one that is mostly met with positive reviews from critics as well as fans. The director of this film was Alan James, who over his career directed over 70 films with many of them being westerns as well as the Dick Tracy serials from 1937. And besides directing, James was also known for his writing skills as he wrote over 60 scripts. The film’s main star was Ken Maynard, who plays the part of U.S. Marshal Ken Maynard. He was a true star when it came to acting in Western films, and this was his second time playing the U.S. Marshal character. It also had Hoot Gibson, Jack La Rue, Chief Thundercloud, Budd Buster and Betty Miles added to the cast. The film was cheap to shoot and when finished Frank Sanucci was brought in to score it. The film did well at the theaters and that was mainly due to the duo of Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson both who were really well loved by movie goers of the 1940’s. Over the years the film has built a following with fans who enjoy this era of Hollywood Westerns and as of this update’s posting holds a 6.1 out of 10 star rating on IMDB. The film has also been released on home media on multiple DVD labels.
For The Law Rides Again screening we decided to cook up some “Café Zupas Chicken Enchilada Chili” a slow cooking chili that should be very tasty and is by Emily Walker and sounds like it could be a very good meal as we chose to fix and eat it on a very cold January day in 2022. We both picked this chili as it sounded really interesting and would have to slow cook for around four hours. So after getting all the ingredients, we placed it all into the crockpot and followed the recipe and we will soon find out if it’s as good as its sounds.
I have a blast doing these western and chili updates and for sure the “Wild West Round Up” will be around for a while here at Rotten Ink. I will be grading both the film and the chili on a classic 1-4 star scale. I also want to say on my film ratings, I am basing it on a scale that is for this era of classic westerns. So pull up a rock and gather by the campfire as it’s time to eat some home cooked chili and watch a western flick brought to us from the folks at Alpha Video.
The Law Rides Agian
Starring: Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson Directed: J.P. McGowan
Not Rated 1943 58min Alpha Video DVD Full Frame
A wagon train is spotted by an Indian Scout. He reports back to his tribe, and they decide to go on the attack! The people of the wagon train try to escape but they are no match and are caught and killed and many of the wagons are set on fire. The aftermath is spotted by Eagle Eye who in fear rides off heading into town.
Meanwhile in the Arizona Territory at the Commissioner’s Office Eagle Eye is inside talking to Commissioner Lee about the wagon ambush and is worked up over all that the tribe took and what they destroyed, and now the Commissioner is looking at U.S. Marshal Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson to investigate and see why the Native Americans have gone against the peace treaty. Ken and Hoot end up with an idea to use connected fugitive Duke Dillon to help find who is creating the tension and making the tribe attack the wagons, and Duke agrees to help dig and find the info as they promise his punishment would be made lighter for the help. Meanwhile in town Indian Agent John Hampton is talking with Chief Barking Fox as they have gotten a herd of cattle for the Indians and as well John slips Thundercloud, a brave, some coins and the deal is done.
The Marshal arrives at the jail with Duke Dillon arrive at the stage coach office and Betty Conway takes over the job or driving it as they head toward the town so that Duke can find the person who is causing the drama with the tribe. Meanwhile as Eagle Eye stops to take a drink of water he is almost hit with an arrow as the tribe have spotted him and do not want him on their land, they give chase to them and it’s luck that he is able to give them the slip. Eagle Eye rushes to the station and informs Pete Conway the owner of the stage couch company that the tribe is on a path of destruction…and lucky for them Ken and Hoot arrive and are told of the situation and they go after the stage coach and after a chase they are able to leap from their horses onto the coach and get Betty to stop it. But they are all unlucky as the Native American Tribe has shown up and now Betty’s driving skills are being put to the test. And during this chase Duke is able to get the Marshalls gun away from him and kill him and then leap out of the coach just as they reach the safety of the town as the Native Americans turn around. Meanwhile Ken, Hoot and Betty are unaware of the escape of Duke and the killing of the Marshall. And just Duke’s luck where he lands he finds a house that he limps to.
John Hampton and his men have gotten word that Duke Dillon is working alongside the law in order to help point the finger at the people who are working up the Native Americans and causing these attacks, and of course its them that are doing so and they have an idea to kill Duke as he exits the coach…but of course he has already escaped. Meanwhile Sheriff Jeff is called when the body of the Marshall is found and Ken and Hoot are taken in for questioning, as Betty does not know them and they are the ones who originally stopped her coach before the Indian attack. Hampton stops by and tries to get information from Betty and Jeff as well as acts as if he is not sure why the Indians are attacking and even more he wants to know who was the criminal passenger who was on the coach that escaped. And when he doesn’t get what he seeks he acts like he will help Jeff in finding out why the tribe is attacking.
Ken and Hoot are locked up in a jail cell for over three hours now and they are getting antsy as they want to be on their way to track down Duke And with a whistle they get their horses to show up at the jail window and Hoot uses a lasso to get Ken’s gun off the desk and they then use the rope to also tie to the horse who pulls the window out and they are now free. Sheriff Ken arrives at the jail just in time to see them ride off as he had been spending the morning talking to Betty and letting his prisoners think about the crime he thinks they did in jail. Meanwhile John Hampton is relieved that Ken and Hoot escaped as they think now the investigation into the Tribe attacks will be over.
Ken and Hoot return to the trail and find the tracks of Duke as well as the old house he is taking shelter in. Before the head to the house Hoot tells Ken that even though Duke double crossed them he still might be useful into the matter of finding out who is behind the Tribe attacking. When they get to the house they leave the horses by the door and walk away to the back of the house, as Duke limps out of the home thinking about stealing a horse to get away Hoot and Ken bust him as it was a trap and the crook fell for it. When caught the three head into the home to talk about the original plan as Duke claims he did not kill the Marshall that it was a bullet from the attacking tribe that killed him. Meanwhile back in town Thundercloud visits with Hampton who just wrapped up a meeting with Sheriff Jeff and warns him that trouble could be on the way as a white man has scheduled a meeting with Chief Barking Fox at sundown and this worries Hampton as he thinks that the gig could be exposed. And worse for Hampton is Ken, Hoot and Duke have just arrived in town and Duke heads toward Hampton’s building as Ken and Hoot watch on.
Ken and Hoot are shocked that Duke headed straight for Hampton’s post and they think that they should go and get the Sheriff and Hoot breaks off to go do so as Ken keeps his eye on the building. Inside Duke and Hampton have a talk and Duke alerts him that he has no intention in helping the law and turning in Hampton for his work on angering the Indians, and all he wants is for him to help him escape. Duke even says that if Hampton refuses and has one of his men shoot him that the law will be at their door in no time as he tells him that Ken and Hoot are outside. Meanwhile back at the jail Hoot is having to explain to Sheriff Jeff, Betty as well as two other men why they had such strange behavior and why they escaped jail, and Ken is tricked into coming into the Indian Agent building and even punches and knocks out one of Hampton’s men in the lobby.
Ken starts looking around seeing if he can find Hampton and Duke and once upstairs he has a fist fight with two more of Hampton’s men and the odds being against him Ken is hit with a chair and goes down, the attackers all flee the scene when Hoot along with Betty, The Sheriff and the two other men arrive. Ken wakes up and joins the search party and when they arrive at the room of Hampton he plays dumb and acts as Duke is gone and he acts as if he has never heard of him before. When they all leave Duke comes out from behind a trick bookcase and tells Hampton that he thinks that the only way out of this is if they kill Ken, Hoot and Betty as they have all seen him. Meanwhile back at the jail Eagle Eye is telling Ken and Hoot that the meeting with Chief Barking Fox is a go at sunset. Hoot heads off to the meeting with the Chief as Betty heads to the fort to bring her fiancé who is a Calvary soldier, while Ken and Eagle Eye stay with the Sheriff and his deputies in case of trouble in town. While at the office of Hampton he is being convinced by Duke and Thundercloud that during the meeting they should attack and kill those who are close to exposing this crime ring they have. And when they find out Hoot and Betty have rode off Hampton sends men to go and get them.
As Hoot and Betty are riding he catches on that they are now being followed and tries to come up with an idea to loss their soon to be attackers, he even had Betty split off so that it would be harder for the bad guys to track them. And Betty outsmarts her followers and heads toward the fort, while Hoot as well makes his trackers look silly as he gets the jump on them and even steals their horses, leaving them walking back to town. Hampton and Duke’s attempt to stop Betty and Hoot was a failure. While back in town Ken gets on top of the roofs and makes his way to Hampton’s Indian Agent Post as the front door was heavily guarded. Once inside the office of Hampton he locks the door and starts snooping around and taking evidence, but is caught when Hampton comes from behind the bookcase and a fight breaks out alerting his men who arrive to late as Ken escapes and Hampton is knocked out.
Ken goes to the Sheriff with the evidence he has found about Hampton and his men stealing cattle from the tribe during delivery, and Hoot finds that the Chief has not been happy as they are promised lots and always delivered little by the white man. And when Hoot returns to town they all agree that Hampton is the man behind cheating the tribe and that he as well has been hiding and working alongside Duke Dillon and they now have one day to make things right with the tribe before a war breaks out. And the whole time they talk Thundercloud is at the window listening to the plan and figures out that he as well has been lied to by Hampton, and once back at his office he is knocked out and taken away by Hampton’s men. Meanwhile Ken, Hoot, Sheriff Ken, Eagle Eye and the two deputies are going to try and bluff until the Calvary arrives that Betty has went to fetch.
Hampton gets all his men ready for a gunfight as Duke now just wants his money so that he can skip town and be away from all this madness, but Hampton refuses and now he is stuck at the post. And now Eagle Eye and Sheriff Ken have also went to go get Chief Barking Fox to bring him to town as well to not only even the odds but to expose the scam that Hampton has been pulling on them. As Hampton empties his safe Duke takes out his gun and shoots Hampton and steals the money and tries to make his escape. And as Duke rides away he is spotted by Ken and Hoot who give chase and in turn Hampton’s men as well start to chase the other men. Duke gets off his horse and hides in the rocks as Ken and Hoot follow and try to get him to give up, but then things get worse as many of Hampton’s men show up guns ready and a shootout starts with Ken and Hoot being badly out numbered and out gunned, but just on time arrives the Calvary and during this gun fight even Duke is hit by a bullet and wounded badly. And when the Sheriff, Eagle Eye and The Chief join the fight its over as Hampton’s henchmen surrender, and when Ken and Hoot make it to Duke he dies. In the end the tribe and the town have peace and after chatting at the jail with Sheriff Ken, Betty and Eagle Eye our heroes Ken and Hoot then set out for more adventures.
Review: You can tell from the start that “The Law Rides Again” was made on a very cheap budget as very little gunfights breakout and the cast is kept pretty small as are the locations used. The pairing of Ken and Hoot is fun to watch, and while they are the heroes of the story and do lots of heroic and brave things, they also oddly have a comedy aspect to them that made me as the viewer take them not as serious as I should. It’s almost like they wanted to make a western comedy but got cold feet and just decided on a normal production. Ken Maynard is a good actor but for some reason in this movie for me he just did not pack that leading man punch that one would think of when it came to these classic western films, as just something was lacking in his performance and I think it was making his character have confidence. Hoot Gibson does a pretty good job of being the sidekick character who has good ideas and in the final gunfight shows that he might been the more skilled of the two heroes as his bullets save Ken twice from dying. I like the character of Betty Conway played by Betty Miles, a beautiful stagecoach driver who it appears could by all means take care of herself and I wish they would have allowed her to take part in the gun fight at the end of the film. And speaking of that gun fight, I wish there was a little more to it most of the take it was just characters firing the guns with close ups and once and awhile one of the actors would act as if they got hit by a bullet, and both of our films villains Duke Dillon and John Hampton meet their end with Hamptons being a good death for a cheat while I felt Duke’s was a little lacking. As far as bad guys go in these old western films, I would say that both Duke and Hampton are pretty dang good as Duke is just sneaky and Hampton is a full fledge conman. Plus the subplot of the Tribe attacking wagon trains and white men on their land should have been a bigger part as having them even attack the town in revenge for being cheated would have been a great touch. While this film does have many flaws it also has many charms as I felt the acting was good for the time, the fist fights were very cheesy and glorious and the fast pace and focus on our two heroes made for an enjoyable watch. And while not a classic by any means, fans of Ken Maynard and or Hoot Gibson will surly enjoy this one. I was really torn on what star rating to give this one as my gut was saying it was a *1/2 to ** star at best film, but the entertainment it gave me on a cold winters day in 2022 made me bump it up to the rating you will see it got below and yes I know I am being generous. Also the DVD print from Alpha Video is ok and while it does have a few audio and picture issues, they just added to the charm.
Now onto the Café Zupas Chicken Enchilada Chili first thing I have to say is that while cooking in the crockpot it had a great smell to it that filled the house and both Juliet and I thought so. Now for the test of the chili I can say it really does taste like a Chicken Enchilada that was blended up and made into a chili type soup. The tastes are bold but not like your normal chili taste, as the enchilada sauce is very powerful with each bite and it kind of over powers the dish. But the mix of chicken, corn and black beans do as well add to the taste and texture and helps take your tongue to the chili comfort food zone. While not as hearty as I like my chili, this one was an above average bowl that had some unique elements that made for a tasty meal.
Well that was some tasty chili and a fun and entertaining classic western movie featuring Hoot Gibson and Ken Maynard, two icons of the western genre, and again while flawed the movie really was a fun watch. As you can see, the camp fire is going out and the bright stars are filling the night sky and that means its time for us to hit the dusty old trail but before we do, I would like to let you know that our next update will be taking us back to the world of Pro Wrestling and will also kick off our WrestleMania month as we will have three updates all based on R.I.W Wrestling Legends with the first one being about Big John Studd, who is one of my all time favorite big man wrestlers and then you will have to wait and see who the second Legend is we cover! So until then, read a Western comic or three, watch a western film or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update at the Rotten Ink Arena for a body slam challenge.