Westward Ho

Westward Ho

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Westward Ho Reviews

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January 22, 2013
Westward Ho! (Robert N. Bradbury, 1935)

One of John Wayne's better Robert Bradbury-directed two-reelers for Lone Star Pictures, and the first under the Republic banner, Westward Ho! Pits brother against brother in a classic (and yes, you can read that as a euphemism for "derivative") tale of mistaken identity and revenge. Wayne plays John Wyatt, who as a child (an early role for child star Bradley Metcalfe) watched a gang of bandits kill his parents and kidnap his brother. Fast-forward a decade and change and Wyatt is now the head of the Singing Riders, a vigilante group who are dedicated to protecting the safety of the wagon trains from bandits like those who preyed on Wyatt's family. Wyatt, of course, is always on the lookout for that particular bunch, headed up by the nefarious Ballard (character actor Jack Curtis, who turned in uncredited roles in such classics as Citizen Kane, My Darling Clementine, and White Fang). When he finds Ballard's gang, one of its younger members looks familiar...it's standard two-dimensional stuff, where the good guys are pure as spring water and the bad guys are the worst things EVER, though screenwriters Robert Emmett Tansey and Lindsley Parsons do stir things up a little with the whole kidnapped-brother angle (Wyatt, of course, has to show his younger brother, played as an adult by Frank McGlynn Jr., who died under mysterious circumstances in 1939 just as his career was taking off, the error of his ways). But it's pretty darned enjoyable, probably the best pre-Stagecoach John Wayne flick I've seen so far. ***
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