Riders of the Purple Sage

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Previously filmed three times, the evergreen Zane Grey yarn Riders of the Purple Sage was given a fourth go-round by 20th Century-Fox in 1941. George Montgomery stars as Jim Lassiter, who learns early on that his niece Fay (Patty Patterson) has been cheated out of her inheritance by crooked Judge Dyer (Robert Barrat). What Lassiter doesn't know-at least at first-is that Dyer is the head of a vigilante group, ostensibly organized to protect the local settlers but actually intent upon driving everyone out of the territory. Several acts of skullduggery and one kidnapping later, Lassiter is finally able to thwart the villains and settle down in a hidden valley with his sweetheart Jane Witherspoon (Mary Howard). Breezing along at 58 minutes, Riders of the Purple Sage by necessity eliminates several of Zane Grey's underlying themes (the villain is no longer a Mormon, for example), but works quite well as straightforward entertainment. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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