Sun 28 Feb 2010
THE LAW OF THE 45’s. Normandy Pictures, 1935. Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams (Tucson ‘Two-Gun’ Smith), Molly O’Day, Al St. John (Stoney Martin), Ted Adams, Lafe McKee, Fred Burns. Screenplay: Robert Emmett Tansey, based on the novel by William Colt MacDonald (Law of the Forty-Fives, Covici Friede, 1933). Director: John P. McCarthy.
To start off, to put off the inevitable and to put it bluntly, there is absolutely no reason anyone should watch this Bottom of the Barrel B-Western movie except for historical reasons.
To wit: although not officially part of the canon, and even though only two of them show up, and one of them has the wrong name, this is the first of the “Three Mesquiteers” movies, of which there were 51 more to come, beginning in 1936 and ending in 1943.
Although many players played the three cowboys over the years, the ones I remember most are Robert Livingston as Stony Brooke, Ray Corrigan as Tucson Smith, and Max Terhune as Lullaby Joslin. You may have your own favorite threesome, but as much as I liked Bob Steele as a cowboy star (Tucson Smith in the last 13 of them), the ones above were mine.
Some movies with a running time of 57 minutes have so much crammed into them that each and every scene has a crucial part of the story line in it. Not so with Law of the .45’s. It is the longest 57 minutes I can remember sitting through since grad school. The acting is a mixture of old-fashioned silent movie stars trying to figure out what the microphone is doing there, with pauses for emphasis that you could plow an 18-wheeler through, while other of the players seem to have taken nicely to the new technology, speaking in normal tones and normal rhythms.
Story: a crooked lawyer is apparently behind the gang of outlaws terrorizing the valley where Tucson and Stoney are bringing their herd of cattle, and the latter agree to work for Joan Hayden (Molly O’Day) and her father (Lafe McKee) to bring peace and justice back to the land again.
Other than that, there is little but cowboys riding here and there in the hills, ranches being burned to the ground and cattle stampeding (as cattle are wont to do) — all very exciting, or it would be if you care for watching cowboys riding here and there in the hills, sometimes at very high speeds. There is also a group of singing wranglers, unnamed as a group or individually in the movie’s credits, but their identities can be found on the know-all IMDB page for the film.
As for Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, he gets to grimace and squint a lot, but on the other hand, he also gets the girl.