Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         

TRAIL GUIDE. RKO Radio Pictures, 1952. Tim Holt, Linda Douglas, Richard Martin, Frank Wilcox, Robert Sherwood, John Pickard, Kenneth MacDonald. Director: Lesley Selander.

   Maybe in 1952 the market had changed and B-Westerns – especially those in black and white – were no longer in demand, and apparently Trail Guide, one of the last Tim Holt RKO westerns, did not make money at the box office. But I found this entry in the series to be an above average oater, one that zips along at a good pace and one with enough grittiness to make it as appealing to adults as to the kiddie matinee crowd. Indeed, there is something of a William Witney feel to this Lesley Selander directed production. Having character actor Frank Wilcox portray the villain wasn’t a bad move either.

   The plot: After Tim Holt and his perennially womanizing sidekick Chito Rafferty (Richard Martin) have finished guiding a wagon train out West, they run afoul of cattle ranchers who are none to eager to have homesteaders on their land. Totally original right? But the plot gets a goes off in another direction when the duo stumble upon a bigger criminal enterprise, one that gets not only the local marshal killed, but also the brother of lovely ranch owner Peg Masters (Linda Douglas).

   That angers Holt enough that he threatens to beat the truth out of one of the bad guys. And beat it out of him he does. He also slams the guy’s hand in a desk drawer. What did I say about a William Witney feel?

All told, Trail Guide is not a great film and it’s not something that you probably ought to go well out of your way to see. But if you do happen to catch it, you might be pleasantly surprised about how solidly crafted it is. This one didn’t deserve to lose a dime.