THE LAST MUSKETEER. Republic, 1952. Rex Allen, Koko (the Miracle Horse), Mary Ellen Kay, Slim Pickens, James Anderson, Michael Hall, The Republic Rhythm Riders. Director: William Witney.

   Someone more knowledgeable than I about B-western movies will have to explain (in the comments, if you would, if you can) why titles of B-western movies have so little to do with the movies as they were filmed, and this one (I shouldn’t have to tell you) is about as puzzling as they come.


   The son of Taskerville’s founder (with a statue of him in the town’s square, a touch I don’t remember seeing before in any western, B or not) is the villain of the piece. His reservoir is the only water in the valley, and his prices are so steep that the cattle of all of the other ranchers is curling up and dying.

   A fact that Rex Allen, cattle buyer, soon discovers as he rides into town. He also discovers the local divining wizard, Slim Pickens, being beaten up by Tasker’s men. Coming to Slim’s assistance, Rex then finds himself on the outs with Tasker’s men throughout the rest of the movie, and Tasker himself.

   Tasker is no ordinary villain, though. He has plans. A dam across the end of the valley, once the other ranchers have moved on, will generate electric power for the vicinity, then the whole state, then a big chuck of the entire West. No small planner, he.

   You may have noticed the presence of the Republic Rhythm Riders in this movie, and if you were to infer from that that this is a singing cowboy movie, you’d be right. A good portion of this film is taken up with songs and music (including the most horrible braying, there is no other word for it, by Slim). Rex is a pretty good yodeler, though; in fact, he’s better than OK, though I’m not sure I would have agreed when I was 10 years old, which is the age level this movie was aimed for.

   What I really wonder what I at that age would wondered about the ending of the movie, one in which the villain is defeated by a not-so-small case of breaking, entering and worse. By which I mean totally illegally. Foul means, unsportsmanlike conduct, and below the belt. All in a good cause, but still.