SUNDOWN IN SANTA FE. Republic Pictures, 1948. Allan ‘Rocky’ Lane, Eddy Waller, Roy Barcroft, Trevor Bardette, Jean Dean. Director: R. G. Springsteen.

   B-westerns get no respect. They’re seldom listed in any of the various video guides or other standard reference books. Mysteries of the same vintage and caliber seem to be included, even with the same production values and indifferent plots, but not the movies of Rocky Lane, Lash LaRue, or Sunset Carson. Not even the films of Roy Rogers, the King of the Cowboys himself. And hey, come on, they’re not that bad.

   To remedy that, to some small minor extent, I’m going to be including a few of them from time to time in these pages. Not a lot of them. Only the ones I watch, and if I watch too many of them, my mind will turn to mush, if I can say that without spoiling the point I was making, but what else can I say?

   The opening scenes are very promising. Armed robberies that are taking place near and about Santa Fe are linked by the discovery of similar daggers at the site of each, suggesting that somehow or another Walter Durant, leader of the Lincoln conspiracy ring, is involved. Rocky is sent in as an undercover investigator to find out exactly what is going on.

   There’s very little mystery to the affair, however, as it turns out, since the son of the sheriff that Rocky goes to work for soon shows his true colors. He’s in love with the daughter of the rancher who is running the gang, although the man (as it turns out) is not really the mastermind behind it all. While the secret identity if that man is no secret either, at least to the audience, it takes Rocky most of the picture to figure it out.

   There’s plenty of action, but there’s also too much plot for such a relatively short feature, and details of what’s happening (and why) soon get swamped in the desire to get the story over with in its allotted amount of running time. While Rocky is ruggedly handsome, there’s no love interest for him at all, and maybe that’s why as a kid, I liked his movies so much. No gooey, gloppy stuff for him, at least not in this one.

– Slightly revised from Mystery*File #30, April 1991.