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Desperate Trails

Desperate Trails(1939)

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Brief Synopsis

Following 1939's "The Phantom Stage", the last of 12 series westerns made at Universal by Trem Carr and Paul Malvern starring Bob Baker, Universal kicked off a new series of six starring their new series-sign Johnny Mack Brown (who had already starred in three Universal serials with one more to go.) Baker was now odd-man-out at the studio as his contract had been with Trem Carr, and Carr and associate Malvern had moved over to Monogram to begin a series of four "Tailspin Tommy" features. Universal, usually late to the party anyway, added Baker and comedian Fuzzy Knight to the first-six Brown films to form a trio angle along the lines of Republic's highly successful "Three Mesquiteers" series, but there were no continuing roles in these films---they even killed Baker off in the 2nd film---and Baker's 2nd-lead soon went to 3rd-lead (behind Knight) and then to "gone" after the sixth film. When Bob Baker was next seen in a film at Universal, it was as the uncredited bus driver in Abbott and Costello's "Ride 'Em Cowboy" in 1942. From this point onward, Fuzzy Knight was the sidekick in every B-series western made by Universal until they closed shop on series westerns and serial production when they merged with International Pictures to become Universal-International:In this one, Steve Hayden (Johnny Mack Brown), working undercover, comes to Denton to help restore law and order. The men secretly responsible for the lawlessness are Big Bill Tanner (Russell Simpson) and Melenkthy Culp (Clarence Wilson), the town banker. (A pairing made in filmdom heaven since the meaner and more desperate the two become, the more enjoyable they are to watch.) Judith Lantry (Frances Robinson) arrives from back east to check on her ranch holdings ran by her cousin Bill "Cousin Willie" Strong (Fuzzy Knight), and Tanner and Culp, fearful she will discover the faked mortgages they put on her property, send henchman Ortega (Charles Stevens) to do away with her, but Steve saves her life. She and Cousin Willie put Steve in charge of the ranch, and he quickly fires her crooked foreman Lon (Ralph Dunn), and hires Clem Waters (Bob Baker) and a whole new group of cowhands. Steve captures Lon with 200 head of horses belong to Judith, and he confesses and implicates Tanner and Culp.

Cast & Crew

Albert Ray Director
Johnny Mack Brown Steven Hayden
Bob Baker Clem [Waters]
Fuzzy Knight Cousin Willie [Strong]
Frances Robinson Judith Lantry
Russell Simpson Big Bill Tanner
Clarence Wilson Malenkthy Culp
Fern Emmett Mrs. Plunkett
Ed Cassidy Marshal Cort
SEE ALL CAST AND CREW

Additional Details

MPAA Ratings:  Premiere Info:  not available
Release Date:  1939 Production Date:  none available
Color/B&W:  Black and White Distributions Co:  Universal Pictures Co.
Sound:  Mono Production Co:  Universal Pictures Co.
Duration(mins):  56 Country:  United States
Duration(feet):  not available    
Duration(reels):  6    

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