Cast & Crew
Express agent Randy Bowers rides to Ed Rogers' desert "halfway house" and discovers the proprietor's slain body and a "wanted" poster inscribed with a threatening message from outlaw Marvin Black. Before he can defend himself, Randy is arrested by the sheriff and is escorted by the posse to the town jail. After the saloon clears, Ed's niece, Sally Rogers, emerges from a hiding place and checks her uncle's strong box, which is buried under the floorboards. Confident that the money is safe, Sally rides to town and agrees to view the suspect in his cell. While the sheriff is away, Randy shows Sally a letter from the Adams Express Company in which he is identified as an express agent who had been sent to protect Ed. Convinced of Randy's innocence, Sally slips him the cell key and leaves. Sally then is approached by storeowner Matt the Mute, in reality Marvin Black in an elaborate hunchback disguise, who offers to buy the saloon as a "goodwill" gesture. After Sally turns down Black's offer, Randy executes a perfect escape and rides to Sally's saloon. While Randy explains to Sally his preference to work alone, the sheriff and his posse descend on the house. During his second escape, Randy stumbles on Black's cave hideout, where he is discovered by Spike, one of Black's henchmen. At Black's insistence, Randy is initiated into the gang and is shown the mines of dynamite that protect the hideout. Determined to steal not only her land but her money as well, Black kidnaps Sally and, when she refuses to reveal the whereabouts of her money, locks her in a closet. During the night, however, Sally slips Randy the strong box key and tells him where the box is hidden. The next morning, Randy substitutes the strong box cash for a load of dynamite, then, having deduced that Black and Matt the Mute are the same person, leads the sheriff's posse to the hideout. During the ensuing shootout, Randy chases Black to the saloon, where the outlaw prepares to open the box. As Sally and the sheriff's posse arrive, an explosion destroys the saloon. Vindicated by the sheriff, Randy rides off with Sally.
Randy Rides Alone
By the time of Randy Rides Alone, released on June 15, 1934, Wayne had established himself as an indisputable star of the B movie world, though real, A-level stardom would not come until 1939's Stagecoach. Shot in less than a week on an $11,000 budget, Randy Rides Alone has a running time of under an hour and a plot that is structured as a variation of many of the other westerns in the series. The Motion Picture Herald, in its positive review, described it this way: "All the anticipated action is there, as Wayne, under suspicion as a bandit and a bad man, makes effective use of an assisted escape from prison to track down the gang which is guilty of the crime for which he was held."
Canutt later said that the plots for these little westerns tended to come straight from producer Paul Malvern, whom he described as "a really nice guy. [Malvern] said he'd been reading dime novels since he was a kid, and a lot of the plots for those films came from the novels he read. He reckoned he had about a hundred of these stories in his head."
In most of the Lone Star westerns, Wayne played good-guy gunmen, but he was consciously interested in adding something new to the type. He later told author Michael Munn, "All the screen cowboys behaved like real gentlemen. They didn't drink, they didn't smoke. When they knocked the bad guy down, they always stood with their fists up, waiting for the heavy to get back on his feet. I decided I was going to drag the bad guy to his feet and keep hitting him. I learned that as a kid from watching the westerns Harry Carey made with John Ford. He had realism, he was a real man, and I decided that's what my screen cowboy would be like."
This meant that much stunt work was required, and for that Wayne worked with legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt, a former rodeo cowboy who would eventually become the top stunt choreographer in the industry. One of his biggest claims to fame would be staging and actually directing the chariot race in Ben-Hur (1959). But for now, Canutt was honing smaller stunt techniques, doubling Wayne and other stars, and often appearing as an actor as well. Sometimes, when he doubled Wayne in a film in which he also played a separate character, he was literally chasing himself!
Working with Wayne, Canutt refined fist-fighting techniques for the screen: "You look at other films of the period or earlier," Canutt said, "and you see these guys bashing away at each other's shoulder, and it never looked real. What Wayne and I did was develop a way of standing at a certain angle to the camera and throwing punches to the face, just missing but looking to the camera like the fist had made contact. In fact, I would say that no one has ever been able to make a screen fistfight look as good as Wayne, even when he was older."
Co-starring in Randy Rides Alone is Alberta Vaughn, who had acted in numerous Mack Sennett and Buster Keaton comedies of the 1920s. Within months of making this film, she married a businessman and left the industry.
By Jeremy Arnold
Yakima Canutt, Stunt Man
William K. Everson, The Hollywood Western
Fred Landesman, The John Wayne Filmography
Michael Munn, John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth
Randy Rides Alone
The working title of this film was Randy Rides Again. According to a April 25, 1934 Hollywood Reporter news item, production on the film was delayed due to John Wayne's illness. The same article noted that Alberta Vaughn replaced Cecilia Parker in the film. Modern sources add Mack V. Wright (Posse member) and Herman Hack to the cast, and credit Abe Meyer as musical director. For more information about John Wayne's Monogram-Lone Star westerns, see entry for Riders of Destiny.
Released in United States 1934
Released in United States 1934