Cast & Crew
In the California hills, Bob Culpepper, a college-educated gold prospector from Tennessee, helps seasoned prospector Silas "Solitaire" Carter defend himself against an intruder's ambush. While digging a grave for the intruder, Bob uncovers a vein of gold that leads to a "mother lode" in a nearby mountain. Ecstatic, Bob and Solitaire head for town to make their claim, but stop to scare off a gang of outlaws who are robbing a stagecoach. The moment Bob sees Nellie Brian, a passenger on the coach, he falls in love with her, and although Nellie, a saloon singer, is equally enamored of the manly Bob, her ambitious mother pushes her to entertain Jack Hanway, the prosperous saloon owner. Unknown to Mrs. Brian and Nellie, Hanway is the leader of the same gang that robbed the stagecoach and took a valuable necklace from Nellie. After Nellie confesses her love for him, Bob cajoles "Missouri," one of Hanway's henchmen, to give him the necklace. Jealous of Bob, Hanway arranges with Missouri and the other outlaws to stage a saloon holdup, which he "bravely" thwarts at the appropriate moment. When Bob tries to expose Hanway's scheme in front of Nellie, Missouri accuses him of being involved in the stagecoach robbery and cites Nellie's necklace as proof. While Bob sits in jail with Missouri, Hanway romances Nellie, who now believes that Bob is a thief. Soon, however, Nellie overhears Hanway plotting to jump Bob's claim, but is unable to alert the drunken Solitaire to the scheme. To prevent Hanway from filing his claim, Nellie makes an early breakfast date with him, then keeps him waiting at the hotel while she files the claim herself. When Solitaire discovers Nellie's claim, he rushes to tell Bob, who assumes that the singer has conspired with Hanway. By staging a phony hanging with a reformed Missouri, Bob escapes from jail and abducts Nellie from Hanway's table. Bob ties Nellie in a straightjacket and forces her to ride with him to the gold claim. After a day of riding together, Nellie and Bob accept the other's innocence and pledge their love. When they arrive at the claim, however, they are surprised by Hanway and his men, who take Bob prisoner. After forcing her back to town, Hanway proposes to Nellie, and to buy time for Bob, she accepts. Solitaire then rides to the claim and arranges with Missouri to have Bob hanged. During the phony hanging, Bob, Missouri and Solitaire flee and ride to town in time to stop Nellie's wedding and expose Hanway as a thief.
John Francis Larkin
Van Nest Polglase
Earl A. Wolcott
B-movie favorite Richard Dix heads up the cast of Yellow Dust. The actor spent fourteen years at RKO, from 1929 to 1943, where he starred in 30-plus films, mostly adventure and western programmers. All of this was a little off track from Dix's original career goal to become a surgeon. But after appearing in school plays and taking evening drama courses, a talent for acting could not be ignored. Dix joined a local stock company in Minnesota before finally landing a lead role with the Morosco Stock Company in Los Angeles. He made his Hollywood debut in Not Guilty (1921) for Paramount and turned out picture after picture for the studio in the '20s. Some of Dix's most notable Paramount films include: the behind-the-scenes Hollywood tale Souls for Sale (1923); the Zane Grey adaptation The Vanishing American (1925); an appearance in the modern portion of Cecil B. DeMille's early The Ten Commandments (1923); and opposite Jean Arthur in the baseball picture Warming Up (1928), which was Paramount's first feature with synchronized music and effects.
Dix made the jump to RKO in the mystery-comedy Seven Keys to Baldpate (1929). He, and the studio, soon had a major success with Cimarron (1931), which won the Best Picture Oscar® and earned Dix a Best Actor nomination. It would be Dix's only Oscar® nomination and the only film produced by RKO to be named Best Picture. Other memorable Dix-RKO efforts include: the war drama Ace of Aces (1933), the aviation thriller The Lost Squadron (1932) and Val Lewton's The Ghost Ship (1943). Dix rounded out his career in a series of Whistler films at Columbia before illness forced him to retire in 1947.
Joining Dix in Yellow Dust are some familiar supporting players. There's Andy Clyde in the role of Solitary. Clyde got his movie start with Mack Sennett as an extra in comedy shorts. He signed with Columbia in 1934 and cranked out innumerable short films over the next twenty-two years. Clyde also played sidekick to William Boyd in the Hopalong Cassidy series of films and he still found time to appear in the occasional feature, such as Annie Oakley (1935) and It's a Wonderful World (1939). Yellow Dust also features Onslow Stevens as the bad guy Hanway. Stevens was a busy character actor who left his mark on films such as The Three Musketeers (1935) where he played Aramis; House of Dracula (1945) with Lon Chaney, Jr.; the Bogart vehicle Sirocco (1951); and the atomic era sci-fi film Them! (1954).
Finally, there's Leila Hyams who plays Nellie in Yellow Dust. Hyams is likely best remembered for playing Venus in Tod Browning's Freaks (1932). She also appeared in the radio spectacular The Big Broadcast (1932) alongside stars like Bing Crosby and George Burns and Gracie Allen and worked with Jean Harlow in Red-Headed Woman (1932). She also starred in the 1933 version of Island of Lost Souls (1933) with Charles Laughton. Hyams would retire from the movies in 1936; Yellow Dust would be her final film.
Producer: Cliff Reid
Director: Wallace Fox
Screenplay: Cyril Hume, John Twist (based on the play "Mother Lode" by George O'Neil & Dan Totheroh)
Cinematography: Edward Cronjager
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase
Music: Alberto Colombo
Film Editing: James B. Morley
Cast: Richard Dix (Bob Culpepper), Leila Hyams (Nellie Brian), Moroni Olsen (Missouri), Jessie Ralph (Mrs. Brian), Andy Clyde (Silas 'Solitary' Carter), Onslow Stevens (Jack Hanway).
by Stephanie Thames
The working title of this film was Mother Lode. According to a December 1934 Hollywood Reporter news item, Helen Gahagan was first considered for the female lead in the picture. Hollywood Reporter production charts add George Lollier, Dorothy Colburn and Art Mix to the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. In the same production charts, John Francis Larkin, not Cyril Hume and John Twist, is listed as screenwriter, and John Tribby, not Earl A. Wolcott, is credited as sound recorder. Larkin's contribution to the final script has not been determined. According to a Daily Variety news item, scenes for the production were shot near Sonora, CA.