Beyond the Last Frontier
Cast & Crew
Texas Ranger John Paul Revere works undercover to infiltrate the gang of Big Bill Hadley, who hides in the Texas Panhandle, over which the rangers have no jurisdiction. One day, Johnny alerts his contacts, fellow rangers Frog Millhouse, "Sarge" Kincaid and Major Cook, that the gang intends to raid a stagecoach carrying valuable medical supplies. Sarge goes to the nearby town of Marcy, where he greets his son Steve, who has been away at college. With Steve is his friend, Trigger Dolan, an insolent forture hunter who ridicules Sarge's aspirations for Steve to join the rangers. After Sarge sends Steve to the ranger recruiting office, he joins Frog and the major on their mission to guard the medical supplies. Although they are no match for the greater number of robbers, Johnny does attempt to persuade Hadley to let them go. Hadley nonethless shoots Sarge, who, as he is dying, makes Johnny promise to watch over Steve. Meanwhile, in Marcy, Hadley realizes that there is an informant in the gang, and arranges for Trigger, with whom he was to do a business deal, to join the rangers as his informant. Because Trigger refuses to have his picture taken at the recruiting station, Hadley kidnaps Steve and gives Trigger his papers. When Trigger arrives at the ranger outpost, everyone believes that he is Steve and welcomes him onto the force. Trigger quickly identifies Johnny as the undercover man, although Frog and ranger Slade thwart the gang's attempt to kill him. Later, Trigger attempts to help Hadley move a shipment of guns through ranger territory, but Johnny is able to capture the wagons. Still believing that Trigger is Steve, Johnny covers up for him by saying that the gang's escape is his own fault, and is subsequently confined to quarters. Touched by Johnny's faith in him, Trigger tells Hadley that he is through, but Hadley threatens to kill Steve if Trigger does not help retrieve the wagons. Trigger lets the gang into the rangers' barn, in which the wagons are stored, but his plans go awry when Frog enters. Hadley knocks Frog out, then sets fire to the barn before escaping with the weapons. Unwilling to desert Frog, Trigger returns to the barn and rescues him. After he recovers, Frog tells Johnny and the others that Trigger is working for Bill, and they trail the wagons' tracks. When he sees Johnny and Frog, Hadley accuses Trigger of double-crossing him, and during the ensuing confrontation, Trigger is able to convince Johnny that he no longer is a willing accomplice of the gang. One of Hadley's henchmen, Clyde Barton, shoots Trigger in the back, but he is only wounded, and soon the rangers round up the gang after Hadley is killed by an overturned wagon. Later, Johnny and Frog convince Major Cook to let the reformed Trigger stay in the rangers, and then they request a transfer to seek other adventures.
This picture was the first in Republic's "John Paul Revere" series. As a August 30, 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item and several reviews noted, Eddie Dew was to be the star of eight pictures in the series, but after making the second film, Raiders of Sunset Pass, he was released at his own request from his contract with Republic. The Hollywood Reporter item reported that Dew wanted to be starred in non-Western pictures, but Republic declined to feature him in films other than Westerns. Robert Livingston starred in the next two "John Paul Revere" pictures, Pride of the Plains and Beneath Western Skies, both of which were released in 1944. Smiley Burnette continued as the co-star. Although a June 24, 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Burnette was to receive above title billing for Beyond the Last Frontier along with Dew, neither he nor Dew receive star billing. Modern sources include the following actors in the cast: Cactus Mack, Art Dillard, Henry Wills, Curley Dresden, Al Taylor and Frank O'Connor.