The Devil's Playground
Cast & Crew
As they ride through the rocky, deserted area known as the Devil's Playground, Hopalong Cassidy teases his sidekicks, California Carlson and Lucky Jenkins, with the story of an Indian maiden who is supposed to haunt the region. When the trio returns to their cabin that night, they discover that a wounded woman has taken refuge there. Hoppy bandages her wounds, but she refuses to explain how she got them. Later, leaving California and Lucky to guard the cabin, Hoppy investigates in the Devil's Playground. There he encounters Judge Morton and his companions, Roberts, Wolfe and Shorty. Morton tells Hoppy that they are searching for his daughter, who tried to kill herself. When Hoppy informs them that she is nearby, Shorty tries to tell him something, but is silenced by Morton. Leaving Shorty behind, the men accompany Hoppy to his cabin. On the way, Morton contrives to send Roberts back to camp to kill Shorty. When the men reach the cabin, they learn that the mysterious woman has disappeared and their angry reaction rouses Hoppy's suspicions. Later, when Hoppy, California and Lucky ride into town, Dan'l, the deputy, tells the men that Morton does not have a daughter and adds that Morton, who once sentenced a man named Curly Evans to jail for robbery, is now searching for the gold that Evans stole. Hoppy and his sidekicks return to the Devil's Playground to question Shorty and find his body. Alongside Shorty's body is a rude map with a message. After Hoppy and his partners bring Shorty's body to town, the sheriff forms a posse to capture Morton. Despite Roberts' claims that he killed Shorty in self-defense, the sheriff puts all of Morton's men in jail, along with Hoppy, California and Lucky. While Dan'l looks for the missing woman, Morton gains the sheriff's confidence. Then Hoppy spots the woman riding by the jail, dressed in clothes that she stole from California. Through a ruse, the men escape from jail and use Shorty's map to find her. The woman tells Hoppy that Morton tried to kill her to get her map to the gold. Hoppy replies that the money belongs to the bank and persuades her to return to town with him. Back in town, Morton and his men break out of jail and steal the woman's map. Using a shortcut, Hoppy and his companions arrive at the hiding place before Morton, but Evans, who has broken out of jail, has gotten there first. He tells Hoppy that he intends to return the gold and clear his name. When Morton and his men finally arrive, a gunfight ensues, but Hoppy gets the drop on Morton and holds him and his men until the U.S. Marshal arrives. Later, Evans returns the money in exchange for a shorter sentence. The mysterious woman is revealed to be Evans's wife, which is a great disappointment to Lucky.
Joseph J. Greene
The Hollywood Reporter review notes that the film was shot on location at Lone Pine, CA. This was the first in the "new" Hopalong Cassidy series of films produced by William Boyd's company, Hopalong Cassidy Productions, and released through United Artists. According to modern sources, Hopalong Cassidy Productions and some other investors built a new western street, which they named "Anchorville," on the Spainhower ranch in Lone Pine. Modern sources add Glenn Strange to the cast. For additional information on the series, consult the Series Index and see the entry for Hop-Along Cassidy in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.1990.