Cast & Crew
Because the Oro Grande Mining Company, which ships gold on buses, is being crippled by robberies, Stony Brooke parachutes from a small plane onto the bus route and saves it from being robbed, aided by his fellow Mesquiteers, Tucson Smith and Lullaby Joslin. After the Mesquiteers get a badly needed $1,000 reward for their work, Stony convinces mining company president Frank Harmon to hire pilot Ned Hoyt to transport his gold, and puts up the reward for half-interest in the venture. Stony suggests to Ned that he buy a bigger plane to ship passengers as well as cargo, but Ned is reluctant as he once lost his pilot's license for a year and changed his name to keep his identity a secret. Stony then suggests to the townspeople, who are "cattle poor," that they buy into the new airline, using their cattle as collateral. Soon they hire a second pilot, Bob Whitney, who knows that Ned and his sister Beth's real family name is Vincent, but keeps their secret out of friendship. Radio operator Joe Waddell, a former flyer who lost his nerve six years previously, wants to co-pilot with Ned, and is jealous when Ned instead chooses Bob. Mullins, who heads the bus company, then approaches Joe with an idea, and shortly thereafter a cattle train is heldup. One of the cattlemen, though wounded, rides to the airfield and tells the Mesquiteers, who ride to the train in time to save the cattle. Soon the "air express" opens to great success. One day, on the bus, Mullins overhears two men talking about Ned after seeing his name in the paper. A short time later, the same two men hold up the passengers on the plane and kill Bob. Though Joe receives the distress message, he does nothing, but when Stony and Beth see parachutes mysteriously floating in the sky, they rush to the airport. Because Ned has emptied the fuel tank, the two killers need him to land, but the plane does not come back to the airport and soon everyone in the territory knows that a $100,000 gold shipment is missing. When word breaks that Ned had once been in prison, he becomes the prime suspect in the robbery. After the two killers secretly radio Joe, Joe informs Mullins, but Mullins refuses to let Joe go to them. Meanwhile, Stony, who thinks that the robbery is an inside job, questions the passengers, who were forced to parachute from the plane, and learns that just after the robbery, Ned had called Joe on the radio. The Mesquiteers then tie Joe up and trick the killers when Lullaby disguises his voice like Joe's on the radio and asks their location. Then, while the Mesquiteers ride to the plane, Beth finds Joe, who tells her he has been robbed. While she tries to call the sheriff, Joe cuts the telephone lines, then goes to warn Mullins. At the plane site, the Mesquiteers overpower the killers and attempt to leave, but are soon met by Mullins and his gang. Stony makes a break for their horses, and the Mesquiteers take the gold, but Ned is wounded. Soon, with the aid of smoke bombs, the Mesquiteers defeat Mullins and his gang just as the sheriff, who found Beth at the airport, comes to arrest them. Finally, with the mystery of the robberies solved, a recovered Ned flies off to merge with another airline.
Frank La Rue
This was Louise Brooks' final film. Contrary to popular rumor, this was not intended to be her "comeback" to Hollywood; she made it because she needed the money. She was paid $300 for the film. Not long after it was released, she was found working as a salesgirl at Saks Fifth Avenue at a salary of $40 a week.
Although the Film Daily review indicates that John Wayne played Stony Brooke for the first time, actually he made his second appearance as Stony in this picture, following Pals of the Saddle (see below). Shortly after the release of this film, Ralph Bowman changed his name to John Archer, by which he was more commonly known. This was the last film made by actress Louise Brooks, an American who began acting in silent films in 1925 but became best known for her roles in the 1929 German films Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, both directed by G. W. Pabst. Brooks, who became a writer in the later part of her life, died in 1985. Modern sources add the following additional cast members: Yakima Canutt, Milton Kibbee, Jack Kirk, Slim Whitaker, Bud Osborne, Dirk Thane, Bud McClure, John Beach, Curley Dresden, George Plues, Edwin Gaffney, Fred Burns, George Morrell, Bill Wolfe and Tommy Coats. For additional information on the series, consult the Series Index and see the entry below for The Three Mesquiteers.
Released in United States 1938
Released in United States 1938