Wagons Westward


1h 9m 1940

Brief Synopsis

Republic, in pre-producion trade announcements, had John Wayne slated as the star of this film but cooler heads, once the script was read, realized that Wayne wasn't exactly the dual-role, twin brothers type. The film opens by establishing that, as young boys, David Cook (Wayne Hull) and twin brother Tom (Warren Hull (II) ) are poles apart in disposition and traits. When their father, (Trevor Bardette) dies, Tom goes to New Mexico to live with his Uncle Hardtack (George "Gabby" Hayes) while David remains behind to care for their mother (Virginia Brissac) . The grown Tom (Chester Morris) becomes an outlaw while brother David (Chester Morris) becomes a government lawman. David is charged with apprehending Tom and also two other renegades, Hardman (Guinn Williams) and Marsden (Douglas Fowley), both bitter enemies of Tom. Unable to arrest Tom in his home territory because he is in league with crooked sheriff McDaniels (Buck Jones, in his only Republic film and only villain role in what is considered the only black mark against Republic by hard-core western fans. They are correct, for that and other reasons seen as this one moves along...slowly.) Tom is lured home by a fake telegram telling him his mother is dying and put in jail. David, posing as Tom, goes to Mesa City, New Mexico and undertakes a campaign to obtain evidence to convict Hardman and Marsden. He persuades the latter to pool their interests in one gang, under his leadership. Tom had been romancing Phyllis O'Conover (Anita Louise), an entertainer at the Bonanza Cafe, and Phyllis' older sister, Julie (Ona Munson), has been working hard to break up the romance. David, posing as Tom, has to continue the pursuit of Phyllis, but finds himself falling in love with Julie. Julie learns Tom's real identity and agrees to marry him but Phyllis, thinking her sister is taking from her the man she believes to be Tom Cook, threatens suicide. The broken-hearted Julie urges David to marry Phyllis and David, much against his own desires, carries out Julie's wishes. (The mis-casting of Buck Jones isn't the only problem with this film.) Meanwhile, Hardman, Marsden and McDaniel have discovered David's real identity and plot to get rid of him. And in another meanwhile, Tom escapes, returns to town and, finding that Phyllis has married David, kills her for what seems to him to be her unfaithfulness, never mind that she thought David was Tom. Some days, a good girl just can't get a break. Tom and the other outlaws are lined up against David in a gun battle when Pima (Charles Stevens), Tom's Indian servant, who has long hated him for his cruelties, brings a large force of Indians to David's aid. Tom attempts to kill David, but Uncle Hardtack shoots him first. Some days, a bad guy just can't get a break either.

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 19, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 9m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Although identical in appearance, twins David and Tom Cook exhibit vastly different temperaments: David is as kind and honorable as Tom is cruel and vicious. Upon their father's death, Tom goes to live with his uncle Hardtack in New Mexico, while David remains behind to care for their mother. Tom develops into a malevolent outlaw, while David becomes a man of the law and is assigned to apprehend Tom and two other renegades, Jack Hardman and Bill Marsden. Because Tom controls Sheriff Jim McDaniels, he has been invulnerable to the law in New Mexico, and so, David lures his brother home by sending him a fake telegram telling of his mother's illness. When Tom returns home, they lock him in jail. Posing as Tom, David then rides to New Mexico and undertakes a campaign to convict Marsden and Hardman by persuading them to pool their gangs under his leadership. Before his imprisonment, Tom had been courting Phyllis O'Conover, an entertainer at the Bonanza Dance Hall, although her older sister Julie strongly objected to the alliance. David continues his brother's courtship, but finds himself falling in love with Julie. Upon learning David's true identity, Julie promises to marry him, and Phyllis, believing that her sister is stealing her beau, threatens suicide. Julie, broken-hearted, urges David to marry her sister, and the honorable David consents to the match. Using a government wagon train laden with gold bullion as a decoy, David plans to trap the outlaws at Black Canyon, but before he can implement his plan, Tom escapes from jail and rides for New Mexico. When McDaniels intercepts a telegram telling of Tom's escape, he and Marsden take David prisoner. Pima, Tom's Indian servant who detests his master for his cruelty, sees David's capture and comes to his rescue. As David and Pima ride to warn the wagon train of danger, Tom arrives in Mesa City, where he kills Phyllis for her faithlessness. Meanwhile, at Black Canyon, David, with the help of Pima and his band of Indians, holds off the outlaws and arrests Hardman and McDaniels. Just as the battle ends, Hardtack arrives and warns David that Tom is in town. David gallops back to town, and the two brothers face each other at the Bonanza Dance Hall. In the ensuing gun fight, Tom wounds David and is about to finish him off when Hardtack shoots him before he can pull the trigger. After mourning the death of her sister, Julie finally agrees to marry David.

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 19, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 9m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Modern sources note that Edmund Cobb, Joe McGuinn and Tex Cooper appeared in this picture.