Boothill Brigade / Lawless Land (Double Feature)
Boothill Brigade (1937):
Roughnecks hired to survey property lines for crooked cattleman Jeff Reynolds threaten to evict families from their land - violently if necessary. Rancher Lon Cardigan also stands to lose his property to the underhanded land-grabber, but nevertheless aims to prevent a bloody range war between Reynolds and the displaced homesteaders. It soon becomes obvious that the only way for the rightful land owners to fend off the swindler and his thugs is to fight or die trying.
This western was one of six collaborations between Johnny Mack Brown and prolific director Sam Newfield in 1937. The star was a former All-American halfback at the University of Alabama who turned down professional football offers to pursue a Hollywood career. An MGM contract in 1927 led to leading roles in westerns, and between 1942 and 1950, Brown was among the top-grossing Western movie stars.
Ranger Jeff Hayden arrives in town too late to prevent the murder of his friend, the local sheriff. Clay Wheeler capitalizes on the tragedy by getting himself elected to the victim's post on a "law-and-order" platform, claiming that a gang of cattle thieves are responsible for the killing. Soon the town doctor is also found shot to death. Hayden discovers that the two murder victims were friends of Letty Winston's deceased father and Wheeler has secretly been taking over her inheritance. Once the villain realizes that Hayden is wise to his crimes, the ruthless manipulator vows, "I'm gonna deal Hayden nothin' but misery from now on!"
An electrifying stunt features a wagon speeding over the side of a cliff within seconds of a man and woman jumping to safety. Although cinematographer Jack Greenhalgh efficiently photographed dozens of westerns during the 1930s, the most famous movie on his resume is a 1938 independent release called Tell Your Children - known today by its reissue title, Reefer Madness.