"The Fighting Legion" (1930) Ken Maynard

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R Michael Pyle
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Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 1:10 pm

"The Fighting Legion" (1930) Ken Maynard

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Mon Aug 02, 2010 6:30 am

I'm curious: I watched this last night and wondered if anyone here could possibly tell me the production dates. It was released 6 April 1930, but appears to me to be an earlier production. Am I all wrong?

Anyway, here's a review I placed somewhere else, and in case you're curious about this -

I wanted something easy last night, so I decided on a western. Now, the "good-badman" was a character made rather famous by William S. Hart in several of his films, but many actors portrayed that style of character throughout most of moviemaking until Bogart cemented the fame for a similar character that has since been known as an anti-hero. Nevertheless, the early westerns show a tough hombre in many of its heroes. The toughness was no doubt part of the necessary adjuncts of personality just to stay alive in some of those tough towns in the old west.

Last night I watched "The Fighting Legion" (1930) with Ken Maynard, his horse Tarzan, Dorothy Dwan, Frank Rice, Ernie Adams, Harry Todd, Stanley Blystone, Robert Walker, and J. C. Fowler. I must admit that one of the things that attracted me to watch this was the fact that it was released 6 April 1930, and it's a silent. Well, upon watching I also think that it was made a year or two earlier, but for some reason held up for release. I may be wrong, but it has all the earmarks of earlier filmmaking.

Nevertheless, it begins with Robert Walker chasing on horseback very quickly both Ken Maynard and Frank Rice. It seems they've been very naughty hombres and are headed for the hoosegow, if not worse. They outrun Walker who falls from his horse and knocks himself out, nearly drowning himself besides. Well, Maynard and Frank Rice can't have this, so they go back and help him. (The good-badguys!) Walker lets them go when its all over, but gets killed anyway by someone waiting for him farther up the trail. Maynard and Rice go back to Bowden, where Walker was going to be setting up as a Texas ranger, and they take his place, trying to find out who killed him.

The rest of the show is Maynard cleaning up the town of its tough hombres, most of whom are in a gang run by J. C. Fowler, but whose main henchman is stalwart and standard bad guy, Stanley Blystone, a guy, by the way, who really does look tough! Along for the ride and uncredited are standard western actors Bud McClure, Chris-Pin Martin, Lafe McKee, Tom Forman, and Blackjack Ward. A tougher group never appeared in a western! Along the way, also, Maynard falls for lovely Dorothy Dwan - in her last film. She has little to do but look pretty and get captured by a baddie in another scene, but guess who rescues her? Yep... At the end Maynard and Rice are sworn in as Texas rangers - naturally! What did you expect? Anything different would have been a Joe E. Brown movie, Dummie! And even HE would have been sworn in as something, though it probably would have been a Baja ranger or a G E range...

All I can say is that Frank Rice, playing the sidekick of Maynard, playing him as a gainsaying comic with lots of great poses, makes the film a hoot. There are also three comic good guys who are tougher than all the toughs in town. At first you think they're bad - and I mean bad! The addition of those three makes this film so much fun! I kept thinking that if this film were shown today in a theater people wouldn't be able to figure it out. Is it a comedy or a tragedy or a romance or just a shoot-'em-up? Well, it's all of these, although, upon reflection, I only remember one gun shot.

A fun film certainly! Great entertainment for 74 minutes. Black and white - no tints. From Grapevine.

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