The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

THE NIGHT RIDERS (1939) ***

A scheming forger and a no-good card shark swindle a bunch of land from the honest, hardworking people of Mesquite, including the ranch owned by The Three Mesquiteers, Stony Brooke (John Wayne), Tucson Smith (Ray “Crash” Corrigan), and Lullaby Johnson (Max Terhune).  They fight back against the shady land snatchers and come to the aid of the oppressed townsfolk by robbing the villains’ tax collectors, and returning it back to the people a la Robin Hood.  They even get a boost from President Garfield, who helps them in their quest for justice. 

 

This was Wayne’s fifth time in the saddle as the leader of The Three Mesquiteers and it’s one of their best.  Props has to go to a beefier story, more despicable villains and better action scenes (featuring everything from shootouts, to runaway stagecoaches to barroom brawls).  Usually, these hour long programmers reuse the same plot again and again, but The Night Riders is a little different.  I especially enjoyed the way the Mesquiteers dressed up in white masks and capes and robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.

 

Wayne’s easy charisma carries the flick along and fine turns by Corrigan and Terhune help a lot too.  What gives The Night Riders the edge over the other Mesquiteer flicks is that the trio of do-gooders actually has a mythic kind of status in this one.  Sure, they were always the good guys, but here they attain a larger than life quality that they’ve never had before. 

 

Director George Sherman also helmed another Mesquiteer adventure, New Frontier the same year.

 

The Night Riders is a solid enough oater to make it go right to the Number 7 position on The Video Vacuum Top Ten for 1939, right below the Charles Laughton version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and just above the Dead End Kids’ flick, They Made Me a Criminal.

Tags: john wayne, n, western
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