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(From Old Corral image collection)

Above is the title lobby card to OREGON TRAIL SCOUTS (Republic, 1947). In this one, we're told how Little Beaver (Bobby Blake) came to be Red Ryder's sidekick. Martha Wentworth took over the role of 'the Duchess' from Alice Fleming.  Wentworth was a gifted and prolific radio performer, and her credits include the 'Wintergreen Witch' in THE CINNAMON BEAR.



(From Old Corral image collection)



(From Old Corral image collection)
In his third career change at Republic, Lane became Red Ryder, who had been played in sixteen previous outings by Elliott.

Like Don Barry, Elliott was being moved up by Republic to bigger pictures, and once again Lane was tapped to step in.  Gossip has it that Marshall Reed had been considered to follow Elliott in the role but Republic President Herbert Yates saw footage of some of Lane's work and chose him instead. Lane inherited Elliott's outfit -- the black hat, gray cowboy shirt with arrow pockets, and chaps.  The only change was that Lane turned Elliott's pair of stag-handled pistols from butts forward to more conventional holsters.  Elliott had continued the gimmick not only of the way he wore his pistols but also his being a 'peaceable man' as he had in previous roles at Columbia and Republic; Ryder's Lane was referred to as a peaceable man by others, like Ryder's aunt, the Duchess (a role in which Martha Wentworth replaced Alice Fleming from the Elliott series).  Lane also inherited a solid-black horse named Thunder and another child actor, but Bobby Blake as Little Beaver never seemed to carry the drawbacks that many child actors brought to westerns; his character was too much of a participant in the action.  Lane's dialog becomes less correct and more cowboy, contrasting with Elliott's correct-English interpretation of the role.  The movie openings changed slightly, from Elliott and Blake stepping out of a Red Ryder book and Elliott blasting away with both guns, to Lane and Blake on horseback and Lane throwing shots in three directions before the pair ride off and the credits roll.  Lane turned out seven Red Ryders during 1946-47.

SANTA FE UPRISING has the Duchess inheriting a toll road which outlaws, led by Barton MacLane and chief henchman Jack LaRue, want to control.  Red has his hands full protecting the Duchess' legacy as a route for ranchers to market their cattle, finding himself appointed as the town lawman with all its worries, and finally trying to rescue a kidnapped Little Beaver.  Kids in the audience were probably shocked midway through the picture at having lovable old-timer Emmett Lynn ruthlessly gunned down by LaRue, but of course Red squares things in the finale.

Another shock awaited audiences for STAGECOACH TO DENVER, which Peggy Stewart ending up with a similar fate as she puts herself between outlaw bullets and the young boy she and Red have just rescued.  This time Barcroft is the brains heavy, with crooked sheriff Ted Adams.  Emmett Lynn is back, as Coonskin (perhaps a tribute to Fred Harmon's comic-strip Red Ryder companion, Buckskin).  Red is protecting the Duchess' stage line this time, and Barcroft hires Peggy Stewart (playing a cigarello-smoking gal named Beautiful) to impersonate an injured boy's aunt (the real aunt having been kidnapped off an earlier stage along with a land agent the baddies plan to replace with one of their own).  When the bogus aunt finds she has the responsibility of okaying an operation which may restore the boy's ability to walk or kill him, she wants out -- and finds herself on the side of Right just in time to stop a bullet.  It is really Stewart's movie, more than anyone's.

VIGILANTES OF BOOMTOWN centers on the boxing match between Gentleman Jim Corbett (George Turner, Stewart's co-star one year later in Republic's 1947 serial, SON OF ZORRO) and Bob Fitzsimmons (John Dehner), which actually did happen in 1897 Carson City, Nevada, and becomes a target for would-be robbers because of all the betting money coming to town (the same event was used as the centerpiece for Fox's 1953 A-western, CITY OF BADMEN with Dale Robertson, Richard Boone and Lloyd Bridges).  Corbett's manager rents the Duchess' ranch for training; Red ends up teaching Corbett to ride in return for boxing lessons.  Peggy Stewart has another meaty role as an anti-boxing activist who sets everyone from her ranch hands to her dog on those supporting this 'barbaric' sport in Nevada.  Roy Barcroft has what may be his only recurring role, as one of the would-be robbers who encountered Ryder once before (when he was Elliott, in WAGON WHEELS WESTWARD, 1945; in both movies, a Barcroft henchman played by George Chesebro tries to shoot Ryder in the back; in both movies, he is killed instead).  Interestingly, Ted Adams again plays the sheriff, this time as honest if not too bright.  Two of Peggy Stewart's most memorable performances are in this movie and STAGECOACH TO DENVER, perhaps because in both she didn't have to pretend to like Lane.

HOMESTEADERS OF PARADISE VALLEY is the only Ryder, aside from the first one, where Lane and Barcroft don't tangle, and the only one with Ann Todd as the leading lady.  Gene Stutenroth is the villain here in a land-grab plot.  Barcroft is back to stay in OREGON TRAIL SCOUTS, in which Red heads off Indian trouble, Little Beaver is again kidnapped, and Barcroft's character suffers the indignity of being clobbered in the finale by the Duchess with a frying pan.  This time Emmett Lynn plays Bear Trap.

RUSTLERS OF DEVIL'S CANYON brings back Peggy Stewart, on whom Red seems about to develop a crush at the end before being chastised by Little Beaver.  Emmett Lynn's incarnation this time is as Blizzard.  The movie starts with Red returning to the Duchess' ranch after a year of soldiering in Cuba, and having a heart-felt reunion with Little Beaver (which, considering Blake's later remarks, must have taken quite a bit of acting on his part).  Arthur Space is the brains heavy who, at one point, tries to put Red out of the way with knockout drops.  "I'm givin' you back your pills, Doc", Red says later, before knocking him out.

MARSHAL OF CRIPPLE CREEK, which ended the series, is written up in Don Miller's Hollywood Corral as one of the most actionful B-westerns made.  Red threatens to break the saloon owner played by brains heavy Gene Roth (earlier Gene Stutenroth) in half if he doesn't quit trying to lure a youngster into a life of crime, and just about does that in a fight at the end.  Barcroft is a henchman who goes to jail early and gives the boy's imprisoned father (Trevor Bardette) an inaccurate account of who is trying to corrupt his son.  Bardette breaks out but soon realizes what's what and changes sides in time to give his life helping Red bring the outlaws to justice.  As with OREGON TRAIL SCOUTS, there is no leading lady here at all (unless you count the Duchess); these are male-dominated vehicles.



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Roy Barcroft, Ted Adams and Allan Lane in STAGECOACH TO DENVER (Republic, 1946), one of the Red Ryder adventures.



(From Old Corral image collection)

From left to right are Roy Barcroft, Edmund Cobb and Allan Lane in a lobby card from OREGON TRAIL SCOUTS (Republic, 1947). This was Allan Lane's fifth (of seven) Red Ryder films, and the story tells how Little Beaver (Bobby Blake) came to be Red's sidekick.



(From Old Corral image collection)

From L-to-R are Tom London, Allan Lane with Peggy Stewart in his arms, whiskered Emmett Lynn, Pierce Lyden, and in the front is Bobby Blake as Little Beaver. Lobby card from RUSTLERS OF DEVIL'S CANYON (Republic, 1947), one of the Red Ryder adventures.



(Courtesy of Dorothy Hack)

Above from left to right are Bobby Blake, Herman Hack and Allan Lane from one of Republic's Red Ryder films.



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