The Allan 'Rocky' Lane Series at Republic
|There's an interesting question regarding Eddy Waller and the 'Nugget Clark' character in the Rocky Lane series - for some reason, Waller missed all of the films in 1951 and the first one in 1952. I immediately thought that he was doing some A or B+ films ... or perhaps, he was working on the STEVE DONOVAN, WESTERN MARSHAL TV oater. But nothing in Waller's filmography shows that he was doing a batch of other films. And the Donovan TVer came several years later circa 1955 - 1956.|
And we have an answer: STEVE DONOVAN was filmed in 1951 and was originally titled STEVE DONOVAN, WESTERN RANGER. And that's why Waller was missing from the Rocky Lane series. More at Boyd Magers Western Clippings website: http://www.westernclippings.com/remember/stevedonovan_doyouremember.shtml
THE WILD FRONTIER (1947): Lane and John James are part of a lawman family headed by Pierre Watkin, their father. When he is killed by secret outlaw leader Jack Holt, Lane and Waller (one of Watkin's' operatives) must not only find out whodunnit but prevent the younger Lane from shooting the wrong man.
BANDITS OF DARK CANYON (1947): Bob Steele plays a man wrongfully imprisoned and freed when he escapes from a prisoner coach attacked by bandits. Aided by Nugget, Steele tries to clear himself and is eventually aided by Rocky during chases in a ghost town. Roy Barcroft plays an outlaw who likes peanuts and leaves shells wherever he's been.
OKLAHOMA BADLANDS (1948): Rocky pretends to be a dude impersonating 'Leslie Rawlins' (actually a woman, played by Mildred Coles) who is a target of outlaws led by Gene Stutenroth and Barcroft (who takes naps until it's time to hold up the stagecoach or whatever; the trouble is his men are hesitant to wake him at times; Bob Williams gives the crooks some hilarious dialog, and there are also some funny scenes where Nugget tries to teach Rocky to ride and shoot. Coles must pretend to be Nugget's cleaning woman while, unknown to Nugget, she actually owns the ranch he works on.
THE BOLD FRONTIERSMAN (1948): This is the one where Barcroft distracts his enemies by flipping a coin with his gunhand and, when they try to draw, catching it in his left hand and shooting them with his right. He and henchman Fred Graham meet their match in Lane, a drilling company representative who saves the money collected to drill for water from Barcroft and company, as well as an innocent young man from hanging.
CARSON CITY RAIDERS (1948): A good example of other characters carrying the load of the storyline, with ex-outlaw Steve Darrell becoming sheriff and being blackmailed by outlaws who learn of his past. Along with Nugget, Rocky and Hal Landon as the young man who plans to kill him when he thinks Darrell is one of the outlaws who killed his father, the good guys set things straight. Barcroft is missing from this one, but it's still one of the best.
MARSHAL OF AMARILLO (1948): A neat mystery which mostly takes place at a stagecoach way station. Scripter Bob Williams keeps the audience guessing with switched rooms and missing passengers as to what's really going on, and presents a list of suspects including Barcroft, Clayton Moore, Trevor Bardette and Denver Pyle, most of whom turn out to be guilty. Barcroft's gimmick here is that he seldom answers any question with more than one word.
DESPERADOES OF DODGE CITY (1948): Another Bob Williams mystery, this one as to which of the passengers aboard an outlaw-hounded stagecoach is the real leader of the outlaws driven by Nugget. Tris Coffin, Barcroft, William Phipps and James Craven, and maybe Mildred Coles, are the suspects and this time only one is guilty. The real surprise here is that it's not Barcroft, who must have stunned this movie's audience when he actually takes a bullet to save Lane!
THE DENVER KID (1948) is Rory Mallinson, as Jason Fox, who controls an outlaw haven and protects outlaws. Lane pretends to be one, making a point of referring to Mallinson as 'Fox' despite the leader's admonition of 'That's Mister Fox.' Finally, after luring him and his gang across the border and besting him in a fight, Lane declares 'You're under arrest -- Mister Fox.'
SUNDOWN IN SANTA FE (1948): The story is that this started out as a Monte Hale vehicle, but the star was injured after some of the action sequences were already in the can. That may be why Rocky wears a different outfit, Nugget's character is more like one of Paul Hurst's characters, and Black Jack gets left behind (Rocky ends up taking a bay horse, the kind used by Hale, away from Lane Bradford who is mistreating her, and that becomes his mount until he leaves it with the boy in the picture at the end). Lane is tracking down a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination this time.
RENEGADES OF SONORA (1948): Barcroft stirs up Indian trouble by having a prized tribal heirloom stolen. Rocky must recover it before the tribe goes on the warpath.
SHERIFF OF WICHITA (1949): Clayton Moore escapes jail when he gets a letter from his old commanding officer, believed dead, to meet him at an abandoned fort where they once served. Similar letters are received by others, including former civilian scout Nugget, and an outlaw in a gang led by (guess who?) Barcroft as Sam Stark. Moore was wrongly accused of being in league with the Stark gang when it robbed an Army payroll. The gang believes one of the men summoned to the fort knows where the payroll is hidden, and lets all of them in but nobody out. Stark is genuinely tough and, when Nugget sticks a gun in his back to keep him from interfering in fisticuffs between Lane and Gene Roth, simply pushes it aside with the comment, 'There's nuthin' I like better than a good dirty fight.' The letters turn out to have been forged by the late commander's daughter, who -- with Rocky's eventual help -- uses the 'ghost' gimmick to scare one of Stark's confederates into clearing her father and Moore.
DEATH VALLEY GUNFIGHTER (1949): Nugget's mine is the target of outlaws, who learn of a lawman being dispatched to help. They send for an outside gunman to kill the lawman and take his place. Instead, Rocky kills the would-be killer and ends up pretending to be him and taking his place to ferret out the outlaws.
FRONTIER INVESTIGATOR (1949): Harry Lauter, playing Lane's brother, is ambushed and robbed by a killer with an innovative telescopic rifle sight. Rocky leaves his ranch job to travel across the west seeking a killer with such a weapon. He finds it in a community where Nugget and Francis Ford run rival stagelines, each being led by Barcroft's outlaws to believe that the other is behind attacks on their franchises. Lane straightens them out when he tracks the killer gun to Barcroft.
THE WYOMING BANDIT (1949): Trevor Bardette plays outlaw Wyoming Dan, captured by Lane but allying himself with the lawman when other outlaws kill one of his sons who have been raised by Nugget. Dan's assistance during this exciting Lane outing earns him a pardon.
BANDIT KING OF TEXAS (1949): Jim Nolan is the title character, where he runs a phony homesteading business but kills the homesteaders after collecting their money. He makes the mistake of killing a couple who are friends of Rocky's. With Nugget as a town jeweler who spots a piece Rocky gave the couple as a wedding gift, Rocky wipes out the gang.
NAVAJO TRAIL RAIDERS (1949): Nugget's freight line is targeted by outlaws, Nugget's employee is blackmailed by his outlaw brother (Dennis Moore), and it takes Rocky to clear things up.
POWDER RIVER RUSTLERS (1949): Rocky is both hindered and aided by a tall-tale-telling Nugget in finding his kidnapped friend, a railroad man being impersonated by outlaws for their own purposes.
GUNMEN OF ABILENE (1950): A town lying atop a hidden gold vein is targeted by outlaws, and Sheriff Nugget Clark is unable to stop them. Marshal Rocky Lane is sent to replace him, but manages to do so undercover allowing the old man to succeed and stay on the job.
CODE OF THE SILVER SAGE (1950): A goateed Barcroft this time is out to assassinate the president. Naturally, Rocky stops him.
SALT LAKE RAIDERS (1950): This time Myron Healey is the unjustly-jailed young man who escapes from the wrecked prison wagon and attempts to clear himself by finding loot hidden in a ghost town. Outlaw brothers Barcroft and Byron Foulger are also interested, and once again the Barcroft gang lets anybody in but nobody gets out -- until Lane manages to outwit them.
COVERED WAGON RAID (1950): Alex Gerry plays an outlaw leader known as the Deacon, who runs the Three Monkeys Saloon ('Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil') with henchman Dick Curtis. Lane and Nugget must save another wagon train from an outlaw ambush.
VIGILANTE HIDEOUT (1950): Scripter Richard Wormser makes Nugget an eccentric inventor of everything from recording devices to an experimental 'herd' of three cattle. Nugget hires range detective Rocky Lane to find out who keeps stealing his herd; Lane is chagrined when he finds out its size, but eventually learns that it is being done to lure Nugget away from where outlaws are tunneling toward the bank vault.
FRISCO TORNADO (1950): Rocky again comes to the rescue of Nugget's stageline.
RUSTLERS ON HORSEBACK (1950): Rocky infiltrates a ranch where outlaws are organizing a virtual army. Future star George Nader is the real ranch owner, who also infiltrates the setup until he and Rocky figure out they are on the same side.
ROUGH RIDERS OF DURANGO (1951): Walter Baldwin as Sheriff Crickett Adams substitutes for Nugget in this race against time to prevent outlaws from grabbing off money coming in to save ranchers from eviction.
NIGHT RIDERS OF MONTANA (1951): Chubby Johnson as Sheriff Skeeter Davis subs as the sidekick this time, in a convoluted plot by M. Coates Webster with Myron Healey thinking secret rustlers leader Arthur Space is trying to help him clear himself. Space is really interested in the location of a horse herd bunched by ranchers for a single drive to outwit the rustlers. When Barcroft insists he thought the gang had managed to kill Lane, Space responds: "You're being paid to act, not think, and right now you're being overpaid!"
WELLS FARGO GUNMASTER (1951): Rocky arranges with Skeeter to rob a stagecoach to infiltrate an outlaw gang.
FORT DODGE STAMPEDE (1951): Another search for loot in a ghost town, with Skeeter heading a gang of surveyors and Barcroft a gang of outlaws.
DESERT OF LOST MEN (1951): Irving Bacon becomes Sheriff Skeeter Davis this time, with the goal of outlaws known as the Lost Men being money raised to build a hospital.
CAPTIVE OF BILLY THE KID (1952): White-haired Clem Bevans becomes Skeeter this time among a group of people seeking Billy the Kid's missing loot. Penny Edwards, Grant Withers, Clayton Moore and Mauritz Hugo are among the treasure hunters being harassed by outlaws led by Piute (Barcroft) but one of them is his boss.
LEADVILLE GUNSLINGER (1952): Barcroft is double trouble this time, playing twin outlaws. Richard Crane (TV's future Rocky Jones, Space Ranger) is the young man engaged to Nugget's niece (Elaine Riley). Eddy Waller is back as Nugget. Outlaws know there is oil on Nugget's land and are trying to get it.
BLACK HILLS AMBUSH (1952): Nugget's freight line is in trouble again. Michael Hall plays a young gang member reformed by Rocky, Nugget and Nugget's latest niece (Leslye Banning).
THUNDERING CARAVANS (1952): Nugget is a sheriff again and Rocky is dispatched to help him and his young deputy (Richard Crane). Isabel Randolph, as the owner of the town's newspaper, is the brains behind the outlaws. She plans to replace Nugget as sheriff with her brother (Bill Henry) and is aided by escaped convict Barcroft who informs her that Nugget's deputy was once a convict. (When Randolph finds Barcroft waiting genially in her office, she immediately draws all the shades. Nobody wants to be seen with Barcroft!) Rocky clears the deputy of further connivance and nails the real culprits.
DESPERADO'S OUTPOST (1952): Outlaws are stealing strategically-valuable mercury from the army. A young lieutenant (Myron Healey) sweet on Nugget's niece (Claudia Barrett) is blamed until Rocky clears things up. The finale has Barcroft clicking an empty gun, and Rocky throwing aside his own weapon to tackle his enemy with bare hands.
MARSHAL OF CEDAR ROCK (1953): This time Bill Henry is the wrongly-imprisoned young man who tries to clear his name by making Barcroft, the town banker, confess. His escape has been set up so Rocky can trail him to the money; instead, Rocky finds the real culprits and clears him so he can marry Nugget's latest niece (Phyllis Coates).
SAVAGE FRONTIER (1953): An older-looking Bob Steele plays a reformed gunman who may be a match for fast-draw Lane. We never know, because Steele is wounded by his former outlaw cohorts toward the end of the picture and his young brother mistakenly blames Rocky. Steele recovers, the brother finally shoots the right man, and Rocky once more rounds up Barcroft and company.
BANDITS OF THE WEST (1953): Trevor Bardette is a former outlaw who finds himself at odds with a natural gas company crossing his land. His ranch hands, led by Barcroft, want him back in jail because they have been looting the ranch. They frame him, but Rocky, who quits as the town's sheriff to pursue the outlaws on his own, clears things up. Rocky and Bardette have a touching scene in the jail when Rocky brings him out of his cell to see the town's new gas-powered lights come on for the first time, and begins the process of softening Bardette's sympathetic character.
EL PASO STAMPEDE (1953): With lots of stock footage (particularly from OKLAHOMA BADLANDS), Rocky saves yet another wagon train and Nugget's kidnapped daughter (Phyllis Coates) from the secret outlaw leader, local dentist Stephen Chase and henchman Barcroft whose leer must be seen to be believed when he sees Coates a prisoner. The finale takes place in the Republic cave set. Rocky then waves goodbye and rides Black Jack out of town for the last time.
|EL PASO STAMPEDE (1953) was Lane's last starring role and the end of the Rocky Lane series.|
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
(From Old Corral image collection)
|From left to right are Allan Lane, I. Stanford Jolley and Eddy Waller (1889-1977) in a lobby card from LEADVILLE GUNSLINGER (Republic, 1952). Waller appeared in 32 of the 38 Rocky Lane films.|
In the early 1950s, he (briefly) exited the Lane series to portray 'Rusty Lee', the saddle pal to Douglas Kennedy in the short-lived TV series STEVE DONOVAN, WESTERN RANGER (which was re-named a few years later to STEVE DONOVAN, WESTERN MARSHAL).
|Right are Chubby Johnson (as 'Skeeter Davis') and Lane in a crop from a lobby card from WELLS FARGO GUNMASTER (Republic, 1951).|
When Eddy Waller was doing the STEVE DONOVAN TV program, he missed six of the 1951-1952 Rocky Lane series oaters.
During that period, four actors were used as Lane's replacement sidekicks: Chubby Johnson appeared in three; Walter Baldwin, Irving Bacon, and old timer Clem Bevans did one each.
(Courtesy of Dave Smith)