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The Rough Riders
8 Films released 1941 - 1942



The members of the Rough Riders:

Charles 'Buck' Jones (1891 - 1942)
(real name: Charles Frederick Gebhart)
portrayed "Marshal Buck Roberts" (who hailed from Arizona)

Timothy John Fitzgerald 'Tim' McCoy (1891 - 1978)
portrayed "Marshal Tim McCall" (who hailed from Wyoming)

Raymond W. 'Ray' Hatton (1887 - 1971)
portrayed "Marshal Sandy Hopkins" (who hailed from Texas)
(Buck often jokingly referred to Hatton using the nickname of "Killer")



(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from L-to-R are Buck Jones, Tim McCoy and Ray Hatton. Note the long frock coat that McCoy added to his traditional black/dark blue range costume. And Raymond Hatton continues to use a left side holster with his six-shooter in the butt forward position.




(From Old Corral image collection)

No question that Buck Jones was the star of the Rough Riders. Note the size of the lettering given the three members - Jones got the largest, followed by McCoy, and Hatton got the smallest lettering.



Buck Jones and Tim McCoy had been among the 'top guns' of Hollywood sagebrush stars in both silent and sound features.

But the careers of both men had waned due to their age and the influx of singing cowboys.  Scott R. Dunlap, the production boss at Monogram Pictures, was a close personal and business friend of Jones and knew that Buck's career could be boosted if given the right screen property.

In 1941, the deal was struck for a new western trio series called the Rough Riders, starring Charles 'Buck' Jones, Tim McCoy and Raymond Hatton.  Interestingly, all three performers were fifty years of age or older when the series began.

Jones, Dunlap and Monogram's Trem Carr had formed Great Western Pictures to produce the Rough Riders series for release through Monogram, and each had invested $3,300 in the venture.

Production values were solid, the storylines were decent, and the charisma/interaction between the three movie veterans was quite enjoyable to watch, as they seemed to be having fun. Though a tad slow in the action department, the eerie GHOST TOWN LAW (Monogram, 1942) is my favorite Rough Riders film. Many western critics and fans, self included, consider the Rough Riders among the finest of the B-western series.

In the films, Jones portrayed Marshal Buck Roberts, McCoy was Marshal Tim McCall, and Hatton was Marshal Sandy Hopkins. And you knew the baddies were in trouble when Buck popped a slice of chewin' gum in his mouth.

But the best laid plans don't always come to fruition.  World War II arrived and Colonel Tim McCoy returned to active duty.  Still portraying their Rough Rider characters, Jones and Hatton did one more film together, the 63 minute DAWN ON THE GREAT DIVIDE (Monogram, 1942).  However, this was not advertised as a Rough Riders film.

But before DAWN was released, Jones died as a result of burns and injuries suffered in the November 28, 1942 Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire in Boston, which killed nearly 500 people. The badly burned Jones was rushed to the Massachusetts General Hospital but passed away a few days after the fire. He was in Boston on the final leg of a personal appearance tour to promote his Monogram films and do some War Bond work, and was attending a party at the Cocoanut Grove. Scotty Dunlap was also injured in the fire, but did recover.

As to Raymond Hatton, he took his Sandy Hopkins character and became the sidekick to Monogram's new sagebrush star, Johnny Mack Brown. The initial entries in the Brown series utilized ideas and scripts that were originally planned for the second season of the Rough Riders.

There was a standard, nostalgic ending in the Rough Riders films --- Ray Hatton would boast that he's returning to Texas; McCoy proclaimed that he was heading home to Wyoming; and Jones was ridin' back to Arizona. All three would bid farewell by saying "So long, Rough Riders!", and then gallop off in three different directions as their theme song came up. That tune, which was also played over the opening film titles, was written by Edward J. Kay, prolific music director for the Rough Riders, Range Busters and more. The theme song began with:

The Rough Riders ride, beware
The Rough Riders ride, take care ...

While most B western series of six or eight films had one or two good ones among the batch, the Rough Riders are an exception in that five of the eight are fun and exciting. Can't go wrong with Buck, Tim and Ray in: ARIZONA BOUND, GUNMAN FROM BODIE, BELOW THE BORDER and RIDERS OF THE WEST. And don't forget FORBIDDEN TRAILS which was the last film directed by Robert North Bradbury (Bob Steele's father).

Overall, the Rough Riders was a great series and certainly ranks among the finest achievements of little Monogram Pictures.



(Tablet cover courtesy of Les Adams)
So long,
Rough Riders!




(From Old Corral image collection)

Above from left to right are Buck Jones (on Silver), Raymond Hatton (on Lucky/Tex) and Tim McCoy (on Midnight?). Hatton, and a lot of other western heroes rode the paint Lucky/Tex (Jimmy Wakely and Jack Randall rode Lucky in some of their Monogram westerns, and John 'Dusty' King rode the same horse during his time as a member of Monogram's Range Busters). Notice that Hatton is on a different paint horse in the above color tablet cover.



Monogram's 8 Rough Riders films

(From Old Corral image collection)
Above - a pressbook ad
for DOWN TEXAS WAY (1942).
ARIZONA BOUND (1941)
Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet

THE GUNMAN FROM BODIE (1941)
Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet

FORBIDDEN TRAILS (1941)
Directed by Robert N. Bradbury (Bob Steele's father)

BELOW THE BORDER (1942)
Directed by Howard Bretherton

GHOST TOWN LAW (1942)
Directed by Howard Bretherton

DOWN TEXAS WAY (1942)
Directed by Howard Bretherton

RIDERS OF THE WEST (1942)
Directed by Howard Bretherton

WEST OF THE LAW (1942)
Directed by Howard Bretherton

Footnote: I still get an occasional e-mail asking if DAWN ON THE GREAT DIVIDE (Monogram, 1942) is a Rough Riders film. DAWN did have Jones and Hatton reprise their "Buck Roberts" and "Sandy Hopkins" roles from the Rough Riders ... and Rex Bell was added as the third member. Howard Bretherton was the director. Released in December, 1942, a few weeks after Buck's death, DAWN was not billed as a Rough Riders film. Clocking in at slightly over an hour in running time, DAWN is a plodding and lethargic wagon train tale - and a sad ending to Jones' career.




(Image courtesy of Les Adams)
Left is Scott R. Dunlap (1892-1970) ... friend and business manager of Buck Jones ... injured in the Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire which killed Jones ... primarily remembered for his work at Monogram in westerns such as the Rough Riders. Dunlap's official title was Vice President in Charge of Production, and he reported to Monogram boss and president W. Ray Johnston.



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