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(From Old Corral collection)

Above is the title lobby card for DESERT VENGEANCE (Columbia, 1931), one of the Beverly Productions that Jones made in the early 1930s for producer Sol Lesser.



Jones returned to his movie roots and the February 19, 1930 Film Daily mentioned that he had inked a deal with producer Sol Lesser for a new series of westerns.

For Sol Lesser and his Beverly Productions company, Buck starred in eight westerns at a salary of $300.00 per week. All eight were released through Columbia Pictures which, at that time, was basically a B movie factory. Jones' first for Lesser - and his first talkie - was THE LONE RIDER (Beverly/Columbia, 1930), and it arrived in the theaters during Summer, 1930.

Lesser's involvement in B grade films went on for decades, and included: some early George O'Brien oaters released through Fox; the short-lived Smith Ballew westerns at 20th Century Fox; the TARZAN THE FEARLESS cliffhanger with Buster Crabbe; the CHANDU serial with Bela Lugosi; and many of the Tarzan flicks with Johnny Weissmuller, Lex Barker and Gordon Scott.

Overall, Buck's Beverly series was solid ... and proved that he could handle dialog and assorted screen chit-chat in a reasonably believable manner.

Probably the best of the Lesser productions is THE TEXAS RANGER (1931) - Jones is the titled lawman who goes undercover, even has a scene as a saloon drunk, and his nemesis is the great Harry Woods who is trying to run homesteaders off their land.

After the initial eight for Lesser, Columbia assumed direct control of the productions, and bumped Jones' salary to $500.00/weekly.

Soon after Buck came on board, Columbia acquired the services of Tim McCoy. And McCoy and Jones gave Columbia a potent 1 - 2 box office punch in the early 1930s.

If you're looking for a solid but quirky film with Jones in an offbeat role, take a gander at THE THRILL HUNTER (Columbia, 1933). In it, the braggin' Jones weaves some tall stories and comes to the attention of a movie company that happens to be on location. There's also race cars and airplanes, both of which were among Jones' real life pleasures. Another good one is SUNDOWN RIDER (Columbia, 1933) in which Jones gets branded as a rustler by a posse. And there's TREASON (Columbia, 1933) which has leading lady Shirley Grey as the boss of a group of Confederate sympathizers. Buck gets branded in this one also. (Some folks get these 'branding' films confused with Jones' 1931 Columbia BRANDED simply because of the film title).

Louis King directed many of the early Columbias, while Lambert Hillyer and D. Ross Lederman were behind the camera on most of the later entries.

While many of the Jones movies were top-rate, there were a few misses - case in point is THE AVENGER (Beverly/Columbia, 1931), with a moustached Jones portraying bandit Joaquin Murrieta and trying to deliver lines with a Mexican dialect. While the production looks good, Jones is definitely off type.

To foster theater ticket sales, the Buck Jones Rangers Club was launched during Buck's time at Columbia Pictures and was announced on the front page of the October 1, 1931 issue of Film Daily:

"As a business-builder for exhibitors, Columbia has launched a national Buck Jones Rangers Club with membership open to boys and girls. Jones will be head of the club, which in addition to aiming at more kid patronage will try to foster good will among parents and teacher associations."

His Columbia series consisted of nineteen oaters (a total of twenty-one features if you include the non-westerns CHILD OF MANHATTAN (Columbia, 1932) and HIGH SPEED (Columbia, 1932)).

But Buck and the studio couldn't come to terms on a contract renewal and the break-up was covered in the March 3, 1933 issue of the Hollywood Reporter:

Headline: "Jones Out of Columbia" and "Buck Jones and Columbia failed to agree on a new deal and rather than exercise the western star's option at a new figure the company has let the contract lapse."

He wrapped up the remaining films under his Columbia contract ... and then began looking for another job. And it didn't take long for an offer to arrive - from the May 1, 1933 Hollywood Reporter:

Headline: "Buck Jones Will Star In Universal Serial" and "Universal has concluded arrangements with Buck Jones on a deal which have the player starred in a serial. Contracts are to be signed and sealed this morning. Jones just finished a term ticket with Columbia for a series of westerns." (That serial was GORDON OF GHOST CITY (Universal, 1933).)



(Courtesy of Les Adams)




(From Old Corral collection)

L-to-R are George Cooper, Jones and Barbara Weeks in FORBIDDEN TRAIL (Columbia, 1932).



(From Old Corral collection)

A young John Wayne appeared in three of the Columbia oaters of Jones and McCoy.  Above is Susan Fleming, Wayne, Jones, and William Walling in Buck's RANGE FEUD (Columbia, 1931).



(Courtesy of Dave Smith)

Above - Carmelita Geraghty shares a tender moment with Buck Jones in this lobby card from MEN WITHOUT LAW (Columbia, 1930), one of the Sol Lesser produced oaters which was released by Columbia.



(Courtesy of Dave Smith)

Above are Carmelita Geraghty and Buck Jones in a publicity still for THE TEXAS RANGER (Columbia, 1931), another of producer Sol Lesser's westerns starring Jones. Below is a blowup of the strange gun that Carmelita is aiming at Jones - has the Columbia logo near the grip and "Buck Jones Texas Ranger Repeating Gun" on the side. A cardboard giveaway?

Thanks to Texan Jim Bryan for details on this strange weapon: "... is actually a wooden rubber band gun rather than a cardboard giveaway. The rubber bands were stretched from the front of the barrel to the toothed gear-like wheel at the rear. Several rubber bands could be loaded at once making the gun a repeater. I bought two similar six-guns for my two grandsons last year in Colorado, and they have great fun shooting empty soft drink cans with them."







(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above from L-to-R are the eavesdropping Buck Jones, Harry Woods and Edward Peil in a lobby card from THE TEXAS RANGER (Columbia, 1931), one of the Beverly Productions that Jones made in the early 1930s for producer Sol Lesser.



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