The original Monogram Pictures had been one of the companies that had been merged to form Republic Pictures in 1935 (along with Nat Levine's Mascot Pictures, Herbert Yates' Consolidated Film Laboratories, and more). A couple years after the formation of Republic, Monogram was resurrected as a company, and some of their cowboy heroes during the late 1930s included Tom Keene and Jack Randall.
With the success of Republic's Three Mesquiteers, several forces came together around 1940 to develop a new 'trigger trio' for the screen. Involved were Ray Corrigan, producer George W. Weeks, and Monogram Pictures. It's not clear to me who had the initial idea for the Range Busters, but I would think it was probably Corrigan.
The Range Busters was clearly a lower budget copy of the Mesquiteers. Big, muscular 'Crash' Corrigan was clearly the lead, and comic relief was in the hands of ventriloquist Max 'Alibi' Terhune (and his wise-cracking dummy Elmer). Both Corrigan and Terhune were established western film heroes with names and faces that Saturday matinee movie crowds would know and recognize. Early - mid 1940 tradepaper articles mentioned that the new series was to be called "The Two Pals", and Corrigan and John King were the stars. But Terhune got added to make it a trio, and very briefly, the group became "The Three Pals". Then came a final name change to "The Range Busters".
Monogram would distribute the Range Busters but not be directly involved in the productions. The production deal gave Corrigan a substantial share of the film profits (in an interview years later, Ray said he received 50%).
Twenty-four films were released during 1940-1943, and Corrigan appeared in 20 of them. The final entry was BULLETS AND SADDLES (Monogram, 1943), and with it, the Range Busters rode off into Hollywood history.
If you want more details, go to the Range Busters section on the Old Corral.
(From Old Corral collection)
Above are the original Monogram Range Busters trio - from left to right are John "Dusty' King, Ray 'Crash' Corrigan and Max 'Alibi' Terhune. This team appeared in the initial sixteen of the Range Busters films which were released from 1940-1942.
(From Old Corral collection)
Above are the members of the final Range Busters grouping - from left to right are Max Terhune, Dennis 'Denny' Moore and Corrigan.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
|On the left is a blurb from the pressbook for LAND OF HUNTED MEN (Monogram, 1943), and mentions that John King and Dave Sharpe had departed for World War II duty ... and Dennis Moore had joined the series and Ray Corrigan was returning.|
The oft reported story is that a salary issue and/or disagreement with producer George W. Weeks was the cause of Ray Corrigan going "missing in action" from four of the films (the ones in which Dave Sharpe substituted). Or perhaps there was some other reason, such as Corriganville business or personal/family issues.
(Courtesy of Minard Coons)
Above from left to right are Ray Corrigan, Max Terhune and Monte Hale's brother Bill Hale as 'The Bucksin Rangers'.
|Did Ray 'Crash' Corrigan try to bring another western series to the screen long after his work in the Range Busters of 1940-1943 ... and is there a completed film laying around somewhere that hadn't been seen in about fifty years?|
Both Ray Corrigan and Max Terhune told Old Corral contributor Minard Coons that they had completed the initial film of a new trio series, starring themselves along with Monte Hale's brother Bill Hale (far right in the picture on the left). It was not a new series of western movies, but a proposed half hour television series. The pilot episode was lensed in color circa late 1950, but the series was not picked up for broadcast. The name of the new trio and TV program was "The Buckskin Rangers".
Ed Phillips reported that Tommy Corrigan (Ray's son in California) has the film, and it was shown many years ago at a gathering of western film fans.
There were a few October, 1950 tradepaper announcements on 'The Buckskin Rangers'. It was being produced by Jerry Fairbanks Inc. of Hollywood. Corrigan had the lead role, was to be filmed at Corriganville, and 26 half-hour TV episodes were planned. The three heroes portrayed roving lawmen in the 1870s.
THE BUCKSKIN RANGERS TV pilot was recently made available to view on YouTube and this link will open in separate window / tab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqdDMG7mm2U