Back to prior page            Go to next page


 



(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Reb brawls with Kenneth MacDonald in a lobby card from BORDER VENGEANCE (Willis Kent, 1935). Tidbit on MacDonald: he was a frequent foil for the Three Stooges and wound up playing a judge on the PERRY MASON TV show.



(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Reb Russell has the drop on baddie Jack Rockwell in a lobby card from LIGHTNING TRIGGERS (Kent, 1935), believed to be the last film in Reb's short-lived film career.


Released to second and third-rate movie houses, the nine Reb Russell westerns were average fare for the Saturday matinee double-feature crowd of that time period.  Remember that in the mid-1930s, Republic Pictures had not arrived and the audience was viewing quality entries from Buck Jones and Tim McCoy ... but they also had the likes of Bill Cody and Rex Lease, and Superior's less than superior oaters starring Buddy Roosevelt and Jay Wilsey (Buffalo Bill Jr.).

The Russell films directed by S. Roy Luby (1899 - 1976) are the best of the bunch.  Luby was a film editor, and did both editing and directing on Johnny Mack Brown and Bob Steele films for A. William Hackel's Supreme Pictures during the mid to late 1930s.  Later, he helmed many of the 1940s Monogram Range Busters. And later still, Luby migrated to early TV where he directed WILD BILL HICKOK and other shows.  As to the Russell/Kent work, the budgets were extremely sparse; there were no musical scores to speed up the action and pacing; stuntwork and fisticuffs were not the polished standard of the 1940s; and I don't recall any use of camera trucks, running inserts, et al.

Plots were traditional western variety, but the dialog/scripting was bare-bones and oftentimes gagging.  And poor Reb couldn't overcome his drawl and the lines he had to deliver - a situation that is remindful of a decade later with Sunset Carson. Examples:

The key in evaluating Russell's westerns is to remember:

On a positive note, the supporting and character actors were top-knotch, and their professionalism helps overcome some of the shortcomings.  And Reb looked good as a cowboy hero, was a pretty good rider, and gave it a good try.



(From Old Corral collection)

In the above lobby card from ARIZONA BAD MAN (Willis Kent, 1935), Russell is in the center all tied up, and Edmund Cobb is on the far left in chaps. The gal is Lois January, and the youngster in the red shirt is Tommy Bupp.



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above from L-to-R are Tommy Bupp, Lois January, Reb Russell, and on horseback is Edmund Cobb.  From Reb's ARIZONA BAD MAN (Willis Kent, 1935).



(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above, Reb Russell, Tommy Bupp and Lois January in another scene from ARIZONA BAD MAN (Willis Kent, 1935).



Back to prior page            Go to next page