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The Old Wyoming Trail

(aka "Smoking Six Guns")

 

Columbia Pictures Corporation of California

Production Dates: August 16 - 31, 1937

Release Date: 1937 11 08

Running time: 56 minutes (6 reels)

Key book (production) number: 302

 

Credits

Cast

Songs

Plot Summary

Publicity and Production Stills

Posters

Glass Slide

Sheet Music

 

Location clues:

 

            Although the Sons of the Pioneers were featured in Columbia's Gallant Defender (1935) and The Mysterious Avenger (1936), The Old Wyoming Trail is the Columbia film that actually began the series of 28 (possibly 29) movies they made with Charles Starrett. Tim Spencer hadn't as yet rejoined the Sons of the Pioneers so Bob Nolan was sole composer until "Spoilers of the Range" in 1939.

            It is an interesting film in a number of ways. For one thing, it has a huge cast of the heavies and townsmen we see in many of the B-Westerns of the day. Secondly, the version of "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" played over the opening credits is the original arrangement. The role of the Pioneers is to gallop around with the posse, provide the music for the dance and appear briefly in the shoot-out at the end. The one song that features them alone is cut from our video but the music cue sheet says it was "Old Paint". A few tantalizing frames remain to show us where the singing took place. Finally, Bob Nolan's character has about three seconds of dialogue but the film provides a baseline by which we can watch his roles grow until he is second lead to Starrett.

            The visual quality of our video is very poor, therefore our captured stills are blurred. This movie is available on DVD.

 

 

 

 


Cast:

   

Charles Starrett as Bob Patterson and Barbara Weeks as Elsie Halliday

 

 

Left: Dick Curtis as Ed Slade

Right: Edward LeSaint as Jeff Halliday

 

   

Donald Grayson as Sandy and Ray Whitley as Halliday's foreman

 

The Sons of the Pioneers as Halliday cowhands and musicians

Karl Farr, Lloyd Perryman, Hugh Farr, Leonard Slye, Bob Nolan with Don Grayson and Ray Whitley

 

 

Dick Curtis (Ed Slade) with Guy Usher as Lafe Kenney and George Chesebro as Lawyer Barlow

 

 

 

                      Left: Edward Peil Sr as the Sheriff. Right: Eddie Hearn as Hammond.                       

 

   

Left: Slim Whittaker as the lookout 

Centre: Art Mix as Carson, Slade's henchman

Right: Si Jenks as the townsman with the extra guns who is also the bucolic dancer

 

Steve Clark as the Deputy

 

Others in the cast:
Fred Burns as the stage driver
Alma Chester as Mrs. Rance
Edmund Cobb as a townsman
Tex Cooper as a townsman
Silver Tip Baker as a townsman at the dance

Charles Brinley as a townsman
Ralph Bucko as a henchman

Tom London as a townsman
Sammy McKim as the boy following the townsman with the extra guns
Fred Parker as a townsman at the dance
Bob Reeves as a townsman
Jack Evans as a posse rider

Ernie Adams as Joe, a henchman
Dick Botiller as the laughing henchman in stitched-brim hat
Art Dillard as a henchman
Bert Dillard as a henchman

Ray Jones as a henchman at the hideout
Eddie Juaregui as a henchman at the hideout
Curley Dresden as a henchman
Frank Ellis as a henchman

Bob Card as a henchman at the hideout

Jack Rockwell as a henchman
Blackjack Ward as a henchman in shootout in the rocks

Lew Meehan as a henchman prisoner

Joe Yrigoyen stunts
Ted Mapes - stunts


Songs: (refreshed by Roberto Costa)

1. Ridin' Home (Bob Nolan)

2. Old Paint (Ray Whitley) Missing from our video although it is listed on Laurence Zwisohn's music cue sheet list.

3. Swing Ding instrumental (Hugh & Karl Farr)

4. Love Song of the Waterfall (Bob Nolan)

5. Chicken Reel (James M. Daly)


Plot Summary:

            Bob Patterson and his foreman, Sandy, ride into the first scene singing "Ridin' Home" with the foreman of the Halliday (Turkey Track) ranch and his cowhands.

 

 

            Sandy and Patterson have just decided that nothing exciting ever happens when they hear gunshots. They see four horsemen chasing the passenger stagecoach and so they ride down to see if they can assist the passengers, Elsie Halliday and an elderly man named Hammond. One outlaw and the stage guard, Rance, are killed. They tie their prisoners' hands. Hammond climbs up onto the back of the stage and leads the mounted prisoners to town. Sandy drives the stage while Patterson and Elsie look after the injured driver inside.

 

 

            Back in Rimrock, everyone, including Elsie's father, is getting anxious because the stage is so late. A mine owner said he was expecting a $20,000 payroll for his men. Another, Lafe Kinney, said that when he shipped gold, he hired a gunfighter, Slade, to protect it.

 

 

        The stage arrives, Elsie is reunited with her father and the bad news is broken to Mrs. Rance.

 

 

            The townspeople are so upset they are determined to hang the outlaws but Patterson and Sandy persuade them to let the law take its course. The sheriff requests that Patterson and Sandy stay around as witnesses. Hammond assures him that he will be in town for a few weeks, too. Kinney, Slade and Barlow, the crooked lawyer, decide to break the outlaws out of jail. When Slade sees his brother among the dead, he is only prevented by Kinney from shooting Patterson and Sandy right there on the street. Kinney counsels patience.  Mr. Halliday asks Patterson and Sandy to make sure Elsie and Mrs. Rance get home safely. Patterson takes over Sandy's job as driver of the buckboard!

 

 

            Slade and his band of henchmen ambush Patterson and Elsie and the race is on! Sandy hears the shooting and comes to the rescue, leading Raider. Patterson jumps out of the buckboard and fires on the outlaws from behind a tree while Else takes over the driving.

 

 

            When Sandy arrives, the outlaws disperse. His henchman tells Slade that Patterson got away and Slade declares he would have to do the job himself next time.

 

 

        The next scene takes place in the Halliday's ranch house after dinner. Elsie excuses herself to clear the table while Sandy goes out to "chin with the boys" leaving Patterson and Mr. Halliday to get down to business. When Patterson pays Halliday for some cattle, he pulls out his wallet and draws attention to his money which had been wet and stained from a river crossing. Halliday tells him that he has had trouble selling his cattle the buyers never show up - and his loan is coming due next week.

 

Right: Only a few frames are left of a scene with the Sons of the Pioneers and Sandy singing Old Paint..

 

            A quick cut to Kinney's office in town reveals the reason for Halliday's problems. Kinney wants the ranch because the railway is going to go through it. He decides to force Halliday off his ranch by foreclosing on him or offering to buy it for a low price.

 

 

            Kinney takes Slade with him to Halliday's and unctuously sympathizes with the old man while stating that he will be forced to take over the ranch if the debt isn't paid. Halliday announces that Patterson has just paid him $5,000 for cattle and now there is no problem about payment.

 

 

 

 

            Slade and Patterson fight while the Pioneers watch and cheer. Kinney "fires" Slade and they ride off. Kinney decides to use force and sends Slade and Carson to Halliday's to get the money Patterson has just paid him. Mr. Halliday and Elsie see them coming and Halliday sends Elsie out of the room while he talks to the men. She hears them trying to force her father to open the safe and escapes out a window to ride for help. Slade lights a candle, tells Carson to hold Halliday down and proceeds to burn his foot until he gives them the combination to the safe.



            The henchmen steal Halliday's herd for good measure and, as Elsie streaks toward them, a gun battle in the rocks ensues with the Pioneers, Patterson and Sandy against a large crew of rustlers. Three rustlers, including Slade's brother, are captured and herded into town by Sandy. Right about this time, Elsie arrives with the news that her father is being robbed.

 

 

 

            Patterson and Elsie race to help her father but by the time they reach the ranch, Halliday has given in and the goons have gone with the money. Patterson races back into town for the Sheriff.

 

 

 

            Sandy hands his three prisoners over to the Sheriff who has to fight off the crowd again to keep them from being lynched. Kinney intercedes with the argument that they should jail these three and force them to tell who the leader is. Just about this time, Starrett rides in with the news of the Halliday robbery. The Sheriff orders his deputy to keep his eyes on the prisoners and let no outsiders near them. Kinney rides out to the hideout to get the money from Slade.

                       

   

 

            Back at the ranch, the Sheriff and Patterson discover Hammond with Mr. Halliday and Elsie and he tells them about the railway plans to cross their land. He said he was sent out to investigate Kinney because Kinney had been buying up every ranch on the right of way and had actually offered the railroad company a clear right of way through Halliday's land! Hammond cannot, however, advance Mr. Halliday any money to meet his loan. Patterson points out to the Sheriff how the bills were marked by water and they set a trap for Kenney.

 

 

            The Sheriff once more reassures Halliday that he is on their side and then Halliday and Patterson (the Sheriff waits outside) approach Kinney in his office. Halliday tells him that he's given up and he'll sell the ranch to him after all. Kinney happily opens the safe, counts out the down payment - all in water wrinkled bills. The Sheriff walks in, arrests Kinney and takes him to Jail. Barlow, who has been listening at an open window, waits outside and signals to Kinney that he won't have to remain in jail very long.

 

 

            Barlow races out to tell Slade who is all set to go into town and break out Kinney. Barlow suggests they wait until the next evening when the whole town is at the dance.

 

 

 

            The next scene begins at the dance where we hear "Swing Ding", an instrumental. This scene is where we hear the Sons of the Pioneers but not Nolan who has very little to do until Sandy sings, "The Love Song of the Waterfall". An instrumental, "Chicken Reel", begins the next dance which features a bucolic clog dance until it is interrupted by an explosion. The outlaws have dynamited the safe, stolen the money and evidence and freed the rustlers.

 

 

            Slade kidnaps Elsie. While the Sheriff is checking the extent of the damage to his jail, Sandy finds Barlow snooping around outside again and drags him in. Ray Whitley shakes out his rope and prepares to hang him when Nolan rushes in. This is Bob Nolan's sole dialogue, "They've got Elsie Halliday!" When he's questioned as to what the kidnapper looked like, he wasn't sure but thought it was Ed Slade. Carson, listening outside the window watches as they shake up Barlow who says he'll talk. Carson leaves town in a hurry.

 

 

            Meanwhile, out at the hideout at Latigo Canyon, there is another drama taking place. When Kinney discovers that Slade has Elsie, he demands she be turned loose. Slade, using her as a decoy to get Patterson out there, refuses. He also refuses to obey Kinney any more, challenges him to draw and shoots him.

 

 

            Carson arrives and shortly thereafter, Patterson and the posse. The outlaws decide to send Carson down to them under a white flag to invite Patterson to come up alone if Elsie is to be returned safely. Patterson accepts the challenge, Carson disarms him and they ride up alone.

 

 

            Slade orders Elsie to go down but she says she won't go unless Patterson goes with her. A fist fight breaks out between Slade and Patterson and then we cut to the posse waiting below. The time has elapsed for Elsie to appear and she hasn't so they spread out and surround the hideout. Meanwhile, the rustlers are enjoying the grudge fight too much to be on the lookout. Slade finally pulls a gun and when Patterson wrestles with him the gun goes off. The posse, hearing the shot, thinks it's the Sheriff's signal and rush the hideout. A gun battle takes place until Slade is killed. Elsie is reunited with her father.

 

 

        The final scene is the posse with their captives returning home to the tune of Ridin' Home.

 

 


 

Professional Stills

 

The Calin Coburn Collection

 

The Calin Coburn Collection

 

Courtesy of Jan Scott

 

Clockwise from left centre:

Hugh Farr, Karl Farr, Lloyd Perryman Leonard Slye, Bob Nolan, Don Grayson and Ray Whitley.

(The Calin Coburn Collection)

 

Private Collection

 

Barbara Weeks and Charles Starrett

 

Charles Starrett, Barbara Weeks, Edward LeSaint

 

Dick Curtis, Guy Usher, Charles Starrett, Edward LeSaint and Barbara Weeks

 

Dick Curtis, Guy Usher, Edward LeSaint, Barbara Weeks and Charles Starrett

 

Eddie Hearne, Barbara Weeks, Charles Starrett and Edward LeSaint

 

Courtesy of Jan Scott

 

Donald Grayson and Charles Starrett

(courtesy of Ed Phillips)

 

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 

Barbara Weeks and Dick Curtis

 

Donald Grayson and Charles Starrett

 

Barbara Weeks and Charles Starrett

 

On the set

Courtesy of Buddy Bryant

 


 

Posters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Left: one sheet, courtesy of Les Adams

 

 

Courtesy of Les Adams

 


 

 

Glass Slide

 


 

This photo from a long play album was also taken from The Old Wyoming Trail.


 

Sheet Music

 

The Calin Coburn Collection

 

The Calin Coburn Collection