South of Arizona
Columbia Pictures Corporation of California
Production Dates: May 6 - 14, 1938
Release Date: 1938 07 28
Running time: 56 minutes
Key book (production) number: 306
This is a tale of a supposedly respectable citizen who is actually an unscrupulous crook with a phalanx of hired gunnies. There is a full quota of singing, fast riding and fighting.
The Sons of the Pioneers are at their vocal best in this film and do a wonderful a cappella interpretation of One More Hand on the Range, a piece by Milton Drake. All the other songs are written by Bob Nolan.
Because it detracts from the film, it is unfortunate that an unidentified voice that sounds like Donald Grayson was dubbed over Bob's on his solo parts. It is strange to watch Bob mime the solos and listen to another voice yet hear his voice in the Pioneer's backup.
Bob has a good speaking part and does a creditable acting job. Bob did not have a stunt man do his riding in the Starrett films and he is becoming a fine horseman. Some of the chase scenes of him and Starrett racing are filmed close up.
We have provided video clips for each song.
Left: Iris Meredith as Ann Madison and Charles Starrett as Clay Travers
Right: Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers as Travers cowhands
Left: Robert Fiske as Mark Kenyon, Dick Curtis as Ed Martin
Centre: Dick Botiller as Latigo
Edmund (as Edward) Cobb as Dorn, Art Mix as Santos
Left: Hank Bell as Hank, the stagecoach driver
Right: Wally Wales as the murdered Ranger, Frank Madison
Lafe McKee as Lafe Brown and Edward Coxen as Jed, both ranchers
They dash outside before they realize they've already had their breakfast and they've been tricked. Their boss, Clay Travers, laughs and distributes their paychecks. With a whoop and a holler they are off to town to spend them.
A man in a buckboard drives up and Clay pays him for cattle he has sold for him. The elderly rancher, Lafe Brown, admits that without this money he would be bankrupt. It seems he is typical of all the small ranchers; the rustlers have been busy.
The Pioneers gallop into the town of Trail City and meet another elderly rancher, Jed, who is ready to move out of the area. Bob persuades him to stay a little longer. Mark Kenyon adds his persuasion. From the conversation, we deduce that a ranger is expected and the town will have law and order at long last.
The scene changes and three riders (Latigo, Dorn, and Santos) emerge from the brush. They watch a young ranger riding along the trail below for awhile before accosting him.
The ranger watches the three silent men for awhile and then wheels his horse and decides it would be better to make a run for it.
The outlaws shoot him out of the saddle and he falls to the ground. His horse runs away. Dorn slips from his horse, searches the apparently dead man and takes his wallet and his badge.
The killers meet up with Ed Martin who takes the wallet and pins the badge onto his own broad chest. He is now ready to become the ranger the town is awaiting.
Attracted by the sight of a saddled horse running free, Travers catches the animal and backtracks until he finds the gravely wounded ranger. Unable to identify his killers, the ranger manages to tell Travers that his sister is expected on the next stagecoach. Before he dies, Frank instructs Clay to take his money belt to his sister, Ann. Travers ties the body to the ranger's horse and proceeds to town.
Back in town, the Pioneers are sitting around with the rest of the townsfolk waiting for the ranger's arrival. They all jump to their feet when they see a man wearing a badge enter town. Pat runs into the office to let Kenyon know of the arrival. The ranger gets a warm welcome. He asks to find Kenyon, shakes his hand and promises the townsfolk that rustling will now be a thing of the past.
Kenyon and Martin walk into Kenyon's office and compliment each other on how slick it had been to waylay the ranger. Kenyon searches the wallet for the ranger's credentials and finds only a letter.
Just then Travers rides in with the ranger's body. Kenyon orders Martin to let him do the talking and they approach Travers.
Kenyon introduces Martin as "the new ranger" and Travers' eyes widen in shock. He quickly gets control of himself and decides to play along. Martin takes over the questioning and asks if the dead man had said anything before he died or if he had anything on him. Travers said he hadn't stopped to look. Promising to give him any help any time, Travers called the Pioneers together and left.
As they walked toward their horses, Travers told Bob the whole story. They are aware that Ann Madison's life is in danger because she will be able to identify the body. They decide to meet the stagecoach before it reaches town.
Martin and Kenyon stroll back to Kenyon's office accompanied by Dorn. They are a little worried about the Travers bunch leaving town so soon but it isn't until Kenyon reads the letter in the wallet and realizes the ranger's sister is due to arrive soon that Martin panics. Kenyon calms him down and directs Dorn to meet the stage and see she does not arrive. Dorn smiles in anticipation.
So now Ann Sheridan will have two sets of riders meeting her; one with her safety at heart, the other to kidnap or kill her.
Both groups arrive simultaneously but the outlaws are closer. They fire on the stage and Ann takes cover on the floor. Hank, the driver is hit and slumps down in the seat, releasing the reins.
All the gunfire causes the horses to run away. Bob and Clay break up the outlaw attack and while the Pioneers chase the outlaws away, Clay and Bob race after the runaway stagecoach. Bob climbs up onto the stage and takes the reins while Clay jumps onto the lead horse and their combined efforts soon bring the runaways under control.
Clay helps Ann up off the floor while Bob checks to see if Hank is badly hurt. Ann identifies herself and Clay helps her out of the stage. Even though he has a shoulder wound, Hank refuses to admit he is hurt but indignantly allows himself to be helped into the coach only because Ann insists.
The Pioneers return after a fruitless chase. No one has recognized the outlaws. Hanks, with florid language, starts to say what he thinks of them but is stopped by Bob who warns that a lady is present.
Clay decides to reroute the stagecoach to his ranch to patch up Hank's shoulder and make decide what to do next.
In town, the outlaws have reported to their leader, Kenyon. Ed Martin starts to panic, thinking all is lost but Kenyon has another idea. He orders Latigo to get his men together, go to the Travers ranch and find out Clay's plans then meet at Kenyon's office.
Out at Clay's ranch, the Pioneers are sitting around a campfire singing There's a Round-Up in the Sky while Ann and Clay listen.
Clay checks on the injured Hank who is impressed by Ann's courage in accepting her brother's death.
Then Clay takes his bedroll and moves out to the bunkhouse with the boys, leaving Ann his room. He tells her his home is hers for as long as she wants.
Dorn and Santos sneak around in the dark listening at the windows while Clay talks to Bob and the Pioneers about tomorrow's plans - Bob and Clay will go into town and the rest of the Pioneers will stay on the ranch guarding Ann. Bob gives Clay Madison's money belt and Clay decides to take it into the bank.
Just then, they hear a sound outside. Dorn and Santos move to another spot and freeze. Bob and Clay walk out and listen, hear nothing more and return to the bunkhouse.
In town next day, Ed Martin and the posse return after a fruitless search just as the stage arrives, driven by Clay Travers. Clay explains to the crowd what has happened and then Dorn starts making remarks about how fishy it looks that Travers is always the only one around when all these things happen. The crowd pauses, puzzled. Santos and Latigo continue stirring up the crowd.
Ed Martin intervenes and asks if Clay has recognized any of the outlaws. He directs the mailbags to be handed down. Bob hands down the mailbag and then Madison's saddlebag which Clay reaches for but Dorn grabs. They argue about it and Ed starts to open the saddlebag. Clay draws his gun to prevent this but Dorn, in turn, draws his gun and covers Clay.
Kendall agrees that the saddlebag should be opened so they could all see what is in it. One of the ranchers pulls out the money belt with Frank Madison's name on it and Clay is forced to tell how he got it. He stares Martin in the eye and tells how the dying ranger directed him to give it to his sister. The ranchers look at Martin for an explanation. After a brief hesitation, Martin glibly invents a new story for himself. He and Madison, he said, were partners. He knew Madison was shot and Ed was looking for the outlaws when he died. When he returned and found him dead, he decided to take his name and place and do a little investigating.
Dorn tries once more to stir the pot and put suspicion on Clay. The ranchers refuse to believe it until Ed points out that everyone has been losing cattle but the Travers ranch. He suggests that Clay killed Madison because he didn't want the law to learn he was rustling the cattle. He arrests Clay for the murder of Madison.
Clay, still believing that Ed is what he says he is, struggles but the gang wrestles him quiet until Bob jumps up onto the stagecoach, gun drawn. He orders them to let Clay go. Clay draws his own gun and everyone raises their hands. Bob and Clay mount and ride with everyone behind them in less than a minute.
After a furious chase, Bob and Clay hide behind a clump of trees until the posse passes.
Ed, Dorn, Santos and Latigo instruct the rest of the posse one way while they go to the Travers ranch to get acquainted with Ann.
The Pioneers are doing chores in front of the bunkhouse when Ed gallops up. He asks for the boss while Santos, Dorn and Latigo sneak up and hold them up.
While the gunnies lock the Pioneers in the bunkhouse, Martin knocks on the ranch house door and tells Ann gently about her brother.
Ed Martin identifies himself as Madison's partner tells her he is here to take her to town for her brother's funeral. When Ann tells him that she has promised Clay she will stay at the ranch, Ed lets her know that Clay is a fugitive and her brother's killer. Half convinced that he is telling the truth, Ann allows herself to be put into the buckboard and driven to town. Clay and Bob watch from a hill, unable to interfere because Ann might be hurt.
Meanwhile, the Pioneers have finally broken down the bunkhouse door and escaped.
Bob and Clay tell them to mount and ride. They watch the posse join Ed and Ann, relieved that she will be safe now. They discuss Ed's presence with the outlaws and come to the right conclusion - he is in with them.
Clay sends Bob and the boys into town. Bob, initially worried about being arrested, is told that he and the Pioneers are to say they've quit the Travers ranch employ. They are to keep their eyes on Martin and make sure Ann is safe.
When Ed arrives in town with Ann, he introduces her to the crowd saying that Clay had kidnapped her and was holding her prisoner at his ranch. Ed supposedly overpowered the Pioneers and rescued her.
The crowd reluctantly accepts this just as Bob and the Pioneers arrive. Bob and the boys stride into Kenyon's office and offer their services. Ed is suspicious but Kenyon is not.
Bob takes Ann's arm and tells them he is going to make sure she is settled comfortably. Kenyon and Ed, to be on the safe side, decide to accompany them all to the hotel. Kenyon tries to get rid of them by sending them to the ranch to get Ann's belongings but Bob wisely sends only Pat, thereby foiling that plan.
Ed and his henchman get their heads together and we see that none of them are fooled by the Pioneers' apparent defection. Ed sends some of them to follow the buckboard, others to watch the hotel.
At the funeral, the Sons of the Pioneers sing "One More Hand on the Range" in beautiful a cappella around Frank Madison's coffin. Kenyon and the outlaws pretend sympathy and are, indeed, quite subdued as they see Ann cry. Clay watches from a distance, camouflaged by some trees.
Ann asks to be left alone at the graveside and everyone files off. Kenyon tells Ed and the others he will wait for Ann and then sends them away. Clay stops the buckboard and rescues Ann. He asks why she left the ranch after he had explicitly instructed her to remain there. She admits that she was taken in by the plausible story Martin told her.
Kenyon fires a gun and all the outlaws race back.
Clay puts Ann in front of him on Raider and the race is on.
A posse is formed of the townspeople and they join in.
Clay drops Ann off on the road and the outlaws plus the Pioneers stop long enough to ask her where Clay is. She points down the road. She gestures to Bob to remain while the four outlaws thunder off. Clay comes out of hiding, instructs Pat to take Ann to the ranch and saddle a horse for her while they head after Ed Martin, to make him talk.
Clay and the Pioneers hide behind a group of trees until Ed and his gunnies ride back, searching for them. The Pioneers stop the outlaws and tell them they are all going to be taken to Ranger headquarters.
Unfortunately, the town posse arrives just then. Clay and the Pioneers ride off, the outlaws dismount and pick up their guns then lead the posse after them. The Pioneers and Clay hide in a gully until the posse passes and then head for the ranch.
Kenyon and the posse break up, some heading for the ranch. The Pioneers, Clay and Ann ride off just as the posse arrives. They hide in another gully and watch the posse. Clay instructs Pat to find Lafe Brown in town, round up a few more ranchers and take them to Sycamore Flats after dark.
At Sycamore Flats, as they wait events and Clay and Ann watch, the Pioneers sing "Saddle Your Worries to the Wind" around the campfire.
Ann tries to persuade Clay to stop taking chances. Just then galloping horses bring Pat the the ranchers all prepared to do what it takes to bring the killers out into the open. Clay asks them to call a meeting in the saloon, don't tell who organized it and make sure Martin and Kenyon show up. He has a plan.
Later on, in the saloon, the puzzled men gather and no one seems to know the reason for the meeting.
Outside, Clay, Ann and the Pioneers watch Dorn walk over to Kenyon's office.
Inside the office, Dorn makes his report and the two men decide to leave. They ask Dorn to get the horses and bring them around to the back so they can sneak out.
But just then, Lafe Brown and a few ranchers arrive in time to prevent their escape. They all troop back to the saloon.
Once they are all in the saloon, Clay, Ann and the Pioneers leave hiding and gather outside the swinging doors. Inside, Jed tells Kenyon he has some explaining to do about why the meeting was called. Kenyon said he had nothing to do with it and and someone has played a joke on them. He dismisses the assembly. Right then a shot rings out and Clay yells to stay where they are.
Clay announces from outside in the dark that all the men who killed Travers are in there. Ed is sure Clay is running a bluff but Clay assures he is covered from every window. The panes break in two windows and show men with guns. Clay's idea is a good one. He orders all the innocent men to come out one at a time. A guilty man will get a bullet. The men file out, leaving the four guilty ones standing in the saloon.
Cocky little Santos decides to brazen it out and strides through the door. A gun goes off and then silence. The other four stand rooted to the spot.
The crowd outside is ready to go in and tear them limb from limb but Clay stops them and strides inside alone. He orders the four to drop their guns and turn around. They obey, all but Kenyon who has a hidden gun and drags it out.
A shot is fired and the Pioneers boil in. They hold the henchmen at bay while Clay and Ed go at it tooth and nail. When Clay has won the barney, he directs the Pioneers to take all the crooks to the jail to await the law.
Lafe Brown asks Clay is there is any way the townspeople can square themselves with him for not trusting him. He invites them all to his wedding next day. The crowds roars with approval.
The show ends with the Pioneers accompanying a stagecoach singing "When Pay Day Rolls Around".
As he rides along, Bob cheekily puts his head into the coach window and is pushed away. The blind is drawn down with a snap. The back of the coach is draped with a sheet on which these words have been crudely lettered - "Just Got Hitched".
The Sons of the Pioneers singing Saddle Your Worries to the Wind
Courtesy of Roy Rogers Family Trust
Left to right: Bob Nolan, Lloyd Perryman, Hugh Farr, Pat Brady and Karl Farr
Courtesy of Roy Rogers Family Trust
Left to right: Bob Nolan, Karl Farr, Charles Starrett, Hugh Farr and Lloyd Perryman
Courtesy of Bruce Hickey
Courtesy of Jan Scott
Courtesy of Les Adams
Courtesy of Les Adams
Courtesy of Bruce Hickey
Courtesy of Les Adams