French author Alexander Dumas published in 1844, his classic novel, "The Three Musketeers". In 1936, "Republic Pictures", released the first of their series of Westerns, about "THE THREE MESQUITEERS", "Tucson Smith", "Stoney Brooke", and "Lullaby Joslin", but these were not the first on-screen appearances of the characters, only the most remembered.
This is an overview of the on-screen appearances of Western author, William Colt MacDonald's heroes.
Allan William Colt MacDonald was born in the "Wild West" of Detroit, Michigan, on December 2, 1891, and he passed away in Lakeport, California, on March 27, 1968. This, sadly, is all the biographical information about the author I could find.
THE FIRST TWO MOTION PICTURES
POWDERSMOKE RANGE released on August 27, 1935
The motion picture was directed by Wallace Fox and between 1927 and 1954, the forgotten Fox, directed a combination of 117 "B" Western motion pictures and 1950's television programs. Among those early television shows were, "THE RANGE RIDER", starring Jock Mahoney, "THE GENE AUTRY SHOW", and. "ANNIE OAKLEY", starring Gail Davis.
The screenplay writer for "POWERSMOKE RANGE" was an example of the problems a woman faced during the early motion picture industry. Adele Buggington had to use, at times, the pen name of Jess Bowers, to give the impression she was a man. While, at other times, Adele used her birth name of Adele Burgdorfer.
Harry Carey, Sr. portrayed "Tucson Smith". Carey started acting in 1910 and appeared in a variety of film genres, but became known for portraying "B" Cowboy heroes. Harry Carey was also, a poker playing, drinking buddy, of director John Ford, and character actor Paul Fix. The three came together to have Fix, also a drama teacher, train a young actor they all liked, how to walk like a real cowboy.
The actor was about to appear in his first starring role in director, Raul Walsh's, 1930, wide-screen, Western, "THE BIG TRAIL"! Walsh had just changed the name of this prop boy turned actor, after talking to his friend John Ford, to John Wayne. That story is part of my article, "John Wayne, William Fox: Grandeur and 'The Big Trail", at:
Hoot Gibson portrayed "Stoney Brooke". Gibson was a major "B" Western Cowboy actor starting with the 1910 Western short, "THE TWO BROTHERS". By 1959, as "Union Sergeant Brown", in director John Ford's, "THE HORSE SOLDIERS", Hoot Gibson had appeared in 221 different Western roles.
Guinn "Big Boy" Williams portrayed "Lullaby Joslin". Over his career Guinn would appear in 222 different roles, between 1919 and 1962. Among his films are many silent "B" Westerns, and major films with stars such as Marion Davies, Dick Powell, George Raft, and even Shirley Temple.
He would be seen in the original 1937, "A STAR IS BORN", starring Janet Gaynor and Frederick March, 1939's, "DODGE CITY", starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, 1951's, "AL JENNINGS OF OKLAHOMA", starring Dan Duryea and Gale Storm, the Gary Cooper 1952 Western, "SPRINGFIELD RIFLE". and John Wayne's, 1960, "THE ALAMO".
Above left to right, Hoot Gibson, Harry Carey, Sr., and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams.
The typical "B" plot, has new ranch owners, "Tucson", "Stoney" and "Lullaby", find all their legal documents about the ranch's ownership missing and their livestock rustled. The three track down and confront the thieves and the man behind everything that happened.
THE LAW OF THE 45'S released on December 1, 1935
The motion picture was made by producer brothers Arthur and Max Alexander's forgotten, "Normandy Productions", and released by the equally forgotten, "First Division Pictures". The brothers had a previous company, "Beacon Pictures", and made several earlier "B" Westerns with Guinn Williams.
The screenplay was by Robert Emmett Tansey. Tansey would write the screenplays for 88 "B" Westerns, and direct 53 "B" Westerns. between 1926 and 1951. His screenplay removed "Lullaby Joslin", changed "Stoney's" last name and added comedy touches to the character.
This feature is also misstated as being the first motion picture with "The Three Mesquiteers". The mix-up could be, because the novel, "The Law of the 45's", came out in 1933, and MacDonald's novel, "Powdersmoke Range", in 1934.
Guinn "Big Boy" Williams returned, but portrayed "Tucson Smith".
Al St. John portrayed "Stoney Martin". St. John's "B" Western career was mainly as a side-kick, sometimes using the name "Fuzzy St. John". It would span 337 roles, between 1913 and 1952. St. John appeared with major "B" Cowboy stars, Tom Mix, Bob Steele, John Wayne, William Boyd and Bob Livingston.
Above, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams and Al St. John.
The plot starts with "Tucson" and "Stoney" driving their herd of cattle and rescuing "Charlie Hayden", played by Lafe McKee, from a gang of killers. The two will sell the herd to "Hayden", agree to become ranch hands, and will again deal with the attempted killers and their boss. Romance for "Tucson" comes from "Joan Hayden", played by Molly O'Day.
REPUBLIC PICTURES CREATES "THE THREE MESQUITEERS" SERIES
"Republic Pictures" was located in North Hollywood, within the San Fernando Valley, and not in the actual city of Hollywood, that was on the other side of the Hollywood Hills.
Over the course of the 51 feature films, 11 actors portrayed the trio, with 4 actors portraying replacement characters. The following are short biographies of each actor and the role they portrayed.
Ray "Crash" Corrigan portrayed the role for 24 feature films, and was the second longest actor to remain with the series.
Raymond Benitz was born on February 14, 1902 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He started his career as a physical fitness instructor to actors and others in the early 1930's. He became a stunt man and was known for portraying gorillas in movies. Below, calling himself, Ray Bernard, as the "Orangopoid" in 1936's, "FLASH GORDON", fighting Buster Crabbe.
Also in 1936, Ray Benitz was the leading character in the 12 Chapter Republic Serial, "THE UNDERSEA KINGDOM". From this "Cliff-Hanger" forward, the actor was now Ray "Crash" Corrigan.
My article about "THE UNDERSEA KINGDOM", and also includes the Gene Autry, 1935 "Cliff-Hanger", Science Fiction Western, "THE PHANTOM EMPIRE", "Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu: The Lost Continents in Science Fiction Movies", can be read at:
Republic signed Corrigan to a contract and he appeared in "The Three Mesquiteers" series, and when his initial contract expired. Corrigan switched to poverty-row studio, "Monogram Pictures", and appeared in their rip-off of the Republic series, "THE RANGE BUSTERS".
In 1937, Ray Corrigan made a wise investment by purchasing land in the Santa Susana Mountains, bordering the San Fernando Valley, on the Northwest end of Los Angeles County, and at the entrance to what became known as Simi Valley, on the Eastern end of Ventura County. The land was turned into the "Corriganville Movie Ranch".
Two of the motion pictures filmed at the ranch were Director John Ford's classic 1948, "FORT APACHE", and the first CinemaScope motion picture, 1954's, "THE ROBE". While television shows such as, "THE LONE RANGER", THE CISCO KID", "THE ADVENTURES OF RIN-TIN-TIN", using the Fort built for the Ford movie, "THE ADVENTURES OF KIT CARSON", and, "HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL" were shot in "Corriganville".
After his career started going down, partly due to his alcoholism, in 1958, the very overweight, Ray "Crash" Corrigan portrayed the title character in a little Science Fiction movie that inspired the story for Director Ridley Scott's, 1979, "ALIEN", entitled "IT, THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE", below is Corrigan as the Martian:
At the age of 74, Ray "Crash" Corrigan passed away from a heart attack, on August 10, 1976, in Brookings, Oregon.
Bob Steele portrayed the role in 20 feature films.
Robert Adrian Bradbury was born on January 23, 1907 in Portland, Oregon. His parents were vaudevillians and in 1920 his father found work in Hollywood and hired both his sons, Robert and Bill, to star in a series of fifteen two-reel shorts, under the title of "THE ADVENTURES OF BILL AND BOB".
After dropping out of high school, Bob Bradbury was hired, in 1927, by "Film Booking Offices of America (FBO)", to appear in a series of "B" Westerns and had his name changed to Bob Steele. By the end of the 1940's, Steele had appeared in Westerns for poverty-row, studios, "Monogram", "Supreme", "Tiffany", "Syndicate", and, "Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC)".
"PRC" released a series of Westerns about "Billy the Kid" and the first films starred Bob Steele and featured Al "Fuzzy" St. John as his side-kick. These pictures are part of my article, "Billy the Kid: Hollywood Style", found at:
Bob Steele had roles of varying size in "A" features such as, Director Howard Hawks, 1946, "THE BIG SLEEP", starring Bogart and Bacall, and appeared with his friend John Wayne in, 1953's, "ISLAND IN THE SKY", 1959's, "RIO BRAVO", and Howard Hawks' second remake of that Western, 1970's, "RIO LOBO". My article, "Howard Hawks' 'Rio Bravo' Remade (?) as 'El Dorado' and 'Rio Lobo' Starring John Wayne", may be read at:
In all, Bob Steele had 257 roles to his name, either in movies, or on television.
THE TUSCON SMITH REPLACEMENT: RICO RENALDO
Duncan Renaldo portrayed the role in 7 feature films.
Duncan Renaldo, which wasn't his real name, was neither a Spanish or a Mexican actor, as millions still believe. At his birth, on April 23, 1904, in Oancea, Galati County, Romania, he was Vasile Dumitru Cugheanos. He entered the United States, as a coal passer on the French freighter, S.S. Puget Sound, apparently using an illegitimate passport, as Renault Renaldo Duncan. Who claimed to be a United States citizen, but his illegal entry would finally be discovered in 1933, by then, he had been acting as Duncan Renaldo, but an American court still sentenced him to two-years imprisonment, FDR stepped in and he pardoned the actor!
When Renaldo first entered the United States, he became a portrait painter, but that didn't work out and he found himself as a motion picture producer and actor. Now calling himself, Duncan Renaldo, the producer made his first short film, 1926's, "PUNCHINELLO", playing the title role. As the producer, he hired an unknown Hungarian actor named Bela Lugosi, to play his rival, "Harlequin".
In 1945, Duncan Renaldo would first play the role he would always be associated with, "The Cisco Kid", in "THE CISCO KID RETURNS", followed by another 7 motion pictures in that role. Then in 1950, teaming with a real Spanish heritage actor, Leo Carrillo, Duncan Renaldo moved to television as the "CISCO KID", through 1956. My article, "The History of the Cisco Kid on the Motion Picture and Television Screens", may be read at:
Robert Livingston was the longest running actor in the series, but he did it in three sections. From 1936 into 1937, Livingston portrayed "Stoney", 9 times. In 1938, Livingston portrayed the role, 6 times, and between 1939 and 1941, another 14 times.
Robert Edward Randall was born on December 9, 1904, in Quincy, Illinois. Randall would be billed as either Robert Livingston, or Bob Livingston in his motion picture career. Among his 144 roles were the bank president in the original, 1936, "THE THREE GODFATHERS", "Don Diego Vega" aka: "Zorro", in the first sound "Zorro" motion picture, 1936's, "THE BOLD CABALLERO", he was the title character in the, 1939, "Cliff-Hanger", "THE LONE RANGER RIDES AGAIN", and appeared in episodes of the "LONE RANGER" and "CISCO KID" television programs. Robert Livingston also appeared in a Horror movie, 1946's, "VALLEY OF THE ZOMBIES", and would star in 1973's, soft-porn movie, "THE NAUGHTY STEWARDESSES".
John Wayne portrayed the role in 8 feature films.
Marion Robert Morrison was born on May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa. However, according to John Wayne, when his mother became pregnant again, his parents wanted to name their next son, Robert. So, his middle name was changed to Michael and he became Marion Michael Morrison.
I already mentioned how John Wayne came to be and the following link takes my reader to another look at the early John Wayne. This is about six "B" sound Westerns that were made to match six silent Ken Maynard Westerns. My article is, "John Wayne and 'Duke the Devil Horse", and can be read at:
Director John Ford was part of actor John Wayne's career, for the good and the bad times. My reader may like another of my Wayne articles with links to some others. "John Wayne in John Ford's Cavalry Trilogy: 'Fort Apache', 1948, 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon', 1949, and 'Rio Grande', 1950", is available for reading at:
Tom Tyler portrayed the role in 13 feature films.
Above the original "THE THREE MESQUIETEERS", in the first of the "Republic Pictures Series", from 1936. Left to right, Syd Saylor as "Lullaby Joslin", Ray "Crash" Corrigan as "Tucson Smith", and Robert Livingston as "Stoney Brooke".
Leo Sailor was born on March 24, 1895 in Chicago, Illinois. As character actor Syd Saylor, he started on-screen acting in 1926, and at the end of his career in 1963, had appeared in 439 roles in feature films and on television. His television career started in 1951 and Syd Sailor became the second "Bozo the Clown", appearing on Los Angeles television station KTLA, which I watched as a five-years-old boy.
Above, Tom Tyler, Bob Steele, Lois Collier, and Rufe Davis.
Rufus Davison was born on December 2, 1908, in Vinson, Oklahoma. Another vaudevillian that did Animal and Train sounds, and sang. He first on-screen appearance, as Rufe Davis was in a 1936 short subject and wasn't always in "B" Westerns, but "B" musicals also. In 1949, Rufe appeared in the 7th episode of Season One, of the new television series, "The Lone Ranger". On television, Davis portrayed the train conductor, "Floyd Smoot", in 131 episodes of "Petticoat Junction", and the same character in, 10 episodes of "Green Acres".
James Wesley Dodd was born on March 28, 1910, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dodd was an actor, composer, singer, guitarist, and conductor. He came to Hollywood to play in the "Louie Prima Orchestra", and had 93 roles in motion picture, as Jimmie Dodd, starting in 1940, but is best remembered by my generation as one of the adults on Walt Disney's original "THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB". My article, "M.I.C.K.E.Y. M.O.U.S.E.': Walt Disney's Original Micky Mouse Club, 1955 To 1959: 'An Honorary Mousketeer in Good Standing' Remembers" may be "Mouse-ka-read" at:
Raymond Hatton portrayed the role in 9 feature films.
Raymond William Hatton was born on July 7, 1887, in Red Oak, Iowa. However, different sites list the year of Hatton's birth as either 1883, or 1884. Hatton started on-screen acting in 1909, but again, some sites state the year as 1911. Hatton, as Raymond Hatton appeared as a side-kick, after this series, to "B" Cowboys, Johnny Mack Brown and James Ellison, until 1950. When he switched to television in Ralph Byrd's "DICK TRACY" series, and in 1955, Hatton portrayed the old miner, "Pete", in Director Roger Corman's, "THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED". He also had a small role in the teenage science fiction film, 1957's, "INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN". In all, between motion pictures and television programs, Raymond Hatton appeared in 442 different roles.
In "THE THREE MESQUITEERS", released on September 22, 1936, there is a World War One veteran named "John". The 10th billed role was portrayed by Hugh Milburne Stone, who would be known as Milburn Stone. From 1955 through 1975, and 605 episodes of televisions "GUNSMOKE", viewers would know Stone as "Doc", aka: "Dr. Galen Adams".
The first is, Mary Louise Brooks, known as Louise Brooks. She is consider a Jazz Age icon and a flapper sex symbol with her bob hairstyle at that time. Her look influenced Bob Fosse to create the character of "Sally Bowles" for his musical "CABARET".
The first is, Donald Barry de Acosta, known as Don "Red" Barry. His nickname of "Red" came from Barry being the first actor to portray the comic strip character of "Red Rider" on-screen. He started out as a "B" Western villain, even portrayed, "Jesse James" twice, and, "Billy the Kid", once, see my link under Bob Steele. "Red" Barry became an excellent character actor not just in Westerns, but dramas and on television. In 1958, Barry portrayed the motion picture director who is filming at "Castle Frankenstein" with the permission of the Baron, played by Boris Karloff, in "FRANKENSTEIN 1970". He was also in the very underrated Civil War picture, 1966's, "ALVAREZ KELLY", starring William Holden and Richard Widmark. In 1972, the actor was in director Sam Peckinpah's, "Junior Bonner", starring Steve McQueen and by the end of his career, Don "Red" Barry had appeared in 295 different roles.
The second is, Charles Brown Middleton, known as Charles Middleton. In 1936, character actor Middleton portrayed "Ming the Merciless", for the first of three-times, in the "Cliff-Hanger", "FLASH GORDON", and also portrayed, "Sheriff Ike Vallon", in director James Whale's version of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's musical, "SHOW BOAT". In 1939, Charles Middleton was in "DICK TRACY RETURNS", but is remembered as "The Man With Stove Pipe Hat in charge of the Convict Workers", in, "GONE WITH THE WIND". At the end of his film career, Charles Brown Middleton would have portrayed 199 different roles.
There was another actor with a son who used the "Junior" for some time as an actor.
In "PIONEERS OF THE WEST", released on March 12, 1940, was Noah Nicholas Beery, known as Noah Beery, and the older brother of actor Wallace Beery. Noah Beery started acting in 1917, and appeared in two "Zorro" features. The first was Douglas Fairbanks, Sr's, 1920, "THE MARK OF ZORRO", as "Sergeant Pedro Gonzalez", the sadistic villain of the film, and in the, 1937 "Cliff-Hanger", "ZORRO RIDES AGAIN", as villain, "J. A. Marsden". In 1938, the actor started being billed as Noah Beery, Sr., because of his son's acting. In 1940, Noah Beery appeared in Don "Red" Barry's "Cliff-Hanger", "ADVENTURES OF RED RYDER".
First is Josephine Owaissa Cottle, who would become band-singer, Gale Storm. This was the singer and actress' 3rd on-screen appearance, and she would co-star in both 1941's, "JESSE JAMES AT BAY", and, "RED RIVER VALLEY", with Roy Rodgers, again prior to the arrival of Dale Evans. In 1943, Storm had to confront the "REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES", brought on by John Carradine and would be saved by the second on-screen "Batman", actor Robert Lowery. Gale Storm became a 1950's television personality and starred in both, "MY LITTLE MARGIE", 1952 through 1955, and, "THE GALE STORM SHOW: OH! SUSANNA", 1956 through 1960.
Used in many silent Westerns and this series is Lone Pine, California, located at an elevation of 3,727 feet above sea level. The "ALABAMA HILLS" was a major filming location starting in 1920. John Wayne's first Western, 1930's, "THE BIG TRAIL" and the Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., 1939, "GUNGA DIN", are two of the classic movies using this Lone Pine location.
I previously mentioned the "CORRIGANVILLE MOVIE RANCH" located in Simi Valley, California.
Above a poster for 1939's, "THREE TEXAS STEERS", and a scene from 1959's, "RIO BRAVO". Below, a publicity still of Ray Corrigan, Max Terhune, and Robert Livingston between takes at "Corriganville".
One of the earliest locations for Westerns, started in 1912, was the "IVERSON MOVIE RANCH", located in Chatsworth, California, until 1966. When the State of California cut the ranch in two for what became known as the "Simi Valley Freeway".
The above scene was from director John Ford's 1939, "STAGECOACH". Below, a cowboy in a forgotten movie stands on what was called "Ambush Rock".
The above scene is from the 1926 Western, "SILVER TREASURE", starring George O'Brien. Below a map of the "Iverson Movie Ranch".
There was a third movie ranch located between "Iverson" and "Corganville" and designed to get the overflow of filming from "Iverson". One of my uncle's kept horses there and another rented horses for us to ride. This particular movie ranch is better known not for the film shoots, but who lived on the property at its demise.
Located 12.5 miles from my front door is the place Tom Tyler flew over in "THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL", and many a "B Western movie, or early Western television show was shot at, "VASQUEZ ROCKS", located in the Sierra Pelona Mountains, in Santa Clarita, California.
Below, the dummy of Tom Tyler's "Captain Marvel", flies through "Vasquez Rocks".
Above, the fort built for the 1956 through 1957 television show, "TALES OF THE BENGAL LANCERS". Below, one of the houses from the 1994, "THE FLINTSTONES" motion picture.
Above, Lee Van Cleef and Ralph Waite in a scene from 1972's, "THE MAGNIFICIENT SEVEN RIDE". Below, Leonard Nimoy in a scene from "STAR TREK'S: THE ALTERNATIVE FACTOR". One of several episodes of the television series shot at "Vasquez Rocks".
AN OVERVIEW OF THE ACTUAL SERIES
Like many "B" Westerns of the period, this was a "Modern Western", which meant besides horses, the audience might see motor vehicles and airplanes.
Above, is a lobby card for "CALL THE MESQUITEERS", released on March 7, 1938. Below, a lobby card for the previously mentioned "OVERLAND STAGE RAIDERS". released on September 20, 1938.
The first motion picture in the series was:
THE THREE MESQUITEERS released on September 22, 1936.
As I mentioned above, this was the first motion picture in the "Republic Pictures" series.
The motion picture was directed by Ray Taylor. For 30-years, between 1926 and 1956, Taylor directed 153 feature films, and his career started out with the 1926, "Cliff-Hanger" Western, "FIGHTING WITH BUFFALO BILL". Other of Ray Taylor's films included the forgotten, 1928's, "TARZAN THE MIGHTY", the Tom Tyler, 1933, adventure, "THE PHANTOM OF THE AIR", Bela Lugosi's, 1934, "THE RETURN OF CHANDU", and, Robert Livingston's, 1936, "B" Western, "THE VIGILANTES ARE COMING", co-starring Guinn "Big Boy" Williams.
Charles R. Condon adapted the source novel, there is no title listed, some film historians believe it was "The Law of the 45's", because by this year MacDonald had published 13 books. Condon had performed similar work starting in 1927, and would do the story for 1940's, "OKLAHOMA RENEGADES".
The actual screenplay was written by Jack Natteford. Natteford started writing screenplays in 1916, and his first two "B" Westerns were 1922's, "ROUNDING UP THE LAW", and, 1923's, "CYCLONE JONES", both starring Guinn "Big Boy" Williams. Jack Natteford also wrote "B" Western screenplays for Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard, Harry Carey, Sr., Tom Mix, Buck Jones, and, Bob Steele. Along with several long forgotten other "B" Cowboys.
Kay Hughes portrayed the first "Three Mesquiteer Heroine", "Marian Bryant". Hughes' first 9-movies were uncredited very small roles. Her first on-screen credited role was 15th-billing as "Louise", in director "Wild Bill" Wellman's 1936, "ROBIN HOOD OF EL DORADO", starring Warner Baxter as "Joaquin Murrietta". Just before this feature, Hughes co-starred with Robert Livingston in 1936, 12-Chapter "Cliff-Hanger", "THE VIGILANTES ARE COMING", and followed this picture co-starring with Gene Autry and Smiley Burnett in, 1936's, "RIDE, RANGER, RIDE".
Kay Hughes would also co-star in the second motion picture of the series, "GHOST-TOWN GOLD", released on October 26, 1936.
John Paterson McGowan known as J.P. McGowan portrayed the first villain of the series, "Brack Canfield". McGowan was born in South Australia, and became an actor, writer, and director of motion pictures. As an actor, between 1910 and 1951, McCowan portrayed 235 different roles, as a director, between 1912 and 1938, he directed 236 motion pictures, as of writer he wrote 30 screenplays, and let's not forget J.P. McGown also produced 22 motion pictures.
This screenplay is set in 1919, and starts with U.S. Army Veterans "Lullaby Joslin", played by Syd Saylor, and "Bob Bryant", played by Gene Marvey in one of his only two motion pictures, recovering from their First World War injuries in a stateside Veterans Hospital. After recovery and discharge, the two decide to head for the San Juan Basin, of New Mexico, to purchase land under the "Homestead Act".
The two arrive at the town of Carriozo, New Mexico, and meet up with other Vets using the "Homestead Act". They also meet two cowboys, "Tucson Smith", played Ray Corrigan, and "Stoney Brooke", played Robert "Bob" Livingston. All of the new homesteaders also meet "Brack Canfield", who gives them some friendly advice, they should keep moving west for their own good.
All the Veterans now head for San Juan Basin, this is where Old Style Westerns meet Modern Style Westerns, as some of the Vets use covered wagons and horses, but "Lullaby" stays with his motorcycle. Meanwhile, "Brack" has his brother "Olin Canfield", played by Al Bridge aka: Al Bridges aka: Alan Bridge another "B" Western movie bad guy, create a landslide that will look like an accident. The Vets make it past the landside safely, but "Tucson" and "Stoney" go investigate and discover this was no accident. All leading to "Lullaby", "Stoney" and "Tucson", backed by the Veterans, taking on "Brack Canfield" and his gang in "B" Western style.
Above, Syd Saylor confronts John Merton and Al Bridge.
"PRAIRIE PIONEERS", was released on February 16, 1941, but the story takes place in 1853.
"THUNDERING TRAILS", was released on January 25, 1943, but the story takes place in 1871.
"THE PHANTOM PLAINSMEN", was released on June 16, 1942, but the story takes place in 1937.
"VALLEY OF HAUNTED MEN", was released on November 13, 1942, but the story takes place in 1941 and "The Three Mesquiteers" are after "Three Escaped Nazi's".
During the year that proceeded the release of the 4th "Three Mesquiteers" entry, American audiences saw, director Todd Browning's, "THE DEVIL DOLL", director Lambert Hillyer's lesbian vampire movie, "DRACULA'S DAUGHTER", Hillyer's "THE INVISIBLE RAY", starring Karloff and Lugosi, director Victor Halperin's, "REVOLT OF THE ZOMBIES", and director Michael Curtiz's, "THE WALKING DEAD", starring Karloff. Not to forget five possible foreign horror releases that included one from Nazi Germany.
So, it wasn't unimaginable that our heroes would encounter supernatural horror in one weird "B" cowboy movie.
RIDERS OF THE WHISTLING SKULL released on January 4, 1937.
The screenplay was based upon William Colt MacDonald's 1934 novel of the same name. The adaptation was by both Bernard McConville, who started turning novels into movie scenarios in 1915, and Oliver Drake. Drake, a "B" Western writer since 1927, worked with John Rathmell, another "B" Western writer since 1934, on the actual screenplay.
After "Professor Marsh", played by John Van Pelt, disappears while searching for the Lost City of Lukachukai, Lókʼaaʼchʼégai in Navajo. The actual Lukachukai region is located in Apache County, Arizona, but the movie was filmed in the cliffs around St. George, Utah.
A party of anthropologists including the professor's daughter, "Betty", arrive at an unnamed Western town to prepare an expedition to find her father.
Meanwhile, "Tucson Smith", played by Ray Corrigan, "Stony Brooke", played bt Bob Livingston, and, "Lullaby Joslin", played by Max Terehune, have discovered a man wondering delirious in the desert.
Above, "Professor Flaxon", portrayed by C. Montage Shaw, 1936's, "THE UNDERSEA KINGDOM", 1938's, "FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO MARS", and, 1939's, "ZORRO'S FIGTING LEGION", explains the archeological treasure to be found in the Lost City.
It is the above skull-like formation that is the source of the pictures title, because it seems to whistle as the wind blows through it. There is an ancient and unknown tribe of Native Americans that have lived in Lukachukai, located inside the mountain of the skull..
"THREE TEXAS STEERS" released on May 12, 1939
The screenplay was co-written by Betty Burbridge, who between 1914 and 1949, had written 125 and switched to television Westerns. Co-writer, Stanley Roberts started writing "B" Western screenplays in 1937, for Kermit Maynard, Tim McCoy, Gene Autry, but in 1951, Roberts wrote the screenplay for Arthur Miller's, "Death of a Salesman", starring Frederick March, and in 1954, Roberts wrote the screenplay for the Humphrey Bogart classic, "The Caine Mutiny".
Next, things backfire on "Ward", as "Nancy" decides to live on the ranch and use it as a home for her circus performers and livestock. The person who keeps offering to purchase the ranch works for "George Ward", who knows the government wants it as a site for a new dam and the property is very valuable.
The circus people have a run-in with "Ward's" henchmen and are rescued by "Stoney Brooke", played by John Wayne, "Tucson Smith", played by Ray Corrigan, and "Lullaby Joslin", played by Max Terhune. There's a mix-up over the ranch, because of an upside-down sign. "Nancy Evans" thinks the 3-M ranch is her W-E. The boys don't have the heart to tell her that's their ranch and decide to stay on the run-down W-E ranch and fix it up. "Ward's" men don't know that the "Mesquiteers" are on the ranch and set the barn on fire. The next day the boys explain the mix-up and help "Nancy" get a permit to have her circus perform. Then "Nancy" believes it's "Stoney", who she likes, "Tucson" and "Lullaby" that are attempting to swindle her.
UNDER TEXAS SKIES released on September 30, 1940
Once again, the screenplay was based upon characters created by, William Colt MacDonald.
Lois Ranson portrayed "Helen Smith". Ranson only appeared in 15 motion pictures between 1939 and 1943. After "Republic Pictures" dropped her contract, she made one more picture for "Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC)", "THE RENEGADE", starring Buster Crabbe as "Billy the Kid", and vanished from the film industry. I could not locate anything else on her, except that she passed away on July 4, 2021.
RIDERS OF THE RIO GRANDE released on May 21, 1943
The feature was directed by Howard Bretherton. Bretherton started directing in 1926, with "WHILE LONDON SLEEPS", starring dog actor, Rin-Tin-Tin, but had been a film-editor since 1922. He became a "B" Western director starting in 1935, with "Hop-a-Long Cassidy", starring William Boyd, and continued into 1948.
The story was based upon William Colt MacDonald's characters and the screenplay was written by Albert DeMond. In 1927, DeMond started out by writing titles for silent motion picture and with the advent of sound, moved to writing full screenplays.
Lorraine Miller portrayed "Janet Owens". "B" actress Miller would only have 35 roles to her credit between 1936 and 1961. The majority were in Westerns, but she was the "Hatcheck Girl", without on-screen credit, in director Howard Hawks', 1946, version of author Raymond Chandler's, "The Big Sleep". starring the newly married team of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
Eric Efron, was born in Russia, and known as Rick Vallin. He portrayed "Tom Owens" and started on-screen acting in 1938, became a reliable "B" character actor appearing in a variety of genres in both movies and on television through 1966.
In their last feature film "Tucson Smith", played by Bob Steele, "Stoney Brooker", played by Tom Tyler, and "Lullaby Joslin", played by Jimmy Dodd, do not appear until 14-minutes into the 55-minute feature.
"Pop" had created a trust for "Janet" and "Tom", which will more than cover the banks debt and give each a solid financial stake. He goes to "Skelly" and asks him to hire someone to kill him to put the trust into effect, still not knowing the saloon owner robbed his bank. "Sam Skelly" sends instructions to the "Three Cherokee Brothers", "Saspaparilla Cherokee", played by Roy Bancroft, "Thumber Cherokee", played by Charles King, and, "Butch Cherokee", played by Jack O'Shea. but enter "The Three Mesquiteers". Who are believed to really be the fierce outlaws by "Pop Owens" amd he tells them his plan. The boys decide to play along while investigating whose behind the robbery. At "Skelly's" saloon, the two sets of three first tangle with each other. Below, the same two sets once more confront each other.
The Three Mesquiteers
Come On Cowboys
Heart of the Rockies
The Trigger Trio
Wild Horse Rodeo
Call the Mesquiteers
Outlaws of Sonora
Heroes of the Hills
Pals of the Saddle
Santa Fe Stampede
Red River Range
Three Texas Steers
New Frontier aka: Frontier Horizon
The Kansas Terrors
Cowboys from Texas
Rocky Mountain Rangers
Under Texas Skies
Lone Star Raiders
Pals of the Pecos
Gangs of Sonora
Outlaws of Cherokee Trail
Gauchos of El Dorado
West of Cimarron
Code of the Outlaw
Raiders of the Range
The Phantom Plainsmen
Valley of Hunted Men
The Blocked Trail
Santa Fe Scouts
Riders of the Rio Grande