Ghost-Town Gold

Ghost-Town Gold

Written by John Rathmell and Oliver Drake
Story by Bernard McConville
Based on the book by William Colt MacDonald
Directed by Joseph Kane

Ghost-Town Gold
The Three Mesquiteers is a prolific series of dime store cowboy novels (beginning with 1933’s Law of the .45’s by William Colt MacDonald) that became a long-running movie franchise. The span of films lasted 12 actors in the three lead roles over 51 films, probably most famously John Wayne during a long stint. Republic Pictures produced all of the films in the series. The original film is simply called The Three Mesquiteers, and stars Robert Livingston, Ray “Crash” Corrigan, and Syd Saylor. Saylor was replaced by Max Terhune as Lullaby Joslin and the three lasted until the 17th film in the series – Pals of the Saddle, where John Wayne took over for Robert Livingston (Livingston also missed one film when he was injured and was replaced by Ralph Byrd.) The cast changes the get more complicated (including Livingston returning after the other two stars were replaced) and if I ever get around to watching all 51 films I’ll be sure to do a retrospective.
Ghost-Town Gold
As is the case with all popular things, there were a slew of imitation cowboy trio series trying to capture the magic of The Three Mequiteers. Monogram Pictures lured Ray Corrigan away for The Range Busters series (1940-43, with Max Terhune also showing up for a few), and then got later Mesquiteer Raymond Hatton for The Rough Riders series (1941-42). Their final attempt was The Trail Brazers (1943-44). Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) had two attempts of their own, The Texas Rangers (1942–45) and The Frontier Marshals (1942). Info on these films can be found on the wonderful B-Westerns site.

Ghost-town Gold is the second film in the series. It’s also the “supernatural” one, in that ghosts are referenced, though ultimately it turns out to just be an elaborate ruse by a crazy old man. Spoilers. It is a typical cheapo Western excursion of the 1930s, back when movies were pumped out like crazy to fill theaters before TV turned America into a land of couch potatoes. Thanks to the magic of existing sets and stock players, these cheap films look way more expensive than many of the cheap films produced today. The supporting cast (as is the case in many of this films) is like a laundry list of legendary Western actors and actresses. Kay Hughes plays the daughter of the mayor, she had a career that was notable for many parts in Westerns. Dirk Barrington is played by LeRoy Mason, who often played the villain in cowboy pictures before his life was cut short by a heart attack. Yakima Canutt, Bob Kortman, and Frank Hagney are among the other players.
Ghost-Town Gold

Stony Brooke (Robert Livingston) – The self-appointed leader of the Mesquiteers who isn’t afraid to shy away from a fight, but will always try to do things right. Bob Livingston played both Zorro and The Lone Ranger in his career.
Tucson Smith (Ray “Crash” Corrigan) – The tough Mesquiteer who will beat the crap out of anyone and ask questions later. Luckily, he manages to only beat up evil people when he leaps into the fray. Besides his serial and Western career, Corrigan is best known to B-movie fans today for his appearances in ape costumes, such as Nabonga.
Lullaby Joslin (Max Terhune) – The Mesquiteer most likely to cause trouble that his two pals have to clean up. Throughout his film appearances in many different Western series, Terhune would bring his dummy Elmer, who often got screen credit! Terhune was in vaudeville and was an expert at magic and card tricks, the card tricks often showing up in films as well.
Elmer the ventriloquist doll (Himself) – The most famous ventriolquist doll in cowboy cinema. And maybe the only one, I haven’t figured that out yet.

Ghost-Town Gold
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Nabonga (Review)


Buster Crabbe as Ray Gorman
Julie London as Doreen Stockwell
Prince Modupe as Tobo
Ray Corrigan as Samson (or Nabonga, I guess)

Riding the wave of King Kong Klones (KKK? That ain’t good…), Nabonga succeeds in having the most ridiculous name of the bunch. Buster Crabbe of Tarzan and Flash Gordon fame returns to fight Ming the Merciless in the heat of the jungle for the future of Earth….wait? No Ming? No Rocket Ships? No fun. Stock footage and random gorilla attacks are a poor substitute. The lone bright spot for this movie is the character of Tobo, and he suffers from being a walking, talking, African tribalman stereotype. Still, he’s the only character you will care about in this film. The live action gorilla Nabonga can’t hold a candle to the stop motion magic that was King Kong. Heck, background extras from Planet of the Apes have better characterization than this gorilla. Wait a minute…Statue of Liberty? THAT WAS OUR PLANET!! You Maniacs! You blew it all up! Damn you! Damn you all to Hell!!

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