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THE THREE MESQUITEERS
(Part 3)

Ratings: Zero to 4 Stars.

The Three Mesquiteers movies of Raymond Hatton, Bob Livingston, Duncan Renaldo

Raymond Hatton, Bob Livingston and Duncan Renaldo on horseback as The Three Mesquiteers.

Movie ad for The # Mesquiteers as the "Kansas Terrors". Three Stars KANSAS TERRORS (‘39 Republic) This Three Mesquiteers Western marked Robert Livingston’s return to the role of Stony Brooke following John Wayne’s interlude with the role for eight films. Since Wayne had become a star in “Stagecoach”, he moved on; Livingston returned, with his name more prominent over Hatton and, with this film, Duncan Renaldo. This entry is different in many ways. Not only is Livingston back as Stony, but at the beginning, as he and Hatton deliver a herd of horses by ship to a small Caribbean island, they are only two Mesquiteers. By helping Renaldo free his people from the tyranny of the Commandante we have the origin of the new grouping of Mesquiteers. This film also allows Renaldo to sing—(albeit dubbed by someone) which he never did again. It also instigates Livingston donning the black Lone Ranger-like mask of ‘The Masked Rider’ (obviously to trade on his fame as the Lone Ranger from the ‘39 Republic serial). It’s a ploy Republic wisely abandoned after six tries as it definitely took away from the original camaraderie of the threesome working together. (Notice how Bob’s voice changes drastically when he puts on the mask. Jeez—it must have been tight!) Notice how, with a few strategically placed potted palms, Iverson’s location ranch turns into a Caribbean isle. Remade in 1943 as “Calling Wild Bill Elliott”.

Two Stars COWBOYS FROM TEXAS (‘39 Republic) The reclamation of vast areas of Western wasteland under President Roosevelt opens up large land tracts for homesteading but cattlemen resent the intrusion causing an open range war. Adding fuel to the flame are a crooked irrigation supervisor and Belle Starkey, owner of the saloon, and her gunman Ethan Laidlaw. They scheme to delay irrigation projects so homesteaders will be frozen out, leaving the schemers to buy abandoned land for practically nothing. But—they didn’t reckon on the Three Mesquiteers.

Bob Livingston wears a Lone Rangerish mask as he rescues Betty Compson and her father from a group of outlaws in "Cowboys From Texas".

Ad for "Heroes of the Saddle".One Star HEROES OF THE SADDLE (‘40 Republic) One of the weakest Mesquiteers entries even though it’s directed by the best— William Witney. When their good friend Kermit Maynard is killed in a rodeo accident, the Mesquiteers care for his daughter placing her in a children’s home which turns out to be run by swindlers who are skimming half the orphanage’s monthly county welfare money off for themselves. ^ ^ Leading lady Loretta Weaver, daughter of Frank and June (Elviry) Weaver, sings a version of the Weavers’ “Down in Logan County”. This was her only B-Western.

Ad for "Pioneers of the West".Three Stars PIONEERS OF THE WEST (‘40 Republic) Following an Indian raid in which their guide is killed, the Mesquiteers lead a group of pioneers west to “new land” promised them by Lane Chandler, who is in reality a swindler in league with crooked judge Noah Beery Sr. Together, they have sold the settlers worthless-for-farming rock-strewn land. But then, when the baddies learn the railroad will come through the settlers’ land, improving its worth immensely, they do everything they can to drive the settlers back off the property. Fortunately, the Mesquiteers intervene and restore law and order. If you want action, this one’s got it from start to finish, including two Livingston masked-rider sequences. Much stock footage is used early on in “Pioneers…”, including, once again, the Wind River Indians from Tim McCoy’s silent “War Paint” (‘26).

Ad for The 3 Mesquiteers in "Covered Wagon Days".Three Stars COVERED WAGON DAYS (‘40 Republic) The Mesquiteers ride to clear the name of Renaldo’s brother! When the Mesquiteers arrive to attend the wedding of Renaldo’s brother they find trading post owner George Douglas and his henchmen (Tom London, John Merton) are buying Mexican silver at 30¢ an ounce and selling it across the border at $1.29 against the Bland/Ellison act. The gang is smuggling the silver from a mine on the Mexican side through a secret tunnel they’ve dug that opens into an old mine on the U.S. side. Afraid they’ll be discovered they decide to begin working the old mine. There’s plenty of non-stop stunts, thrills, action and excitement. At one point, Livingston dons his Lone Rangerish mask, using a whip long before LaRue or Wilson. Incidentally, despite the title, there’s not a covered wagon in sight.

Four Stars ROCKY MOUNTAIN RANGERS (‘40 Republic) Here’s the B-Western at the top of its form. The Texas Rangers have no authority in the no-man’s outlaw haven of the panhandle (before it was annexed to Oklahoma) which is overrun by a lawless band led by LeRoy Mason. When young Sammy McKim is murdered during one of Mason’s ruthless raids the Three Mesquiteers take it upon themselves to enter the outlaw strip. Masquerading as the notorious Laredo Kid, Livingston infiltrates the gang by gaining the confidence of Mason’s brother, Dennis Moore. Secretly, Livingston is foiling Mason’s holdups as the Masked Rider until the real Laredo Kid (Livingston in a meaty dual role) shows up. Of the seven Livingston-Renaldo-Hatton Mesquiteers films, “Rocky Mountain Rangers” must be considered as a contender for top honors.

Bob Livingston shows Duncan Renaldo and Raymond Hatton how he'll use a scar and other things to impersonate The Laredo Kid outlaw in order to gain the badmen's confidence in "Rocky Mountain Rangers".

Ad for The Three Mesquiteers in "Oklahoma Renegades".Two Stars OKLAHOMA RENEGADES (‘40 Republic) An inferior remake of the original “The Three Mesquiteers” (‘36). Following the Spanish-American War, a group of ex-soldiers head for Oklahoma homesteads where they encounter a crooked lawyer and his brother letting a rancher front for them while they secretly plot to grab off the prime rangeland for themselves. Further slowing down the pace is a blackface minstrel show midway through the picture.

The 3 Mesquiteers movies of Bob Steele, Bob Livingston and Rufe Davis.

Bob Steele, Bob Livingston and Rude Davis as The 3 Mesquiteers.

Ad for "Under Texas Skies".Two Stars UNDER TEXAS SKIES (‘40 Republic) Gone after seven entries was the Three Mesquiteers trio of Livingston, Renaldo and Hatton. Livingston stayed on to be joined by Bob Steele as Tucson Smith and Rufe Davis as Lullaby Joslin as Republic tried its darndest to revert back to the idea of the original trio they’d gotten away from with the Livingston-Renaldo-Hatton team. “Under Texas Skies” is a sort-of origin or coming together of these Three Mesquiteers as Livingston returns home after an absence of several years to find his Sheriff father has been murdered and his old pal Tucson (Steele) convicted of the crime. Actually responsible for the killing is deputy sheriff Henry Brandon, the secret leader of an outlaw band, who has now taken over as Sheriff. After exposing Brandon and clearing Tucson’s name, the now united Mesquiteers head out for new adventures.

Three Stars TRAIL BLAZERS (‘40 Republic) Fast and furious—plenty of action as the Mesquiteers fight to put the telegraph through for the Army, thwarted at every turn by nasty Weldon Heyburn and John Merton. Has a Christmas theme as Rufe sings “Jingle Bells”. Was it from this trio title that Monogram drew their ‘Trail Blazers’ name for Maynard and Gibson barely 2½ years later?

Title Card for "The Trail Blazers".

Ad for The 3 Mesquiteers in "Lone Star Raiders".

 

Two Stars LONE STAR RAIDERS (‘40 Republic) The Three Mesquiteers are in their good Samaritan guise once again as they help impoverished, elderly Sarah Padden (a real showcase for this old trouper) who has inherited the Circle-H horse ranch where the Mesquiteers work. Granny Padden believes the spread to be a huge money-maker when in actuality drought and dust storms have decreased the wild horse herds the ranch depends on to round-up for an Army Cavalry contract which would defray the back pay of disgruntled ranch hands. Back of the disappearance of horses and other crooked work is George Douglas who wants the Army contract himself. Nothing special and it all ends, naturally, with a wild horse race for the Army remount contract (a ploy that became a Republic staple over the years).

 

 

Two Stars PRAIRIE PIONEERS (‘41 Republic) Shortly after the Mexican-American War and California’s admission into the U.S., the Mesquiteers lead a group of settlers to the Provendencia Valley in California where Don Ortega, his son and daughter and other Spanish landowners are being invaded by Americano hydraulic mining land-grabbers led by half Spaniard/half American Don Carlos and his men who are fueling the fires of discontent between Spaniards and Americans. The Mesquiteers must help when the son is framed for murder, causing a riff between Stony and Tucson.

Title card for "Prarie Pioneers".

Ad for "Pals of the Pecos".Three Stars PALS OF THE PECOS (‘41 Republic) It’s action all the way as the Three Mesquiteers have a tough time proving to Sheriff Tom London they are innocent of the murder of Dennis Moore, son of honest Pat O’Malley who is building the Sierra Express, a tough overland stage route. O’Malley and his daughter and his young son, Robert Winkler, are opposed by a rival stageline owner and greedy opportunist, a shyster lawyer, saloon owner Roy Barcroft and his gunmen. Note Winkler’s costuming—sort of a juvenile Bob Livingston. Watch for a young Eddie Dean who has a brief fight with Livingston in Barcroft’s bar. Many elements of Oliver Drake’s story found their way into “Old Texas Trail” (‘44) with Rod Cameron—produced by Drake.

 

Ad for "Saddlemates".Two Stars SADDLEMATES (‘41 Republic) Lesser entry in the Three Mesquiteers canon of Westerns is a direct remake of Gene Autry’s “Ride Ranger Ride” (‘36). The Mesquiteers join the Cavalry when the Rangers are disbanded and discover a half-breed is only pretending to help the Army as an interpreter but is secretly leading the Indians on the warpath as the dreaded Chief Wanechee. Gale Storm is barely noticeable as the post Commander’s daughter for whom both Livingston and Steele have eyes. Rufe Davis sings a “tune” with a musical group that includes Spade Cooley on fiddle.
Iron Eyes Cody has a hefty role as Wanechee’s right-hand Indian. Of course, the movie “Indian” whose career stretched back to 1919 was not truly Native American, but of Italian descent. Iron Eyes was born Oscar DeCorti in Louisiana on April 3, 1904. When Oscar came to California circa 1924, he changed his name to Iron Eyes Cody and began acting in silent movies. At 94 he died in 1999 in Los Feliz, CA.

Ad for "Gangs of Sonora".Four Stars GANGS OF SONORA (‘41 Republic) The Mesquiteers make Wyoming a state and stop the lawlessness running rampant in the territory instigated by sly Robert Frazer and his toughs—Real trouble comes when honest newspaperman William Farnum is gunned down. An oldtime newspaperwoman takes over when she discovers her son Bud McTaggart is acting as a crooked lawyer for Frazer.
Homely leading lady June Johnson (1918-1987) is the daughter of comedian Chic Johnson of Olsen and Johnson fame. She’s in four with the Mesquiteers.

 

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