- Directed by Robert N. Bradbury
- August 19, 1935
A cowboy, having watched his family be murdered and his brother kidnapped as a boy, aims to rid the territory of the criminal gangs unaware that his long-lost brother is a member of one of those very gangs.
Westward Ho is from the early days of John Wayne’s career and is also the first film released by the then fledgling film company Republic Pictures. Wayne was the star of this movie, but he was not the star that he would eventually become. Much of his signature style is not present here but he still turns in a good performance as the movie’s hero John Wyatt.
The story itself is not too sophisticated. The bulk of it is a posse hunting down the baddies. Weirdly the posse is known as a singing posse. I just find that odd. John Wayne, who could not sing, is one of the singers and his singing voice is done by someone that is way too deep to be him. This was a cheap B-movie Western so they just needed two warm bodies to do the jobs and cohesion was not a prerequisite.
There is a love interest here in the form of character Mary Gordon (Sheila Bromley). You could not do a movie like this back then without having a random love interest of some type though in the full context of the story I think she could have been skipped. Her main contribution was to inform John’s brother of the truth of his identity.
Confusingly his brother Jim (Frank McGlynn Jr.) cannot remember his real name and the villain Whit Ballard (Jack Curtis) who kidnapped him has given him a fake name and he is working hard to keep the information from him because he such a great find for the gang. Seriously. Yet Jim at the end of the film clearly remembers wanting to be a bad guy when they were both kids and imparts a brief story. That just strikes me as selective remembrance of information.
Westward Ho though is an entertaining adventure romp. There is nothing deep or sophisticated about this. These types of films were made to be enjoyed and forgotten about and that is exactly what you might be inclined to do but will not. You will enjoy it, and this will stick in your memory because John Wayne was in it. It is a piece of fluff but an entertaining piece of fluff.
Westward Ho is an enjoyable piece of film that is a watch it for Wayne fans, but it is something that can be skipped for the general audience.