- Directed by Joseph Kane
- March 9, 1936
A young sharpshooting lawyer returns to his hometown to avenge the murder of his family and the theft of their land.
John Wayne stars as the hero of this film who is named John Clayborn. Using something called “right of discovery” (“I found it so it’s mine”), local wannabe land and cattle baron Alexander Stiles (Cy Kendall) and his men force or bully anyone that gets in their way into giving up their property. John’s family is one such unlucky group and Stiles kills them all but the young John in a shootout. I am still not sure how this little kid crossed the Texas frontier by himself to get to his grandfather.
John grows up and goes to school. After passing his bar exam he plans on returning to his hometown and put up a shingle. His is going to use a combination of the law and gun fighting to get justice. Being that the “right of discovery” has no firm legal ground the law is largely on his side by the bad guys always have the upper hand.
John has not even hit the edge of town before he falls in love with the first woman he sees. Seriously! Her name is Belle Jackson (Muriel Evans). This happens a lot in John Wayne films. It is a bit of a cliché. Then again at the time he was seen as a dashing leading man and a woman swooning at the dashing leading man upon first sight was a bit of a trope of the era.
The film pretty swiftly moves through its story. It’s a little over 55 minutes so what can you expect? While it does move swiftly it does not rush through anything. You get all the important points and miss nothing. In that way it works like an episode of an anthology series.
King of the Pecos is a mix of comedy and drama. Most of the comedy comes from two locals that John connects with early on. The rest of the film is fairly serious with people getting shot and gunfights and murder plots. Sounds like a laugh riot to me.
This is a touch on the silly side and a bit on the inconsequential. Truth be told I am surprised it has survived this long considering other films that are a little newer than this have been completely lost. It is a fun, unforgettable story but that also means there’s nothing special about it other than the presence of John Wayne. I’m not calling it bad but it’s not great either.
King of the Pecos is not a bad movie. It’s not great either. This is barely an if you want. It’s entertaining but not necessary viewing.