Ride Him, Cowboy

  • Directed by Fred Allen
  • August 23, 1932
  • Based on the 1923 novel Ride Him, Cowboy by Kenneth Perkins / Remake of the 1926 film The Unknown Cavalier

A cowboy is passing through a small town when he learns they are going to kill a horse they believe to be dangerous and soon finds himself confronting a mysterious outlaw known as the Hawk.

Ride Him, Cowboy is a movie that feels like it changes course early on but actually it’s all one plot. What starts out as John Drury (John Wayne) having to tame a horse named Duke which he seems to do quite easily segues into an investigation of a mysterious outlaw named the Hawk (Frank Hagney) and his gang raiding local ranchers. One leads into another but when you talk about them the connection just is not there.

John Wayne is the mysterious yet upright stranger John Drury who arrives in the town just at the right moment in order to save the day not only for the horse but for the town. I like the idea of John Wayne doing a movie where he could retrain the horse and win the heart of the inconsequential love interest (which I thought I was going to get) with a little bit of fisticuffs tossed in. I also liked the idea of John Wayne uncovering a nefarious individual posing as a fine citizen (which we also got). And now that I think about it the plot here at least on the latter half reminded me a great deal of the Disney film Home on the Range. Seriously.

They try to make Ride Him, Cowboy a bit of a Western mystery but it plays more like an episode of an ‘80s mystery series where you have a pretty good idea who did it around the time of the opening credits with the fun actually being how the hero figures it out.

I think this movie would’ve been vastly improved without the comic relief Deputy Sheriff Clout. It wouldn’t have ever made it too great but Ride Him, Cowboy would’ve been a much better family friendly action oriented Western without him. That character just brought everything to a screeching halt. Worse he wasn’t even funny. Not even in an old-school comedy way. It was just a moron that you had to wonder why he wasn’t more directly mocked by the characters in the film.

Not to ruin too much but it turns out that Duke the Horse did not attack his owner but instead attempted to protect him after he was cracked on the head when the villainous bandit raided the ranch. And in all the 55 minutes either they didn’t mention it or somehow I totally forgot about somebody mentioning the raid and that the alleged horse attack happened at the same time. That was the pattern of the Hawk. He and his gang would raid ranches but apparently this time somebody that knew him caught him so he got beat. Plus nobody there-most of whom have extensive experience with horses-cannot tell the difference between a horse kick and a blow to the head?

Duke the Wonder Horse knows who the bad guy is right away and there’s a strong implication that Drury gets that this individual is not the nicest of the nice. The reveal of him being the man behind all the troubles it is done better than most I would think. Wayne manages to convey suspicion but when he crosses to realization he’s a little too bug eyed for my tastes.

Ride Him, Cowboy is directed a little poorly but what would you expect from a remake that reuses footage from the original and is done as a shallow diversion? I give them props for an interesting premise but the directing is poor. Not terrible but it could’ve been so much better. With some judicious editing of the script and perhaps in the hands of a slightly better director this could’ve been something special. Not legendary but special.

Ride Him, Cowboy is not a great movie but it’s a worthwhile watch. It is a nice diversion for the general viewer but nothing more. Wayne fans will find enough to enjoy.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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