Along the Rio Grande (1941)
Directed by Edward Killy a Best Assistant Director Oscar nominee in 1934 this Tim Holt B Western was based on a story by Stuart Anthony; the screenplay was written by Morton Grant and Arthur V. Jones. Joined by his usual sidekicks singer Smokey (Ray Whitley) and tall tale telling Whopper (played this time by Emmett Lynn) Holt plays Jeff a trustworthy ranch hand whose boss Pop Edwards (Harry Humphrey) is murdered by rustler Doc Randall (Robert Fiske). Pop’s murder inspires the three wrangler friends to help the sheriff (Hal Taliaferro aka Wally Wales) to apprehend Doc and his gang. Monte Montague plays Doc’s right hand man Kirby.
Because of an improbable turn of events involving banker Joe Turner (Carl Stockdale) Jeff Smokey and Whopper are put in jail overnight as bank robbers by the sheriff. Fortunately for these three one of Doc’s henchman Pete (Slim Whitaker) is already in the cell. After making their introductions Pete informs them that he’s about to be sprung so Jeff asks if he and his pals can come along. Pete then takes them to Doc’s Mexican hideout a Catina run by Paula (Ruth Clifford) and vouches for them. But Doc is not so sure until Mary Loring (Betty Jane Rhodes) who’d been in the jail at the time Jeff et al appeared to be robbing Turner’s bank verifies Pete’s claim. Mary who’d come south of the border to sing tells Paula that she doesn’t want to work in a place that caters to outlaws; she then realizes that she no longer has a choice in the matter.
Suddenly every job Doc’s gang tries to run turns into an ambush; the Sweetwater sheriff seems to know their every move. But Doc continues to avoid capture by not participating in the action while Jeff is able to keep himself and his friends barely above suspicion. Eventually however Doc lays a trap that dim-witted Whopper falls for such that Ray and Jeff are put at risk. With help from Mary who has naturally fallen for Jeff Ray is able to escape to warn the sheriff. Of course the posse arrives just in time to assist Jeff who’d escaped Doc’s clutches and then singlehandedly held the gang at bay with no more than his fists and a six-shooter. In the end even Whopper contributes by keeping the outlaws from escaping on horseback.