Thundering Hoofs (1942)
Directed by Lesley Selander and written by Paul Franklin this Tim Holt B Western features regular co-stars Ray Whitley (who sings a couple of songs with his band) & Lee ‘Lasses’ White (who provides slapstick comic relief) and a bit more intrigue than usual. Sure you know who the bad guys are in this one led by Archie Twitchell playing a lawyer and there’s a girl played by Luana Walters as usual but the plot while still pretty simple is more complex than most of the others I’ve seen & reviewed. The Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) lists Richard Martin as an uncredited extra in the dance sequence. If this is true it marks the first time that Holt’s regular sidekick (Martin as Chito Jose Gonzalez Bustamante Rafferty) for his late 40’s/early 50’s Westerns appears with him in the same film.
Holt plays Bill Underwood a rancher who’s the son of Dave Underwood (Gordon De Main). Dave wants his son to give up ranching to help him run his stagecoach enterprise which carries passengers of course but the main business is carrying the mail. In fact if the mail doesn’t get through the stagecoach company can be shutdown. Bill doesn’t want to give up ranching and when his father threatens to sell the ranch he leaves. Two of his employees singing Smokey Ryan (Whitley) and goof ball Whopper Hatch (White) decide to leave with him.
Bill and friends happen upon a stagecoach being robbed of its mail by some masked men but arrive just in time to run them off. Its driver Hank (Joe Bernard) who’d been shot in the arm tells them that Dave Underwood’s company is responsible. Bill is skeptical but later learns from Nancy Kellogg (Walters) that she and her injured father (Charles Phipps) believe that Underwood is trying to force them to sell to him. Eventually Bill figures out that his father’s shifty lawyer Steve Farley (Twitchell) is responsible for planting these ideas. Farley who is also Kellogg’s lawyer is playing both sides against the middle – he’s told Underwood that Kellogg wants $40000 while he’s told Kellogg that Underwood is offering less than $10000. A fair price for Kellogg’s stagecoach outfit is $15000. It’s Farley who’s hired the bandits (like Monte Montague who plays Slick) to rob the Kellogg coaches.
Wanting to get to the bottom of these (false) accusations against his father Bill tells Nancy his last name is Dawson and with a recommendation from Hank gets hired on as a stagecoach driver along with his friends. While there’s no mystery as to how this story filled with chases and fights will turn out it does provide a fairly enjoyable hour of light entertainment.