Timber Stampede (1939)
Directed by David Howard and written by Morton Grant, from stories by Bernard McConville and Paul Franklin, this George O'Brien B Western is about two crooked eastern businessmen that scheme to steal the rich stock of timber near a cattleman territory known as Wagon Wheel. O’Brien is joined by fellow RKO regulars Chill Wills and Marjorie Reynolds, as well as Monte Montague (among others).
Scott Baylor (O’Brien) and his tall tale telling friend Whopper Hatch (Wills) catch a couple of lumberman contractors stealing their cattle. They then meet Tri-State Railroad’s Jay Jones (Guy Usher) and Foster Dunlap (Morgan Wallace) who, unbeknownst to the two ranchers, are planning to profit by obtaining the lumber rights to the timber in the area at the expense of the cattlemen. They’ve even brought along wide-eyed young reporter Anne Carr (Reynolds) to naively support their efforts.
Scott suspects something is wrong, but is initially put off the scent by the businessmen’s seemingly aboveboard efforts at improving the community. Still, he smells a rat especially when Dunlap buys out Scott’s uncle Henry’s (Earl Dwire) paper “The Clarion” (an uncredited 'Billy' Benedict plays Henry’s assistant). Shortly thereafter, Whopper and Scott discover that a man named Jake (Montague) is encouraging and enabling drifters to file homestead (e.g. farming) claims of 160 acres in the rocky tree-lined ridge land, financing their way in order to obtain the timber rights. They bring their story to the Sheriff (Bob Burns), but he’s soon murdered and replaced by Jones and Dunlap’s hired gun Matt Chaflin (Robert Fiske).
By posing as drifter come homesteaders themselves, Scott and Whopper get inside and finagle a picture (Hank Worden, uncredited, plays the photographer) of the operation to convince Anne that she’s been duped. It’s then a mad race to print an edition of “The Clarion” to expose the ruse before Chaflin and his posse can stop the presses. The showdown between quick draw Scott and the corrupt sheriff ends with the expected result.