Triple Justice (1940)
Directed by David Howard this typical George O’Brien Western also features Virginia Vale who sings one of this B movie’s songs. O’Brien & Vale teamed for a handful of such films that year. All are average to below average programmers similar to those made starring Tim Holt. Though I prefer the Holt Westerns this is the best of the O’Brien ones I’ve seen.
Three men are gathered just outside of a town they plan to rob. Fred Cleary (Paul Fix) is wearing a checkered shirt which Tom Payson (Malcolm McTaggart) insists he change while Frank Wiley (Glenn Strange) looks on. A stranger rides up on horseback and introduces himself as Brad Henderson (O’Brien). When he learns that the men are on the way to a wedding he says that he is to – that he’s the best man of the groom Sheriff Bill Gregory (LeRoy Mason) whose bride-to-be is Susan (Peggy Shannon). He then follows them into town. Once there the men go their separate ways. Shortly thereafter however Brad finds himself at the wrong end of a gun while two of the men now masked rob the bank shoot the teller (Steve Pendleton uncredited) and flee. After verifying that the teller is indeed dead Brad picks up the teller’s gun and chases after the bandits. Hearing the shot the Sheriff his deputy Al Reeves (Harry Woods) and the others rush to exit the church where the wedding hadn’t started as they waited for the best man. The third masked man stops them shooting the Sheriff before locking the rest of the attendees in and fleeing himself. Deputy Reeves leads the effort to break open the door and then shouts “there he goes” as Brad rides by after the real culprits.
The deputy and his posse catch up to Brad who’d had a brief shootout with the bank robbers. Since Brad’s credentials were taken in the robbery the deputy accuses him of being one of the thieves escorts him back to the town’s jail and locks him up. The deputy then joins the bandits just outside of town. He gives each of them $5000 and keeps the other half for himself because he was the mastermind of it all. Then they all go their separate ways. A local lawyer (Paul Everton uncredited) visits Brad in jail. Brad is able to affect his own escape while locking the lawyer and the deputy in his cell. He then sets out to catch the real villains one by one retrieving their money and returning it by mail (or other means) with his “trademark signature” a pair of pants with an arrow through them. He gets Cleary who conveniently broke his canteen by chasing him across the desert. Reading the name off the saddle plate Brad borrows Cleary’s name; he also uses the label from Payson’s loaned jacket to know that Tule Mesa is where he needs to find that guy. After running into Tule Mesa’s constable (Wilfred Lucas) Brad finds Payson in a poker game and then chases him to his death over a cliff.
Fortunately for Brad he happens to find Payson’s ranch which is occupied by his sister Lorna (Vale). Able to hide from the posse Brad is later found in the hay barn by Lorna. He allows her to take his gun and make him work an honest day for his supper. Later he lets her think she’s made him go straight by returning (her brother’s) $5000. A brief relationship yet love develops; she sings. From Lorna he learns that her brother’s best buddy Frank Wiley can be found at a hacienda in nearby Mexico (they are in Arizona). He travels to the hacienda where he meets & befriends the local constable Don Solas (Jean Del Val uncredited) and listens to his beautiful daughters (the Lindeman Sisters) sing. Meanwhile the deputy is tracking Brad through Tula Mesa’s constable and the telegraph operator (Robert McKenzie). And the sheriff has recovered figured out that his deputy is acting peculiar and that Brad has been tracking the bandits and returning the money. So he follows the same trail as his deputy does to the inevitable predictable shootout at the hacienda in Mexico. That is if the sheriff and his men get there in time. Think they will? But there’s more multiple nuptials in the end!