The most outstanding series of westerns began in 1935 from Paramount Pictures “Hopalong Cassidy”, under the guiding hand of producer Harry “Pop” Sherman…continued well into the ’40s proved to be the most successful ‘B’ Westerns ever made…based on Clarence E. Mulford’s stories, they strived in changing Cassidy’s image, which was both original and influential…the hero, played by William Lawrence Boyd, was mature and a man of his word…the plots were solid with a sudden burst of climactic action in the last reel, usually a frantic chase backed by tension-building music.
In all, Boyd made sixty-six Hopalong Cassidy Westerns, early films included Uncle Ben and Windy Halliday, both played by veteran actor George “Gabby” Hayes…was a steady favorite as a hitchrack, was chosen five years in succession as one of the 10 best money-making Western sidekick stars…like most western comics, had his share of narrow escapes being thrown from his horse, burned by blanks…but that was all in a days work…his one-liners will never be forgotten…”You’re dern tootin’”…”Never trust a female, they’re pure poyzin”…or my all-time favorite ~ “Persnickgordy Women”…this crusty old-timer stole many a scene from John Wayne, Randolph Scott and yes even William Boyd.
In this Volume One we have five films of the following:
BORDER PATROL (1943-B&W-65 mins)
Boyd (Hoppy), Andy Clyde (California Jack Carlson), Jay Kirby (Johnny Travers), George Reeves, Duncan Reynaldo, Robert Mitchum.
As Texas Rangers, Hoppy, California and Johnny trying to end a scheme which smuggles Mexicans into the United States to become essentially slaves in a silver mine owned by Orestes Krebs…The three Rangers are captured, sentenced to hang, and then escape. They free the slaves and capture the bad guys…Duncan Renaldo (The Cisco Kid) as a Mexican police commandant…Robert Mitchum plays a badman of the plains…lots of action including four gunfights, plus comedy and get camaraderie by the entire Paramount cast.
DOOMED CARAVAN (1941-B&W-62 mins)
Boyd (Hoppy), Andy Clyde (California Jack Carlson), Russell Hayden (Lucky Jenkins), Morris Ankrum, Minna Gombell
With Jane Travers next caravan, she asks Hoppy to guard against the bandits who have been out to stop her shipments…men dressed as soldiers to escort the caravan are fake…Hoppy immediately sees through this farce and he, the Bar 20 boys foil that plan…but as the plot would have it, everyone is captured but Hoppy and are being sent off to the firing squad. Now Hoppy has to find a way to save them singlehandedly…Hoppy must make sure this doesn’t happen…will Hoppy succeed…will there be another chapter in the Adventures of Hopalong Cassidy…don’t miss the final conclusion of this exciting B-Western to end all B-Westerns!
FOOL’S GOLD (1947-B&W-63 mins)
Boyd (Hoppy), Andy Clyde (California Jack Carlson), Rand Brooks (Lucky Jenkins), Robert Emmett Keane, Steve Barclay, Jane Randolph, Harry Cording
Hoppy is requested by the Colonel to bring back his son to face a court marshal…the Bar 20 foreman (Hoppy) finds him in Professor Dixon’s gang, who is out to swindle the government of a large gold shipment. But just as Hoppy and his friends learn Dixon is substituting copper bars plated with gold for the real ones…will they be able to ride fast enough to catch up with the gang and stop the real gold shipment from being stolen…well, you know Hoppy, and when danger and outlaws are involved he usually comes through and saves the day.
FORTY THIEVES (1948-B&W-60 mins)
Boyd (Hoppy), Andy Clyde (California Jack Carlson), Jimmy Rogers (Himself), Kirk Alyn, Glenn Strange, Hal Taliaferro, Louise Currie, Herbert Rawlinson, Jack Rockwell
Hoppy is beaten by Jerry Doyle in a local sheriff election…Doyle a gutless nobody is elected by every outlaw and badman in town…when Hoppy tries to impeach the sheriff, the outlaw leader Tad Hammond sends for and hirs 40 gunhands to stop this action by our man in black…can Hoppy walk away from this in one piece…more than a dozen men come at Cassidy with guns blazing, but our hero shoots the lights out and gives them what for and sends them packing to the calaboose (the jail)
HIDDEN GOLD (1940-B&W-61 mins)
Boyd (Hoppy), Russell Hayden (Lucky Jenkins), Britt Wood (Speedy), Roy Barcroft, Eddie Dean, Jack Rockwell, Ruth Rogers, Ethel Wales.
Having been called in to investigate a series of stage holdups, Hoppy and Lucky Jenkins use the excuse to visit an old pal of the Bar 20 Speedy (Britt Wood)…Hoppy suspects it may be ex-outlaw Colby (Roy Barcroft) who is taking gold from his own mine and robbers elsewhere…Speedy strikes gold and Cassidy borrows it then announces a fresh shipment hoping to catch the gang and their leader…final scene is worth the price of a ticket, as…
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Marvelous! Five,yes 5, Hopalong Cassidy B Westerns for less than half the price that one could reasonably expect to pay for one. Image Entertainment’s ‘Hopalong Cassidy – The Early Years’ are priced at around $22.00 for just two movies. So, these get five stars for value, five stars for quality (all movies are digitally remastered) and an average three and a half stars for production values of the movies themselves. That’s top marks because all of Hoppy’s westerns are ‘B’ movies with an ‘A’ movie feel. (I rate most B Westerns between One and a half and three and a half stars as all are low to medium budget; at best) These are the later years, 1940 plus, and have stars like Robert Mitchum in the early stages of his career.
I’ve not a lot to say about the movies themselves and this review applies to all eight volums with the exception of ‘Wide Open Town’ (1941)in Vol 4; because you know what to expect with regards to this type of film and none of these will disappoint. ‘Wide Open Town’ is a remake of ‘Hopalong Cassidy Returns’ (1936) and has some interesting observations which I shall share.
1) Evelyn Brent the saloon owner and boss of the villians, she plays the same role in both, even some of the dialog is word for word identical; which means the producers must have reworked and borrowed heavily from the same script.
2) In ‘Hopalong Cassidy Returns’ Morris Ankrum (aka Stephen Morris) plays Evelyn Brent’s henchman ‘Blackie’ and he foully murders the local crippled newspaper editor. In ‘Wide Open Town’ Morris Ankrum plays the part of the newspaper editor and is on the side of “Hoppy”. Comedy relief is ably carried out by Andy Clyde as California instead of George ‘Gabby’ Hayes ‘Windy Holiday’.
In spite of the above, these two movies are not entirely the same and the remake has some different twists in the story. The ending is a little happier!
The entries in Vol 1 are, in order of presentation, ‘Border Patrol’(1943) ‘Doomed Caravan’(1941) Fool’s Gold’(1947) ‘Forty Thieves’ 1944 and Hidden Gold (1940) I’ve purchased all eight volumns, 40 movies for $82.00 including postage and packing to Australia; this is truly unbelievable!!!
I would like to point out that these aren’t Region 1 encoded as stated by Amazon. They are encoded ALL REGIONS and can be played anywhere in the world. No matter where you live you can purchase these with confidence.
Five Hopalong Cassidy B westerns in one DVD at an absurdly low price is ridiculous indeed. Yet, here it is by Platinum. There are four volumes of pure Hoppy westerns and it would be be ridiculous not to get all of them. These are not bootleg copies but products sanctioned by U.S. Television Office, the Hopalong Cassidy copyright holders. What then makes these different from the Hoppy DVD released by Image (also with US Television Office blessing)? Not much really. Except that those coming from Image are the vintage 1930′s movies while the Platinum ones are circa 1940′s. The 1930′s westerns have a different feel to them, that makes the Image products quaint. Also, the Image products have additional features and with almost “Criterion Collection” like picture quality. These have been cleaned up and enhanced. But the 1940′s Hoppy films from Platinum are also of very good quality. The clear and sharp images (for an economical product) is unbelievable. I suggest you get all the four volumes. There are also no “repeats” of the the Image selection in these Platinum releases. You can have both collection, one of the 1930′s Hoppy and the other the 1940′s releases. You’ll enjoy the many hours of watching Hoppy westerns.