The Marshal sends John Weston to a rodeo to see if he can find out who is killing the rodeo riders who are about to win the prize money. Barton has organized the rodeo and plans to leave with all the prize money put up by the townspeople. When it appears that Weston will beat Barton's rider, he has his men prepare the same fate for him that befell the other riders.
Running Time: 55 Minutes
MPAA Ratings: Passed
A cowboy (John Wayne) goes undercover to investigate a crooked rodeo.
The Man from Utah starts off pretty shaky, utilizing the same laughably bad singing cowboy sequence as the earlier Riders of Destiny (1933). Fortunately, director Robert N. Bradbury drops the signing cowboy angle after this one scene, and delivers an action-mystery that’s one of Wayne’s better Lone Star Productions.
The supporting cast is good. George ‘Gabby’ Hayes plays the Marshall who sends John Wayne’s character undercover, and Yakima Canutt plays a strong villain. For Wayne’s romantic lead, Polly Ann Young, while not exactly spectacular, acquits herself better than most of Wayne’s Lone Star leading ladies.
In many ways The Man from Utah is reminiscent of Bradbury’s later effort, The Star Packer (1934). Both involve an undercover John Wayne, and both have a mystery angle to them, though The Man from Utah is a bit higher on the action, with quite a bit of solid stock rodeo footage tossed in as well.
Bottom Line: The Man from Utah, while certainly one of Wayne’s “B” westerns, is nonetheless watchable, and pretty good when compared to Wayne’s other Lone Star Productions.
"The Man From Utah" opens with a singing cowboy strumming a guitar on horseback. This is how we're introduced to John Weston (John Wayne), heading into town and looking for work. When he helps Marshal Higgins (George pre-Gabby Hayes) foil a bank robbery with his fancy shooting, the marshal offers him an undercover job as a deputy to investigate the Dalton Valley Rodeo. Apparently, the annual winners of the big prize money in the rodeo are a tight knit band of bad boys in the employ of Spike Barton (Ed Peil), who also happens to head up the rodeo committee. Serious challengers to the supremacy of Barton's top henchman Cheyenne Kent (Yakima Canutt) wind up severely ill or dead.
The most interesting stock footage was the lengthy rodeo parade of real Indians, squaws, and papooses. But when the best part of the movie is the stunt work by the Mighty Yak, Yakima Canutt, who gives us jumping from one horse to another and several different running leaps onto a horse, you know we're in trouble. As noted by others, the final fight with the villain is very poorly done.
Robert N. Bradbury
Polly Ann Young
George 'Gabby' Hayes
Edward Peil Sr
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