Raiders of the Red Gap
The Bennett cattle company is terrorizing ranchers and driving them off their land with their hired killers. Rocky Cameron, The Lone Rider, impersonates Butch Crane, a notorious gunslinger and manages to infiltrate the gang. But when the real Butch shows up, Rocky's cover is blown and he rides into the outlaw camp completely unaware that he is marked for death.
Bob Livingston's best known cowboy role was Stony Burke, one of the Three Mesquiteers trio in the 1930s. He originated the character and appeared in 29 films, more than anyone else during the Republic series' long reign. Livingston is also well remembered for playing Zorro in The Bold Caballero (1936) and the Lone Ranger in the 1939 serial, The Lone Ranger Rides Again.
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Men on horseback are shooting their pistols at each other. What is causing this range war? Bennett is trying to drive settlers off their land so he can get it. How can they protect themselves? By organizing the ranchers into a group (“collective security”). Bennett plans to get rid of the rancher who organized the group, then they can build a packing plant that will avoid the costs or shipping cattle. Their scheme is to hire Butch Crane from Texas to eliminate their problems. A man is pursued by others but eludes them. Fuzzy sleeps while that man takes his clothes! Rocky arrives after talking to the Governor, he will seek the evidence to protect the small ranchers. Fuzzy finds the discarded clothing, much better than what he owned. Fuzzy finds a food basket, they feast. A woman reproaches them for taking someone else’s food.
She tells them about the Bennett Cattle Company, who is trying to take the homesteader’s lands. Nothing’s been done to stop them. She is taking that food to men in hiding. Bennett’s men see a man in fancy clothes and mistake Fuzzy for Butch Crane. They take them to Bennett’s ranch. Can Butch prove his identity by trick shooting? There is a test. Bennett will pay $10,000 to get rid of Jim Roberts, the head of the homesteader’s resistance. Rocky and Fuzzy meet Miss Roberts, “strangers aren’t welcome”. The real Butch Crane shows up to meet Bennett. Fuzzy reclaims his clothes, Rocky says he is the real Butch Crane. Bennett orders them to get Roberts’ cattle at night. Roberts’ men capture Fuzzy and take him to see Roberts, who takes Fuzzy to the jail. Crane meets Roberts and offers help. Rocky ties up two of Bennett’s men. Crane leads Roberts to the cattle and offers to work for him.
Bennett plans for the future, he will put the Eastern packing plants out of business with lower prices. Rocky hears about Fuzzy’s jailing and goes to town. Crane tells Bennett about the cattle, and shows a wanted poster to him. Bennett wants to run all the homesteaders out of the county. Fuzzy feasts in jail. Rocky arrives to get him out. Bennett and Crane arrive to see Fuzzy, but take his place in jail. “This is confusing.” Roberts uses the telephone to call the other ranchers together. Bennett’s men raid Roberts’ home. Rocky and Miss Jane Roberts use rifles to defend themselves. Will help arrive in time? Two men try to set the home on fire but are stopped. Bennett’s men surrender. There will be a happy ending for the good guys.
This is a good movie but it’s story could have been implemented better. The famous Johnson County War in 1892 Wyoming was the inspiration for this and similar stories about a corporation trying to take the property of small ranchers. This attempt failed because the targets could defend themselves against the hired guns brought in from another state. The Great Depression also saw economic distress for small farmers and ranchers.