Case Number 17130: Small Claims Court

BIG IRON COLLECTION

Colorado Ranger
VCI Home Video // 1950 // 55 Minutes // Not Rated
Crooked River
VCI Home Video // 1950 // 50 Minutes // Not Rated
Fast On The Draw
VCI Home Video // 1950 // 55 Minutes // Not Rated
Hostile Country
VCI Home Video // 1950 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Marshall Of Heldorado
VCI Home Video // 1950 // 53 Minutes // Not Rated
West Of The Brazos
VCI Home Video // 1950 // 58 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // August 28th, 2009

The Charge

Fast on the draw...slow with the ladies.

The Case

Thomas Carr was given a seemingly impossible assignment: film six Westerns at the same time and in a single month for Lippert Pictures. Using mystical directing abilities he learned while doing serials for Republic, Carr reused props, costumes, sets, and actors to get the job done. VCI packaged the result as the Big Iron Collection, which contains Crooked River, Colorado Ranger, Fast on the Draw, Hostile Country, Marshal of Heldorado, and West of the Brazos.

All six films star James Ellison and Russell Hayden. In each movie they have the same names ("Shamrock" Ellison and "Lucky" Hayden), but play different characters. Undoubtedly, Carr wanted to reduce confusion for everyone involved by not only giving the actors one name to remember, but their own names as well. Raymond Hatton and Fuzzy Knight also appear in all six films and also get the same name each time. Actually, Hatton doesn't even get a name, he's just the Colonel. Only Julie Adams, as the special lady in each movie, gets to switch up her name.

I'd give you the plots, but really, that's not too important. All that's important is, Shamrock is the hero, Lucky is almost always his comedic sidekick, by the end, they'll have killed the bad guys, and Shamrock almost always gets that final, just before the fade-to-black, kiss with Julie Adams.

Since each movie is only an hour long, there's not really a lot of time for anything to develop. The stories go by lickety split, sometimes with little or no attention paid to logic or reason. In Crooked River, Shamrock meets up with a gang of bandits, and they instantly accept him into their fold, even though they have absolutely no reason to do so. They even let him go back to town, knowing the location of their secret hideout, to take a sick bandit to the doctor. There's no time to show gradual trust building, so they just avoid all that ickiness.

It also gets a tad formulaic, which works for and against this kind of movie. The audience instantly knows who's bad and who's good and how it's all going to play out. To help stave off complete tedium, though, they do change up the formula, with actors who are usually good playing for the other team every so often.

Yet, for all the faults these movies have (stilted acting, lackluster stories, goofy nicknames), they're still out and out fun. There's basically nonstop action. There are massive gun battles, runaway stage coaches, and fisticuffs aplenty. There's also plenty of goofy humor thrown in. Watching three gunslingers try and take care of a baby actually got some laughs out of me as, out of desperation, they just hand over one of their guns to quiet the kid. It's mindless, but it's a fun way to kill an hour.

VCI has also thrown in a few vintage trailers and photo galleries of the posters and ads, as well as an interview with Thomas Carr. Unfortunately, the audio quality isn't very good, so it's sometimes hard to make out what he's saying.

For any fan of those old-style Westerns, where the bad guys wear black hats and the good guys have names like Shamrock, they're definitely worth checking out. They're short, fast, and fun, if a little on the dumb side.

The Verdict

No cattle rustlers, horse thieves, or baby killers in this bunch. Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2009 Dylan Charles; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice, Colorado Ranger
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Colorado Ranger
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 55 Minutes
Release Year: 1950
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Colorado Ranger
* None

Scales of Justice, Crooked River
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Crooked River
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 50 Minutes
Release Year: 1950
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Crooked River
* Interview

Scales of Justice, Fast On The Draw
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Fast On The Draw
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 55 Minutes
Release Year: 1950
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Fast On The Draw
* None

Scales of Justice, Hostile Country
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Hostile Country
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 1950
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Hostile Country
* Photo Gallery
* Trailers

Scales of Justice, Marshall Of Heldorado
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Marshall Of Heldorado
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 53 Minutes
Release Year: 1950
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Marshall Of Heldorado
* None

Scales of Justice, West Of The Brazos
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, West Of The Brazos
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 58 Minutes
Release Year: 1950
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, West Of The Brazos
* None

Accomplices
* IMDb: Crooked River
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0042356/combined

* IMDb: Colorado Ranger
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0042337/combined

* IMDb: Fast on the Draw
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0042448/combined

* IMDb: Hostile Country
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0042576/combined

* IMDb: Marshal of Heldorado
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0042714/combined

* IMDb: West of the Brazos
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0043125/combined