Harold Goodwin and his gang have been rustling horses. Everyone thinks it's the wild stallion, The Strawberry Roan, who's been breaking them out. They rope him and bring him down to William Desmond's ranch. He offers his spread to the man who can ride her. Ken Maynard, who's courting Ruth Hall, waits his turn. Universal certainly knew how to spend their money cannily on their westerns. Although the copy I saw looked like it was cobbled together from an assortment of clips, there's some lovely shots by cinematographer Ted McCord, Nate Gatzert's script works well, and Alan James' direction emphasizes the rough good humor and sense of fair play of the cowboys, rather than the standard backing story. The long riding sequences, instead of going on forever, allow the pacing to cool down; the musical interludes amuse because Ken Maynard can't carry a tune; and the big ending isn't a gallop to chase the bad guys and a shootout, but a herd of wild horses wrecking the ranch, and Ken's attempt to ride the title beast. It's a delightful change of pace from the standard B western.
The mares Jim Edwards are losing is being blamed on a wild horse when it is actually his foreman Hawkins. Colonel Bownlee offers his ranch to anyone who can ride this wild palomino. Ken takes up the challenge and also seeks the real thief.
October 27, 2020