Sam Newfield-directed B westerns tend to be among the most trivial of the genre, not inevitably but as a generality. But Bulldog Courage (1935) stands above the average, thanks to a slightly more complex story that doesn't adhere religiously to the white hat/black hat dichotomy, & a great double-role performance out of Cowboy Hall of Famer, Tim McCoy.
Tim plays Slim Braddock, also known as "The Phantom," a stagecoach robber dressed all in black. He's a gentleman bandit & steals exclusively gold that is being transported from a mine he was cheated out of.
Eventually he is seriously wounded & staggers home to say his farewells to his son Tim (Eddie Buzard), & to promise that the true villain of the tale, Williams (Karl Hackett), would one day face the son's vengeance.
Little Tim Braddock grows up to look an awful lot like his dad Slim, but with a bigger smile & a more standardized white-hat good guy attitude toward life. The very demeanor & gaze of Tim Braddock & Slim Braddock are different, & Tim McCoy has done a wonderful job creating distinct personas, though Slim was a more complex guy than the character of his grown son.
He steps in to protect Pete Brennan (John Cowell) & other landholders from the machinations of the Williams gang. The second half of the film follows more the standard formula, but the vigilante philosophy of "the law never serves the little guy" breaks from the formula giving the events a more adult take than usual for this director.
There's also an impressive character performance for the character of "powder monkey" Bailey (Paul Fix) a charming eccentric criminal who is proud to have "devoted my life" to criminally blowing stuff up. When Tim later poses as this oddball dynamiter, it's a legitimate comic moment.
A scant hour like most matinee filler westerns, it's rapidly paced, & excellent-of-kind.
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