The Man from Utah (1934) opens with John Wayne lip-syncing a tinpan alley diddy very distant from western tunes, "Song of the Wild." He's on his white horse, under his white hat, requiring no reigns as he plays his guitar.
The attempt to present Wayne as a "singing cowboy" was fairly foolish since he could barely hold a note on his own, & the voice we're hearing is actually Jack Kirk, a stock player in dozens of minor character parts & no great shakes as a singer himself.
A poverty row picture from Lone Star Productions weighing in at only 55 minutes, John Wayne is "a son of Utah," by the name John Weston.
He's down to his last plug nickle when he rides into town at a lucky moment. Some nonchallant shooting puts an end to a Wells Fargo robbery in progress, & an impressed marshall (Gabby Hayes) immediately hires Westpm to go undercover at a crooked rodeo.
There's a beautiful dark-haired cowgirl in the bad rodeo gang, Dolores (Anita Campillo) of the Mexican Accent. Less thrilling is the "good" girl, Margaret (Polly Ann Young, sister of Loretta Young), daughter of the banker whose main chore is to worry about her man from a distance.
That John Weston ends up preferring the "bad" girl is potentially a nice little break from B-western convention, except it strikes a sour note & doesn't make a lot of sense as written.
The rodeo is run by another stock player, Spike Barton (Edward Peil, Sr). He doesn't have all that much screen charisma even of the villainous kind. He has caused the death of a couple rodeo contestants by rigging things to keep the prize monies in his gang. And he'll be trying to get John Weston to lose via needle of snake-venom in the saddle.
The climactic fight is not well choreographed & some of it is pitch darkness. The idea to turn out the lights might've been because the fight choreographer was sick that day & the action occured in darkness it wouldn't matter.
We get to see a bit of rodeoing & a bit of fine western scenery, mostly from the stock footage collection. The Man from Utah is way too hastily workmanlike to merit praise. It's main appeal is in seeing how much of the John Wayne persona had already developed in his early cheapies.
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