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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

SANTA FE STAMPEDE -- Movie Review by Porfle


Currently watching: SANTA FE STAMPEDE (1938), starring John Wayne, Max Terhune, and Ray "Crash" Corrigan as "The 3 Mesquiteers."

This horse opera is no better or worse than a lot of Duke's "B" westerns from the 30s, which means it's mildly enjoyable while also being wholly unremarkable.  

(I won't mention the fact that there aren't even any cattle in the movie, and thus no titular "stampede.")


The plot is the usual stuff about a town bigwig with a sinister plot to make a bundle of easy money at the expense of innocent townsfolk, with Duke getting wrongly accused of murder in the bargain.

The thing that sets it apart is that something happens midway through that's so shocking, and such a horrific downer, that it casts a pall of tragedy over the rest of the film from which it never recovers.

It's so bad, in fact, that seeing the main villain get punched unconscious by our hero at the end doesn't even begin to give us the vengeance we crave.


Nor does the traditional weak bit of comedy relief at the fadeout seem in any way appropriate for characters who should still be in a state of profound grief and outrage.

Probably the most noteworthy thing about it is that only a scant year later, John Wayne would finally become a major Hollywood star in John Ford's classic STAGECOACH.

But just as the horrific passenger plane crash in DIE HARD 2 lingered over that film's attempts at a feelgood ending, SANTA FE STAMPEDE's mid-film shocker plunges a hot branding iron through its modest enjoyment value.


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