Valley of Vengeance (1944) Poster

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Of interest to PRC fans only!
JohnHowardReid22 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Buster Crabbe (Billy Carson), Al St John (Fuzzy Jones), Evelyn Finley (Helen Miller), Jack Ingram (King Brett), Bud Osborne (Pa Carson), Nora Bush (Ma Carson), Donald Mayo (young Billy Carson), David Polonsky (young Fuzzy Jones), Glenn Strange (Marshal Baker), Charles King (man in black), John Merton (Brett's secretary), Lynton Brent (Dave Carr), Steve Clark (Happy), Hank Bell (wagon driver), Sigmund Neufeld (Shorty), Budd Buster, Edward Cassidy.

Director: SAM NEWFIELD. Original story and screenplay: Joseph O'Donnell. Photography: Jack Greenhalgh. Film editor: Holbrook N. Todd. Special effects: Ray Mercer. Production manager: Bert Sternbach. Assistant director: Melville DeLay. Sound recording: Glen Glenn. Producer: Sigmund Neufeld.

Copyright 15 May 1944 by P.R.C. Pictures, Inc. No New York showcase. U.S. release: 5 May 1944. No Australian theatrical release. 56 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Billy decides it's time to avenge the murders of his own and his sidekick's families twenty years before.

COMMENT: An unusual entry in the PRC Billy Carson series in that the story is told in a couple of flashbacks that occupy almost all of the footage, and that the first flashback features Billy and Fuzzy as youngsters, no less, on a wagon train that is attacked by Jack Ingram and Lynton Brent (Emmett Lynn can be spotted as an extra in this sequence, getting shot, and Hank Bell also has an unbilled part as one of the drivers).

There are at least four whole wagons in the team, thrice that number of personnel and four times as many horses, so you can see production values are not bad by PRC standards even if the photography is flat, the exteriors uninteresting and the raid on the wagon train staged, like the rest of the action, in a thoroughly routine and by no means exciting manner.

In the second of the flashbacks, Crabbe and St John make their entrance and after Buster has his customary tussle with Charles King (using no doubles) whom he hurls over a few tables, it is not too long before we are abruptly staring at the end title (the introductory sequence, which, it turns out, is actually a climax to the action, is oddly enough, not repeated).

Besides this unusual plotting, the script also has an ingenious idea for the character Al St John plays — an explosives inventor which leads to several amusing confrontations with Charles King, the first leading to the saloon brawl with Buster and the second leading to King and his gang's arrest as Fuzzy blasts the shack in which they have taken refuge.

Steve Clark has an unusual role as a member of the gang. At first we suspect (led on no doubt by the casting and the shifty way in which Clark sidles up to our heroes) that he is playing the spy secretly working for the goody rancher, but it turns out that this undercover agent is someone else entirely — someone that we have never clapped eyes on before and who, together with some confederates, literally pops up out of nowhere to help our heroes arrest the gang!

John Merton has probably one of the smallest roles of his career as Jack Ingram's secretary. Evelyn Finley is a rather good-looking heroine and as adequate an actress as the rest of the cast. Glenn Strange doesn't have much to do as the local marshal. Crabbe is his usual self.

The music score sounds delightfully pedestrian. Other production credits are no more than adequate. Production values seem a bit above the average for PRC.
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