Men of America Film Details
Overview: A gang of bank robbers hide out in a cabin near a valley road that was closed because of an earthquake. They had just robbed a bank of $50,000, but in $1000 bills, which the leader, Cicero,…
Review: I started watching this with low expectations. After all, it was a one hour B programmer from RKO in 1932 with no big stars in it. But, wow, was I wrong. The film starts out showing the past in just a couple of scenes of Smokey Joe Miller (Chic Sale).It shows him shooting it out while riding the Commanche Trail with a herd of cattle in 1887, and later shooting it out against bandits while riding shotgun on a stagecoach in 1899. But those days are behind him now, the west is tamed, and it is 1932. Now Smokey runs a country store in California, surrounded by small farms. His granddaughter, Anne (Dorothy Wilson) is in love with a farmer (Bill Boyd as Jim Parker) who is having a tough go of it. He’s a WWI vet and as a result gets certain financial aid for his farm. Smokey Joe knows nothing about Jim, except that he gets all kinds of pamphlets and money from the government, and somewhat resents him for that given his independent past. He wonders if such a fellow can take care of his granddaughter if they marry. Plus Jim does like to have a little fun at Joe’s expense, and that doesn’t help things. Meanwhile gangsters who broke out of Leavenworth prison – the Cicero gang- have been robbing banks all the way from Kansas to the West. Their latest robbery has netted them 50 1000 dollar bills which they cannot pass. The smaller bills were being carried by a member of the gang shot down during the robbery. So here these desperate men are rich yet poor. Cicero says that this “hick country” is a great place to lay low, but in the meantime they have to eat. So all kinds of things start disappearing from the farms nearby – turkeys, liquor, fruit, vegetables, even silverware and sheets. The farmers gather in the country store and wonder who could be at the bottom of it. Joe thinks it is Jim Parker. After all, they know nothing about him and his farm is not doing well yet. This is bad enough, but soon Jim is implicated in a murder of one of the farmers. Smokey Joe calls the sheriff only to be told that the sheriff is out campaigning on his law and order ticket and cannot be bothered with actual law enforcement until after his campaigning. What follows is a deputy talking like a recording of a campaign call you might get today. Joe hangs up and tells the other men that they cannot look to law enforcement, that they must form a posse and bring in Jim themselves. How does this all turn out? Quite interestingly in a shootout between the gang with their automatic weapons and the men of the town – including Jim – with only their rifles and guns. Cicero also has one more trick up his sleeve – he has managed to kidnap Anne. The film is a precode and has a message that would not be allowed just two years later. In the middle of the Depression ordinary people had stopped counting on government to be of any help -signified by the sheriff – and they had best look to themselves for help. It also had an interesting message about diversity if you look close enough. Smokey was fighting Indians in the previous century, now one is a close friend. The Italian farmer looks at the Midwestern veteran Jim like a son, and enjoys giving him farming tips. Community is what you make of it. Oddly enough, this was only Bill Boyd’s second western. In the silent era he had been a romantic leading man, much like John Gilbert, and the coming of sound had not been kind to his career when it revealed his Okie accent. Chic Sale is actually only 47 here. Make-up and his lanky body made him believable as men twenty and thirty years older than his actual age. His own talent made him well received as the good hearted curmudgeon. He was actually only 11 years older than Boyd. Boyd was actually the guy with the REAL gray hair, gray since he was 24. This is certainly an unusual hybrid of a film – gangsters, cowboys, and farmers. But it is very action packed and well acted. I’d highly recommend it.
Duration: 58 min
Genre: Crime, Western, Drama
Also known as: Men of America,The Great Decision