GHOST GUNS (1944)
Article 4765 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Featuring Johnny Mack Brown, Raymond Hatton, Evelyn Finley
What it is: Weird Western
A U.S. Marshall investigates a series of murders and cattle rustlings in a small western town. He discovers a gang that, with the help of a phony judge, plans to steal the land in the surrounding area.
With a B western, I don’t expect a lot; if it’s efficiently directed and has a fair amount of action, it’s probably done all that it’s set out to do. Furthermore, if it’s a so-called “weird western”, I really don’t expect a lot from the fantastic content; too much of that is likely to throw the western elements off balance. This one is efficient enough; Johnny Mack Brown is likable, Raymond Hatton is amusing enough as his sidekick, and there’s enough action to fill its hour running time. The fantastic content is pretty slight, as well; in this case, a man who is believed dead poses as a ghost to scare a confession out of one of the bad guys. You also get a song (“Red River Valley”), some trick horse riding, and a demonstration of Johnny Mack Brown’s gun-twirling technique. So this one passes the test; it’s certainly no classic, but it’s a pleasant enough way to kill an hour.