RIM OF THE CANYON (1949)
Article 5127 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by John English
Featuring Gene Autry, Champion, Nan Leslie
What it is: Weird Western
When his stagecoach crashes in a race, Gene Autry becomes stranded in a ghost town in which he must deal with three escaped convicts looking for stolen money… and possibly a real ghost as well.
Most of the B-movie weird westerns I’ve encountered so far have been rather pallid affairs with extremely mild fantastic content and very low production values (which is not to say that there isn’t something inherently entertaining about the form). This one is relatively upscale. It has an interesting, offbeat story (which is complicated enough to include two lengthy flashbacks), a sense of genuine emotional warmth, well-choreographed action sequences, and interesting characters. The fantastic content concerning the ghost is actually a prominent plot element that adds a real air of mystery to the proceedings, and though it is eventually debunked, a passing comment near the end of the movie hints that maybe it hasn’t been debunked after all. Yes, Gene Autry’s horse gets second billing, but he merits it; the horse manages to function as an authentic character in the proceedings, and his fate means as much to us as that of the human characters. All in all, I can say this was one of the most enjoyable weird westerns that I’ve seen for this series so far.