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Knight of the Plains (1938, B&W): Villainous Clem Peterson persuades rustler Dan Carson to impersonate Pedro de Cordova, owner of Paradise Valley. Filing false lawsuits, they are driving the ranchers off their land including long-time resident cattleman J. C. Rand. Honest cowpoke "Melody" Brent suspects that Cordova is a phony and attempts to warn Rand's daughter Gale that her father is being scammed. But his warning falls on deaf ears and a range war seems unavoidable when the Rand's decide to fight rather than be dispossessed. In 1937, famed screen comedian Stan Laurel produced a series of modestly-budgeted Westerns. Over the next year, he financed a half dozen films starring Fred Scott, a classically trained opera singer who became one of the screen's most improbable singing cowboys in the wake of Gene Autry's success. Teamed with silent-era comedian Al St. John, Scott proved to be an effective sagebrush stalwart, and Knight of the Plains is one of his most entertaining outings. Starring Fred Scott, Al St. John, Marion Weldon, Dick Cramer; Directed by Sam Newfield. Songs and Bullets (1938, B&W): Melody" Smith arrives in Dry Gulch to search for the killer of his uncle, but is arrested on a trumped-up rustling charge. Released for lack of evidence, he befriends pretty schoolmarm Jeanette, who is hunting for the murderer of her father. It becomes apparent that their kinfolk were probably shot down by the very same gunmen, and they join forces to hunt him down. Another Stan Laurel production, Songs and Bullets is distinguished by the presence of Alice Ardell in an unconventional female lead role. Later identified as Stan's mistress, she almost always played maids and was given little or no dialogue; this Fred Scott western provided La Ardell the meatiest role of her relatively brief screen career. The necessity of working her into the film convincingly was a creative stimulus to writers George Plympton and Joseph O'Donnell, who penned an unusual script that makes this Fred Scott feature one of his most memorable pictures. Starring Fred Scott, Al. St. John, Alice Ardell, Charles King; Directed by Sam Newfield.

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ALP6654 Knight of the Plains / Songs and Bullets DVD (1938/Fred Scott) $5.99