King of the Pecos
Directed by Joseph Kane
aka "West of God’s Country"
John Wayne as John Clayborn, also known as John Clay
Muriel Evans as Belle Jackson
Cy Kendall as Alexander Stiles
Jack Clifford as Ash
Arthur Aylsworth as Hank Matthews
Herbert Heywood as Josh Billings
Frank Glendon as Brewster
Edward Hearn as Eli Jackson
John Beck as Clayborn, Sr.
Mary MacLaren as Mrs. Clayborn
Bradley Metcalfe as Little John
After witnessing his parents being gunned down and the family farm of Sweetwater stolen by the goons of greedy land baron, Alexander Styles, a young John Clayborn escapes the massacre and vows revenge. Spending the next 10 years honing his skills in not only riding and shooting, but also attending law school in Austin, John Clayborn, now calling himself John Clay, returns to the town of Cottonwood make good on his vows. He studies the paperwork involved with Styles’ dealings and discovers that he actually hasn’t legally purchased all of the land he’s bullied people off of, but instead owns questionable ‘options’ on the land. John files a summons for Styles, but the local circuit judge is too frightened for his life to serve it to the villain. John gathers up the local farmers and ranchers who have been swindled by Styles and soon has a posse to protect the judge for the ride out to Styles’ ranch. The Judge upholds John’s assertion of questionable ownership by Styles, and orders most of his land turned over to the public domain for an inquiry. A furious Styles first attempts to slander John, telling ranchers and his daughter Belle that John is just trying to swindle the ranchers and get the land for himself. Knowing that the ranchers and settlers will have to travel through a narrow canyon to go to town to file their claims to get their land back, he has his goons set up an ambush with orders to shoot anyone not wearing a white armband. John finds out about the murderous plot and tells the ranchers to wear white armbands, foiling Styles ‘plans once again. Now that the ranchers have filed their claims, it’s time to drive their cattle to the railway station for sale. Styles has his henchmen steal whatever cattle he can, then retreats to the house at Sweetwater, John’s old family ranch. Styles knows that Sweetwater has the only water around for quite a ways, and plans to extort money from the ranchers when they arrive. However, once John and the ranchers arrive, John Clay reveals himself as John Clayborn, and claims that Sweetwater is rightfully his. Seeing he is outnumbered and outgunned, Styles tries to escape, but the wagon he is riding in, with the safe of all his ill-gotten gains, is too heavy and flips, and the heavy safe crushes Styles to death. John follows Styles’ main henchman Ash into the rocky hills, and gives Ash the opportunity to draw first before gunning him down. His quest for revenge ended, John looks forward to a life with Belle and starting his law career.
Notes: Between 1933 and 1935 John Wayne made 16 westerns for Monogram Pictures under their western division, Lone Star Productions. In 1935 Monogram joined Mascot, Consolidated Film, and a few other studios to form Republic Pictures. Under Republic, Wayne got slightly more attention, getting bigger budgets and better scripts. Although still being considered a 'B' Western, King of the Pecos represents one of these efforts.
Muriel Evans worked as an actress for many years, starting in silent films, eventually working up to roles opposite Clark Gable in "Manhattan Melodrama", and starring in "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" by Frank Capra. By the mid 1930’s she became a staple of B-Westerns, appearing with John Wayne and in several Hopalong Cassidy films with William Boyd.