The Lawless Nineties
Directed by Joseph Kane
Written by Scott Pembroke and Joseph F. Poland
Produced by Trem Carr
Cinematography by William Nobles
Distributed by Republic Pictures
John Wayne as John Tipton
Ann Rutherford as Janet Carter
Harry Woods as Charles K. Plummer
George 'Gabby' Hayes as Maj. Carter
Al Bridge as Steele
Fred Toones as Moses
Etta McDaniel as Mandy Lou Schaefer
Tom Brower as Marshal Bowen
Lane Chandler as Bridges
Cliff Lyons as Davis
Jack Rockwell as Smith
Al Taylor as Henchman Red
Charles King as Henchman Hartley
George Chesebro as Henchman Green
Tracy Lane as Belden
Greedy land barons are terrorizing the townsfolk to keep them from settling and voting on statehood in Wyoming in 1890. A few weeks before the elections, the Department of Justice assigns John Tipton, along with his partner, Bridges, to go to Crockett City and oversee that the elections are carried out in a fair and unbiased manner. As John and Bridges are travelling to Crockett City, they meet up with Major Carter and his lovely daughter Janet, who are headed from Virginia and hope to start a newspaper, and John escorts them the rest of the way into town safely. Once in town, Committee for Law and Order chairman Charles Plummer informs the group that the city’s last newspaper editor was shot by a band of outlaws.
Unbeknownst to John, the outlaws have tapped the telegraph wire and are aware that agents from the government are in town. It doesn’t take long for them to make their move and soon Bridges is murdered from a shot in the back. John has a hunch on how they get their information and sends a wire back to headquarters that he has identified the murderers and is about to apprehend them. Like clockwork he soon spots two suspicious looking men trying to sneak out of town and arrests them. Upon interrogation, the men confess, but the leader of the outlaws still remains at large.
As Major Carter is putting up posters urging the citizens to stand up to the outlaws and vote for statehood, he sees a fight start between two strangers and goes to help break it up. This proves to be his undoing, as the fight is really staged between two of the outlaws, and they use it as an opportunity to shoot Carter. John arrives to help Carter, and with his final words Carter asks John to look after Janet, who is steadfastly set on starting the paper, no matter what happens.
John forms a plan and sends another false message over the telegraph regarding a shipment of silver bullion, figuring the criminals can’t pass up such a juicy target. John’s hunch is again proven correct and the criminals show up on cue to rob the stagecoach, but John has set a trap and captures most of the band of outlaws. Steele, the gang’s second in command, escapes.
Later Steele is able to get the drop on John and captures him and takes him to the outlaws’ hideout, where John is able to hear that the leader of the outlaws is none other than Charlie Plummer, and they plan to barricade the polling places to ensure that no one can vote. John is able to escape, and rallies the townspeople to attack the gang’s hideout. Realizing that justice is closing in, Plummer shoots Steele in the back to claim all the stolen loot for his own, but before he can get away, John gets the jump on him and arrests him.
The next issue of the Crocket City Blade newspaper proclaims Wyoming a state and Janet and John embrace at the celebration.
The film was shot at the Trem Carr Ranch in Newhall, CA.
George ‘Gabby’ Hayes is instantly recognizable as Hopalong Cassidy’s curmudgeonly sidekick throughout most of the Hopalong series.
The original title of this film was to be “G-Men of the Nineties”; however ,Warner Bros. laid claim to the term “G-men” based on the title of a 1935 movie starring James Cagney, and threatened to sue any company that used it. Republic changed the name to avoid litigation.