The Lonely Trail
Romance / Drama / War / Western
Directed by Joseph Kane
Written by Bernard McConville, Jack Natteford
Produced by Nat Levine
Cinematography by William Nobles
Distributed by Republic Pictures
John Wayne as John Ashley
Ann Rutherford as Virginia
Cy Kendall as Benedict Holden
Bob Kortman as Hays
Snowflake as Snowflake
Sam Flint as Governor
Denny Meadows as Dick Terry
Jim Tony as Jed
Etta McDaniels as Mammy
Yakima Canutt as Horrell
Lloyd Ingraham as Tucker
Carpetbagger Benedict Holden has moved to a small Texas town and taken over as Adjutant General, and increases the taxes dramatically. He terrorizes those that cannot pay, extorts money for his own pocket, which he uses to bribe black leaders to get the black vote. Armed rebels start to revolt against Holden’s rule, and as a result he declares martial law, ordering all civilians to give up their weapons.
Into this grim scene steps Union Captain John Ashley. Upon his returns he speaks with Holden, and learns that John’s best friend, Dick Terry, is now the leader of the rebels. He goes to Terry’s tavern to investigate further and meets with his former fiancée, Virginia Terry, who calls John a traitor. John witnesses Holden’s men shoot unarmed rebels in the back, and decides that, although he is caught between his duty to the Union soldiers, now turned oppressors, and his desire to help the people, he will try to work with Holden’s men, but merely to warn the townspeople and try to prevent more loss of life. John recruits his friend Jeb to do the same. Jeb does some poking around on his own and discovers proof of Holden’s embezzlement. Meanwhile, the Union commander, Captain Hayes, suspects John’s loyalty and orders him to arrest Dick. John catches up with Dick just as Dick is stealing ammunition from the Union troops. Union soldiers discover him as well and are about to open fire and kill him when John fires on them, allowing Dick to escape.
To make the Union soldiers believe that Dick was wounded and died, they stage a mock funeral. Meanwhile John and Jeb are captured by Union soldiers and held to be court-martialed and hung as traitors.
While the rebels plan a raid to free John and Jeb, the governor of Texas arrives to investigate Holden’s activities. Holden is almost exonerated, until John and Jeb are able to provide their evidence to the Governor. In a climactic final battle, Holden and Hayes are accidentally shot by their own troops, who believe that they are John and Jeb. The Governor agrees to disband the troops and return the town to normal law based on the information John and Jeb provided.
Yakima Canutt is a famous stuntman who gets to act in this feature instead of just being John Wayne’s stunt double. Canutt made quite an amazing career out of stunt work, doubling for John Wayne, Clark Gable and others. His movies include Gone with the Wind, Spartacus and Rio Bravo.