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Big Calibre

USA 1935
produced by
A.W. Hackel, Sam Katzman (supervising) for A.W. Hackel Productions/Supreme
directed by Robert N. Bradbury
starring Bob Steele, Peggy Campbell, John Elliott, Forrest Taylor, Perry Murdock, Frank Ball, Frank Brownlee, Georgia O'Dell, Earl Dwire, Bill Quinn
written by Perry Murdock

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Bob (Bob Steele) finds his father killed by an exploded tube containing poisoned gas, but when he brings a second - unexploded - tube of the gas to Zenz (Perry Murdock) the local chemist & assayer, he has to realize that Zenz himself killed his father, but when Bob & the sheriff want to arrest him, Zenz makes a successful escape using another o9f his tubes. From now on, Bob - & his trusted foreman Rusty (John Elliott) decide to dedicate all their time to hunt down Zenz ...

One year later, Bob & Rusty, after having found a pocketful of Uranium (!) & Bob decides to bring it to the local chemist & assayer (always in hope of finding Zenz).

Meanwhile June Bowers (Peggy Campbell) & her father (Frank Ball) are doing everything to keep their ranch from falling into the hands of the unscupulous local chemist Gadsky & his partner (in crime), bankowner  Bentley (Forrest Taylor). But when the old man rides into town to pay back the mortgage to Gadski through the desert, he is ambushed, shot, robbed & left for dead. Handing over the Bowers' ranch seems final then, but june, never one to give up, decides to hold up the stagecoach that takes the legal documents to the next lawyer ... unfortunately though she is shot at when she does so, & Bob finds her, unconscious, lieing besides the robbed stage. While he gets some water though to bring ehr back to consciousness, she makes an escape, & he, for all his efforts, is arrested as the one who has held up the stage - & when a watch that belongs to Bowers - which Bob has found earlier on with some bones - he is accused of having murdered Bowers, too. June, curious of who has jkilled her father, visits Bob in prison, but he convinces her of his innocence - especially after telling her that he knows that it was actually her who robbed the stage. June decidees not only to side with Bob but to help him escape from prison, so that he can bring her to her father's bones ... or what the think are her father's bones, as they turn out to be animal bones.

Bentley & Gadxsky decide the air has gotten too thick in town & decide to rob Bentley's gang & make a getaway, but when robbing the bank Bentley decides that he'd be much better of without Gadski & knocks him out. Then he gets to June's ranch - as he her secret admirer has decided to take her with him, but Bob arrives just in time to take her with him. Gadski meanwhile took the sheriff (Earl Dwire) & went after Bob, who he thinks knocked him out at the bank, to have him arrested for the robbery, but the plan backfires when old man Bowers, not dead at all but having been nursed back to health in the local Indian reservation, accuses Gadski & Bentley of having made an attempt on his life, & Gadski's true identity is discovered: he is in fact murderer Zenz, but in heavy disguise. He succeeds again in getting away - in a car - but this time Bob is not so easy to be shaken off as he follows him on horseback, & with a daring leap manages to get into the car himself where he & Zenz duke it out while the car is going high speed - until it finally comes to a stop hanging dangerously over a cliff, with Bob is hanging onto its front. Zenz - his feet firmly on the ground - decides to finish Bob off with one of his tubes of poisoned gas, but Bob manages to shoot it ourt of his hand, exploding it right into his face ...

 

Of all the B-western directors in the 30's, Robert N.Bradbury was generally considered the most versatile & imaginative, as his films did often contain elements from outside the genre conventions, which were integrated though as if they belonged there.

Same goes for this movie that uses many trappings familiar from pulpy crime thrillers - like the tubes of poisoned gas, villains disguising themselves to lead respectful lives - within the framework of the Western. That, Bradbury's fpictorial sense to make the best use of sets & landscapes, & Bob Steele (acutally Bradbury's son) as a better than usual Western hero make htis an enjoyable movie.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
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produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD