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The Telegraph Trail

USA 1933
produced by
Leon Schlesinger for Warner Brothers
directed by Tenny Wright
starring John Wayne, Frank McHugh, Marceline Day, Otis Harlan, Albert J. Smith, Yakima Canutt, Lafe McKee, Al Taylor, Jack Kirk, Chuck Baldra, Frank Ellis, Slim Whitaker, Jack Jones
written by Kurt Kempler, music by Leo F.Forbstein

4 Star Western

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A new telegraph line is built, to connect the American West to the East Coast - but it seems not everybody is happy about it, and Indian chieftain High Wolf (Yakima Canutt) and his braves constantly attack the wagon trains delivering supplies to the telegraph line construction workers. When one of their friends dies in such an attack, army man John Trent (John Wayne) and his sidekick Tippy (Frank McHugh) decide to investigate in the closest village to the construction workers' camp.

You see, the baddie of this piece is not actually the Indian chieftain, but "respectable" citizen Lynch (Albert J.Smith), who considers the telegraph back for his business (whatever that is). Lynch lusts after Alice (Marceline Day), daughter of local businessman Zeke (Otis Harlan), but she is so freaked out by his proposal that she claims she is engaged to John Trent, a man she actually doesn't know and has never seen and only just spotted in a photograph. As it happens, Trent and Tippy enter Zeke's store just then - and immediately they find themselves at odds with Lynch, not even knowing it's him they're after.

Alice eventually finds out Lynch and High wolf and his men are going to attack the next supply train, and she tries to warn Trent, but instead gets stuck in a box that goes onto the supply train. She still manages to warn Trent from inside the box, and the Indians can be fought off.

Later, the Indians attack the workers' camp, but Trent manage to break through their line, send a telegram to the army, then break back through the lines disguised as an Indian and help to defend the camp until the army arrives. When the army comes to the rescue, High Wolf is shot, and when Lynch, instead of helping his ally, tries to hightail it, High Wolf shoots him dead.

Everything ends happily of course, and of course in the end Trent gets the girl (for real).


One of the bunch of low budget Westerns pre-superstar John Wayne made for Warner Brothers in the early 1930's that were actually built around (action-)footage from silent Ken Maynard movies. This works to varying degrees of success: Scenes like the arrival of the army are captured in an impressive way and just work, sound or no sound, but there are other scenes from the old films seeing people actually acting, and acting in the silents looks totally different than in talkies. Still, all the silent scenes are no major roadblocks in the flow of this movie ...

As for the film as a whole: It's decently paced and keeps one entertained, but the plot is a bit too simplistic to really work and features a few too many silly plottwists to remain believable. Now I'm not saying this film is a disaster, it's just little more than your average B Western and absolutely nothing to get excited about.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD