The Trail Beyond (1934)
“THE SPELL OF ADVENTURE AND THE UNKNOWN!”
Director: Robert Bradbury
Cast: John Wayne, Noah Beery, Verna Hillie
Synopsis: Rod Drew hunts for a missing girl and finds himself in a fight over a goldmine as well.
Another one of the seemingly endless number of western programmers that the young actor John Wayne made for Lone Star — the studio that dreamed of a place on Poverty Row — The Trail Beyond isn’t half bad; there’s some surprisingly good cinematography and some picturesque locations (although Canada they are not), and even a fairly interesting plot.
Wayne plays Rod Drew, who goes off to Canada in search of the long-lost niece of his dad’s old buddy (Noah Beery Sr.). Along the way he runs into an old half-breed college friend named Wabi (Noah Beery Jr.) and they both end up on the run after a man is shot over a crooked game of cards. The duo stumble upon a cabin in which they find a couple of severely under-nourished residents and a map that leads to a gold mine…
The Trail Beyond at least appears to be trying to bring something new — or at least different for Lone Star — to the screen. The storyline is packed with incidents and there are enough stunts to have kept stuntman extraordinaire Yakima Canutt in bruises for weeks. There’s even a canoe chase, and the bad guys are French for a change. They say ‘oui’ and ‘bon’ a lot, but settle for talking lek zis in tres phoney aczents fer most ov ze time. Ze acteeng — I mean the acting — is typically atrocious for an early John Wayne western, but that all seems to add to the fun somehow. These little pictures weren’t trying to impress anyone other than excitable kids (of any age) who like to cheer the hero and hiss at the villains and, at that at least, they often succeeded admirably.
(Reviewed 5th September 2005)