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Shadows of Death 1945
Description: With the railroad coming to Red Rock, problem is expected and Billy has been sent to support his mate Fuzzy who is the town's sheriff, judge, and barber. When the boy that sent Billy is murdered and the railroad zone map stolen, broken match sticks mission to Vic Landreau. While Billy tries to search the missing map, Landreau suspects Billy is on to him and plans to have him killed.
Released: 19 Apr 1945 Director: Sam Newfield Writers: Fred Myton (screenplay), Fred Myton (story) Actors: Buster Crabbe, Al St. John, Dona Dax, Charles King Genres: Western
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Shadows of Death Reviews:

It is unfortunate the previous reviewer was surprised that Larry "Buster" Crabbe made westerns. Crabbe portrayed a tons of roles during his long career ranging from Tarzan (Tarzan the Fearless serial) to Flash Gordon (serials), from cowboy Billy Carson to a French Foreign Legionaire ("Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion" TV series).In 1940, Bob Steele was starring as PRC's 'Billy the Kid' (who, in these films, was a nice guy wrongfully blamed for different misdeeds). But Steele received a better offer from Republic Pictures, where he would become one of the Three Mesquiteers.To fill Steele's slot, PRC hired Buster Crabbe, and from 1941-1946, he would appear in three dozen western programmers, including the movie reviewed here. The initial entries had Crabbe continuing the 'Billy the Kid' role, but his screen name was soon changed to 'Billy Carson' (supposedly because of the negative connotation associated with 'Billy the Kid').Crabbe's sidekick in all these range epics was Al 'Fuzzy' St. John, who had become entrenched as a cowboy saddle pal.As with most westerns of the period, Crabbe's movies were primarily shown at matinées in neighborhood theaters across the country with the biggest part of the audience made up of children. This is why almost all the major cowboys had comic sidekicks. Hero and plot development was largely absent. It was a non-discriminating audience that wanted action, a laugh or two, and for the nice guy to beat the terrible guy. The "B" western filled the bill.


Billy Carson is sent to Red Rock to create sure that land grabbers don't affect the railroad coming through the town. Landreau, who has just set up a gambling hall, is only in the city to receive the main land rights that the railroad would pay top dollar for. Landreau sees Billy as his largest obstacle, but sees a software in Kincaid, who thinks Billy is interfering in his romance with ranch owner Babs Darcy. Billy and Fuzzy (the town's marshal, justice of the peace, and barber) go out to prove that Landreau and his gang killed the railroad agent and test to create sure that Kincaid doesn't receive shot in the process. The movie is the most primary of the railroad rights land grab plots and there is nothing unique about this film, in fact the movie is a bit slow at times especially when the scenes involve the Kincaid hero and dilemma. Fuzzy saves the movie as usual with his comic scenes at the barber shop. Watch it if you must, but you won't be punching your eyes out at the end. Rating, based on B westerns, 4.


This is a classic Saturday Matinee western with all the trappings of the era. Heroic cowboy, funny side-kick, henchmen, cute woman and fist-a-cuffs galore- a typical nice time in the local theater on Saturday afternoon. The movie was produced by PRC Pictures a popular 'skid-row' company that produced over 300 movies in its short lifetime. And in this idea it made about sixteen movies with Buster Crabbe and Al Fuzzy St John keeping the west safe- all over a three year period. That is some rushed production schedule. There's really not much to this storyline that has not already been played out in many westerns. Crabbe, testing the white hat cowboy Billy Carson, is hired by a boy to inspect the land where a fresh railroad would be built. But before Carson can receive to the area, some thugs have killed the boy and is actually trying to purchase up all the property before the railroad. Carson has to receive evidence that the thugs are the one that killed the boy and place a stop to their property take-over.There is nothing really remarkable about the movie as it played out as expected. Crabbe, who had already played cowboy star in the Billy-the-Kid serials, seemed a bit rough in this production. His acting was quite stiff and rehearsed in nearly each scene. But Crabbe, as always, was perfect in the war scenes. Fuzzy St.John was his usual self by being the comic relief to each case [laying it up for all its worth. And even if you did not like the storyline you have to accept that St.John was doing his greatest in a method that only he can perform. Even with the less than desirable story-line, the movie fulfilled its desired responsibility. It was cheaply made, provided some entertainment and ended with desired results. And yes, Crabbe's white hat never hit the ground in the ending war scene. For a 'B' western that about all you can ask



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