The 1933 programmer The Man from Monterey, one of the many low-budget westerns that the young, pre-stardom John Wayne made during his movie apprenticeship, plays on Turner Classic Movies on December 22. I wrote a brief essay for TCM.
Running under an hour, The Man from Monterey is a simple sagebrush melodrama set in 1848 California. Wayne plays Captain John Holmes, an American cavalry officer sent to coax the landowners to register their land (once part of old Mexico, now a part of the growing United States) with the new American government. Meanwhile, dastardly Don Pablo Gonzales (Francis Ford, John Ford’s older brother) is scheming to steal the Rancho Castanares, the biggest spread in the area, by convincing its owner, Don Jose Castanares (Lafe McKee), to defy the Americans as a matter of principle (and thus lose his title to the land). Just in case that scheme fails, he encourages his playboy caballero of a son (Donald Reed) to court Don Jose’s daughter, the lovely Senorita Dolores (Ruth Hall). “You know Felipe, there’s something mighty suspicious about all this,” drawls Captain John without a shred of irony to his adopted sidekick, a colorful fortune teller and barfly played with comic flair by character actor Luis Alberni (marvelous as the exasperated hotel manager Louis Louis in the 1937 Easy Living).
Read the complete feature on TCM here. Also available on DVD in a John Wayne B-western triple feature.