Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday matinee: Border Feud (1947)

Lash LaRue          Marshal Cheyenne Davis
Al St. John           Sheriff Fuzzy Q. Jones
Ian Keith              Doc Peters
Bob Duncan         Jack Barton

Story                    Joseph O’Donnell
Screenplay           Patricia Harper
Director               Ray Taylor

Get your popcorn and go to the rest room now before the show starts, so you don’t miss an exciting minute of this one.

Opening montage. There’s exciting music, and we quickly find out that there’s a fierce feud going on between the Condons and the Harts over the Blue Girl Gold Mine. Newspaper headlines flash by, and there’s constant gunfire. Bang-bang-bang.

Men on horseback chase a wagon until it goes over a cliff into the water. A man is shot from a horse and rolls down a steep embankment. In a night-time scene, men behind rocks are shooting at another horse-drawn wagon. We see it roll into town, the driver hunched over, hit. One man falls from the speeding wagon and the wagon goes over a cliff and crashes in a cloud of dust. Crash!

First scenes. A sign tells us that we’re at the Mesa City sheriff’s office. It’s a closeup of the sheriff facing a concerned Cheyenne, who sits across from him, “You walked right into the trap I baited for you, Cheyenne.”

Cheyenne says, “It’s not the first trap I’ve sprung or I escaped from, Sheriff.”

The Sheriff says, “You’ve reached the end of your rope.”

Turns out they’re playing checkers, and the Sheriff wins the game. Ha-ha.

A bright lamp is glowing over the table and there is a pair of longhorns mounted on the wall behind them. Two men have been watching the game. Cheyenne is wearing his black shirt. He looks confident, barely smiles. He’s been winning every match until now.

There’s a letter just arrived on the stage from Sheriff Fuzzy Jones in Red Gulch, Nevada. Fuzzy says the Condons and the Harts are feuding and he’s asking for help. When the Sheriff hears Fuzzy is in Red Gulch, he says he’s just picked up a killer by the name of “Tiger” who was on his way there to make trouble. He was carrying a letter introducing him to a Jack Barton.

Cheyenne gets up to leave for Red Gulch. He’s dressed completely in black, with a black hat. He has two pistols in his silver-studded holsters and gun belt.

Meanwhile in Red Gulch. Fuzzy is putting up a sign in the saloon requiring every man who walks in to surrender his gun. Bob Hart enters, goes over to Jim Condon at the bar, and the two men are quickly in a fist fight. Fuzzy gets knocked off his feet and takes a big prat fall. Ha-ha.

Outside a horseman arrives in town, and it turns out to be Cheyenne. He’s carrying his whip, and when he enters the saloon, he spies a man at a table with his gun drawn. Cheyenne knocks it from his hand with a snap of his whip, and the gun fires, which stops the fight.

Condon says he wants the Harts to sell him the shares of the mine, but Hart refuses. His arm has been injured in the fight, and he leaves to go have it looked at by Doc Peters.

Saloon owner Jack Barton has been watching all this, and when Cheyenne asks to talk to him, they go into a back office. When Fuzzy tries to go in, too, Barton has a goon with several days’ growth of beard standing at the door, and he shoves Fuzzy back into a chair. Fuzzy spits in frustration. Ha-ha.

Inside the office, Cheyenne leads Barton to believe that he’s the man “Tiger” Barton has been waiting for. Barton then reveals his plan. He wants “Tiger” to keep the Condons and the Harts at each other’s throats until they wipe each other out. Then Barton is going to take the Blue Girl gold mine for himself. Meanwhile, Cheyenne can cover his identity by going around town and pretending to be a marshal.

At Doc Peters’ office, Cheyenne finds the doctor with Hart and his girlfriend Carol, who is the sister of the Condons. When they leave, the Doc wonders why the Condons and Harts can’t bring themselves to settle out of court.  He seems like a reasonable man.

Springing into action. Now Cheyenne and Fuzzy get to work. They saddle up and head out of town. Cheyenne rides for the Hart ranch, passing a “No Trespassing” sign, with all the S’s reversed. Then he gets stopped by a man with a shotgun who says he needs a warrant if he wants to get onto the ranch.

Cheyenne doesn’t have time for this and whips the man’s shotgun from his hands and leaps from his horse directly onto him. They grapple on the ground, and the man gets a couple punches for his trouble. The Harts aren’t at the ranch anyway, he says. They’re on the way to the Condons. Cheyenne jumps back on his horse and races off for the Condons.

Fuzzy is already at the Condons, where Bob Hart and three of his men are behind boulders firing their pistols at two of the Condons, who’ve taken shelter in a barn. Carol is with them and steps from inside to get a better look. Jim Condon pushes her back out of the line of fire.

Fuzzy hoists himself up onto a boulder, but his pistol falls from his holster and fires when it hits the ground below. He slides back down to safety. Ha.-ha.

Cheyenne arrives, with Fuzzy beside him, and they put a stop to the exchange of gunfire. Three of the Hart men leave, and Cheyenne persuades Bob to stay behind. Cheyenne says he’ll start making arrests if they don’t stop the feud. Bob says he’ll happily rot in jail first. Carol pleads with her brother to see reason, but he’s just as stubborn. So Cheyenne takes both men to town to throw them in jail.

Back in town. It’s late afternoon, as we can see by the shadows stretching across the main street. Barton’s goon sees Cheyenne bringing in the two men. When Barton wants to know what’s going on, Cheyenne tells him that he’s going to arrange a phony jail break in which both men get killed. That will get them out of the way.

Suddenly there’s trouble for Cheyenne.  Another of Barton’s men walks in, pulls a gun on Cheyenne and says he’s not the “Tiger.” And they take him out to the bar, where they tell everyone Cheyenne is in fact a killer, and there’s a big scuffle as they all make an attempt to subdue him and lynch him.

Fuzzy has walked in and is being kicked around in the melee. He bumps butt-first against the hot stove and gets an idea. He empties his revolver and throws the bullets into the stove, where they begin to explode, and everyone jumps for cover. Cheyenne and Fuzzy then run for the door and jump on their horses.

With the excitement over in the saloon, Barton takes charge. He names one of his goons as interim sheriff and sends him down to the jail to set free the two prisoners, so they can continue their feud.

Cheyenne and Fuzzy ride off to Fuzzy’s hunting cabin, where Fuzzy tries out Cheyenne’s whip. He tries tossing it around only to get himself wrapped up in it and falls down. Finally, he snags it in a wood pile behind him and giving it a good pull hits himself in the back of the head with a stick of wood. Ha-ha.

Damsel in distress. Meanwhile, Carol is out riding alone on her horse but is apprehended by two men on horseback, while one of Barton’s goons watches.

Cheyenne tells Fuzzy to make himself useful and go to the Condon ranch to check on Carol.  When Fuzzy gets there, he sneaks up to the barn to spy on Condon, who is tightening up the cinch on his horse’s saddle. A rock with a note attached falls beside Condon and he stoops to pick it up and read it. Tossing the note aside, he jumps on his horse and races off.

Fuzzy looks at the note and then hurries back with it to Cheyenne. It’s a ransom note that says Carol will be set free as soon as Condon turns over his share of the gold mine. So they get on their horses and race to reach Condon before he gets to the Hart ranch. Soon as they find him and stop him, Cheyenne says the note came from Barton, not the Harts. And he has an idea where his sister is . . .

Back in town again. A wagon arrives pulled fast by two horses. It stops at the doctor’s office. Two of Barton’s goons watch as a figure is taken from the back of the wagon. It looks like Carol. One of the two men jumps on his horse and races out of town.

Inside the doc’s office, we discover that it’s Fuzzy wrapped up to look like Carol. Meanwhile, Cheyenne races off on his horse in hot pursuit of Barton’s man. He is led to another cabin, where he soon has three men standing on the front porch with their hands up.

He then shows up at the Condon barn with the three men and Carol. But soon there is a barrage of gunfire from the rocks and bushes outside, and Cheyenne surmises that it’s Barton’s men who have come gunning for him. He and Fuzzy go outside to slip behind them, finally opening fire, dropping one of them, while three run off.

If they were Barton’s men come to gun him down, Cheyenne says, who knew to look for him there?

Last exciting scenes. Back at the doctor’s office, Doc Peters gets a patient. It’s Cheyenne complaining about an old leg wound. The Doc gets him to lie down and gives him a couple pills for the pain. Cheyenne gets to feeling drowsy right away, and when he seems to have lost consciousness, the Doc pulls on his coat and leaves the office. As soon as he’s gone, Cheyenne gets up and checks the label on the pill bottle. Surprise! He finds a skull and cross bones and the word “POISON.”

Back at Barton’s office, the Doc walks in and pulls a gun on Barton. There’s gold in the safe, and he’s not going to leave without it. Then Cheyenne comes in with gun drawn and tells them both to sit down and wait for the sheriff.

Outside, a whole bunch of riders comes into town and there’s a big gun battle between them and Barton’s men. Bang-bang-bang. One or two of Barton’s men go down.

Inside Barton’s office, one of his goons enters and takes Cheyenne by surprise. While the two of them fight, Barton and the Doc get the gold from the safe, grab guns, and make their exit. Cheyenne is pummeling Barton’s man, and when he’s got him good and down, he makes a run for the door.

Outside, Barton and the Doc jump into a wagon and race out of town, while the gun battle continues. Bang-bang-bang. A man runs up a flight of stairs along the wall of a building. He takes a shot at Fuzzy, who fires back, and the man falls from the top of the steps down to the ground.

Still the gun battle rages on. Another man goes down. Then Condon shoots one of Barton’s goons, the guy with the growth of beard. Back together now, Cheyenne and Fuzzy are on their horses and racing after Barton and the Doc, their guns blasting. Bang-bang-bang.

The chase goes on, mile after mile, Cheyenne and Fuzzy gradually closing in. The horses are all going as fast as they’ll go. Barton gets hit and falls back into the bed of the wagon. Cheyenne and Fuzzy finally pull up beside the wagon and Cheyenne jumps in behind the Doc.

“All right, Doc. This is it,” Cheyenne says.

And Fuzzy says, “And we do mean it.”


Last scene. The sheriff’s office. Carol Condon and Bob Hart are standing together, sweethearts reunited. Jim Condon stands to one side. Looks like the feud is over and there’ll be a wedding soon.

Suddenly there’s the sound of gunfire from outside. Bang-bang-bang. But it’s not more trouble. It’s just cowboys celebrating and giving Cheyenne a big send-off.

All say goodbye as Cheyenne leaves. Fuzzy takes one last prat fall. Everyone laughs. Ha-ha. Cheyenne get on his handsome black horse, waves so long, and rides off.

Music rises.


James Reasoner once called Lash LaRue the Humphrey Bogart of B-westerns. Here are his thoughts on Border Feud.

Picture credits:
1) Movie poster -
2) Lash, portrait photo – 
3) Fuzzy Q. Jones -
4) Lash on his horse –
5) Lash and Fuzzy -
6) Lash with whip and autograph,
7) Lash portrait photo, hat back
8) Lash, horse rearing -

Coming up: Review of Bar-20 by Clarence E. Mulford


  1. Lol!!!!!!!!!Lol!!!!!!!!!!I remember this! Saturday mornings in the local cimema, all the local kids, pay a shilling to get in (not a small amount in those days!)We would watch cowboys and indians, Batman, Superman, etc!!
    Brill!!!!!!!!!!You have just made my day Ron! I couldnt stop laughing then and I cant now!!

  2. I use to work at a video store (Pre-Blockbuster) and my boss bought tons of Lash LaRue films that no one watched but him and me. Lots of fun.

  3. Never saw a Lash movie I fear. Gunsmoke, Bonanza, High Chaparalle, Big Valley. These were my westerns. With a little bit of Rawhide, Wanted Dead Or Alive, and Have Gun, Will Travel