John Wayne was taking care of business in the American West throughout the 1930s, as evidenced by this 53-minute film from 1934. Star Packer seems like a really weird title, but the movie itself is a quite enjoyable show, albeit one of standard Western fare. The Duke plays Travers, a fellow sent out by the federal government to try and bring a little law and order to a town being terrorized by the minions of a mysterious villain called "The Shadow." Sheriffs in this town have a habit of being shot dead right out on main street in full daylight; the local ranchers are explaining this to brand new sheriff number 3 when he finds this out for himself. Wayne rides in to town alongside his Indian sidekick Yak (Yakima Canutt), having foiled the latest stagecoach robbery and saved a little lady in the process. He assumes the role of sheriff and works to ferret out The Shadow and his posse of outlaws. There's very little mystery as to the identity of the man in question, but there's plenty of horse racing, shoot 'em up action, and fisticuffs to make this a most satisfying early Western film. Throw in Gabby Hayes, and you've got a real showcase of the Duke at his early best.
George Hayes didn't always look like "Gabby" in the early Lone Star Pictures productions from the early 1930s, but he certainly does here in Blue Steel in the role of the mustachioed, chawin' and spittin' sheriff Jake. He is hot on the trail of the Polka Dot Bandit, whose thieving ways are becoming legendary in the area. He thinks he knows who the bad guy is, having seen John Carruthers (John Wayne) messing around behind a recently emptied safe. The two men unexpectedly become partners of a sort, though, when a young lady rides up with a gang of outlaws on her tail. Both men quickly become involved with the travails of the local town, the population of which is without ammunition and almost out of food because of these same outlaws pouncing on every stagecoach that tries to approach with the necessary provisions. One of the town's most upright citizens takes the girl in and generously offers a decent sum of money to those townspeople who choose to leave rather than hang around to starve to death. There's gold in them there ranches, just underneath the topsoil, and a man who owned all of the land could do quite well for himself. Gabby Hayes and John Wayne are a dynamic duo, and the "surprises" each man holds back from the other one until the end make for some very interesting and somewhat humorous moments. Blue Steel may be your standard early western from 1934, but it is a most enjoyable movie to watch.