Classic Film Guide

Rio Grande Patrol (1950)

Directed by Lesley Selander, and written by Norman Houston, this B movie Tim Holt Western features his regular sidekick (whose head is always turned by a pretty lady) Chito Jose Gonzalez Bustamante Rafferty, played by Richard Martin. The story is more involved and less formulaic than many of their nearly two dozen films which constitute a loosely connected series directed by Selander: the Holt character's name changes, but all have similar plots which include a female character (usually to catch Holt's eye, though sometimes there's one for each of them) that sings, the requisite bad guys, and a one hour running time.

Holt's character is named Kansas; he and Chito are border patrol agents along the Rio Grande that have a run-in with Bragg Orcutt (Douglas Fowley), a villain with a telltale scar on his face, but he escapes. Later, they team with Mexico's Captain Alberto Trevino (Rick Vallin) to try to prevent gun smuggling. Trevino believes that saloon owner Fowler (John Holland) is the culprit and that his method for smuggling the guns involves some theater crates coming in on the next train. Since Bragg wants to buy these modern machine guns for himself, he helps Fowler by shooting Trevino, while the train is being unloaded, and leading Kansas & Chito away from the station. Initially thought to be dead, Trevino is discovered by the station master (Harry Harvey) to merely be injured; he's then tended to by Dr. A.M. Reynolds (Larry Johns).

Jane Nigh plays singer Sherry Bliss who works for Fowler, ignorant of his smuggling activities, and is engaged to Trevino. Cleo Moore plays another blonde, chorus girl Peppie (from Boston?), with whom Chito is instantly smitten. When Fowler is unable to move the hidden cache of weapons out of his saloon to complete the sale to Bragg, the gunman sends his chief henchman Chet Yance (Tom Tyler) to kill the two law officers while they're watching the saloon's "Girls, Girls, Girls" show. Naturally, he botches this and is injured in the process. But when Kansas follows Fowler out of town, he is captured by the villains during their key exchange, and held by Yance while his peers try to move the machine guns. His friend in trouble, Trevino ignores his injuries to help Chito rescue Kansas and the duo somehow manage to get back to town in time to slow down Bragg and his men via a shootout until Trevino and his troops (ala the cavalry) can save the day. Trevino marries Sherry and when Peppie catches the bouquet, Chito runs for his life. As always, Holt's character promises to return to town some time in the future.

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