Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein
Filmed in two weeks at Red Rock Canyon and Lone Pine, California, Hop-Along Cassidy was the opener of one of the best -- and most fondly remembered -- B-Western series of all time. Former silent screen star William Boyd regained his lost fame playing the prematurely gray, black-clad hero of pulp-writer Clarence E. Mulford's Bar 20 stories, with young Paramount contract player James Ellison as handsome sidekick Johnny Nelson and Charles Middleton (in a surprisingly low-key performance) as Cassidy's old friend, Buck Peters. Bill Cassidy arrives at the Bar-20 ranch in the middle of a range war with the neighboring Meeker spread. Old man Meeker (Robert Warwick) has been driving his cattle onto Bar-20 land for water against Buck's wishes. Cattle begin to disappear from both ranches and a couple of Meeker cowboys are shot. Meeker blames the Bar-20 crew but his daughter Mary (Paula Stone), who is in love with Johnny Nelson, believes in their innocence. Looking out for the headstrong Johnny, Cassidy is shot in the leg, thus acquiring his famous nickname of "Hop-Along." Bar-20 oldtimer Uncle Ben (George "Gabby" Hayes) discovers that cattle from both ranches have their brands altered and the two ranches band together to trap a vicious gang of rustlers lead by Meeker's unscrupulous foreman Pecos Jack Anthony (Kenneth Thomson). In the ensuing war, Uncle Ben is killed by Anthony but "Hop-Along" manages to catch the killer, whom he drives off a cliff to his death. With the Dance of the Furies from Gluck's Orfeo et Euridice underscoring the climactic ride, Hop-Along Cassidy proved a fast-paced, well-acted opener to the series. George "Gabby" Hayes, whose contribution to this success was vital, returned in the next entry, The Eagle's Brood (1935), as as a bartender, finally finding his true place in the "Hopalong Cassidy" oeuvre as Windy, Hopalong's grizzled old windbag of a sidekick, in the third film, Bar 20 Rides Again. Producer Sherman left Paramount in 1942 in favor of United Artists where the "Hopalong" series continued to flourish until 1948. Boyd then bought the rights to the films and re-edited them for television. The 1949-1951 Hopalong Cassidy series was so popular that Boyd filmed 52 new half-hour episodes for the 1952-1954 seasons. Hop-Along Cassidy, the initial "Hopalong" feature, is usually shown today under its re-release title, Hopalong Cassidy Enters.
cattle, cowboy, range-war, sidekick