Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein
Nothing of cult director Joseph H. Lewis' much-vaunted flair is on display in this average musical Western, the screen debut of Bob Baker, Universal's dark-haired answer to Gene Autry. Baker -- who had beaten a young Roy Rogers for the berth at Universal -- had sung on the National Barn Dance radio program but his vocal prowess quickly proved as untrained as his thespian abilities. Set during the Civil War, Courage of the West opens with President Lincoln (Albert Russell) establishing the Free Ranger corps in order to prevent the constant attacks on gold shipments from the West. After this potentially interesting opening, the Western settles down to tell the rather ordinary story of a ranger (J. Farrell McDonald) adopting the young son (Buddy Cox) of a convicted outlaw (Harry Woods). Years later, the boy has become the head of the rangers and is soon chasing down a gang of gold thieves headed -- unbeknownst to him -- by his own father. In between battling his natural father, Baker sang "Resting Beside the Campfire," "Ride Along Free Rangers," "Song of the Trail," and "I'll Build a Ranch House on the Range," all by Fleming Allen. Although competent enough astride his handsome paint horse, Apache, Baker's vocalizing never gave Gene Autry or Roy Rogers much to worry about and his starring career proved brief. By 1939, he was playing second leads to Johnny Mack Brown and by 1940 bit parts.
bad-guy, cowboy, father, good-guy, outlaw [Western], ranger [military], son