I like John Wayne, but I struggled with Haunted Gold.
It was the first movie produced under a six-picture contract Wayne signed in 1932 to remake some Ken Maynard westerns. See my review of The Big Stampede for details. This one remakes The Phantom City.
Wayne plays a cowboy investigating an abandoned mine. It’s a dull, talky story involving half-shares in mines, frame-ups, betrayals, and a mysterious Phantom. One assumes Maynard’s version had more life.
Wayne’s performance is stiff and unsure, lacking even a glimpse of his signature laconic persona.
And then there’s Blue Washington as Wayne’s sidekick. It’s an unfunny and demeaning role that sees him run around wide-eyed, scared of every shadow and beholden to superstition. In once scene, Wayne refers to him as “boy,” and in another the villains note his “watermelon accent.” It makes an awful movie even worse.
Warner Bros. may have known they had a turkey on their hands. They shot and released two more Maynard remakes with Wayne, Ride Him, Cowboy and The Big Stampede, before releasing this stinker.