Randy Rides Alone opens with an awful miniature shot—even by B-movie standards. It rights itself as John Wayne, playing a cowboy, walks into a saloon full of dead bodies. Fingered for the murders, he goes to jail and escapes, only to find himself joined up with the actual killers.
A pleasant diversion from the usual Lone Star formula sees George “Gabby” Hayes as the villain instead of Wayne’s sidekick. He acquits himself well, even changing out of his shopkeeper’s disguise into an all-black outfit when he does his villainy.
For his part, Wayne is fine, though still stiff. As usual, the film saddles him with a flat romantic lead. This time in Alberta Vaughn.
That said, the most memorable thing about Randy Ride Alone remains the galling miniature shot and director Harry L. Fraser’s’ decision to keep cutting to it. There’s low-budget, and then there’s cheap.
Low-budget can be an asset. It makes Yakima Canutt’s stunts even more thrilling when you realize the budget doesn’t allow for safety nets or wires. Consider the scene where—doubling for Wayne—Canutt jumps from his horse while crossing a bridge to evade pursuers. That’s low budget, but real.
That miniature? That’s just cheap.