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Western films, from silent to today

Saddle Tramp (1950)

Saddle Tramp (1950) poster Joel McCrea is Chuck Conner, the saddle tramp of the title, a man bound for California, determined to live a life free of responsibility.

But en route he decides to stop and see an old friend, Slim Stevens, a man who is raising four sons on his own after his wife died.

That night, Slim slips out of the house to check a noise in the night and mounts Conner’s horse. Unbeknownst to him, it’s a former rodeo mount that bucks every time a shot is fired.

Slim winds up being thrown from the horse and dies, leaving behind four orphans for whom Conner suddenly feels responsible. So he takes them along when he heads off in search of his next landing place.

That happens to be the ranch of Jess Higgins, a rancher who refuses to hire men with children. So Conner fibs about being a loner and hides the children in the woods, smuggling food to them whenever possible.

Soon the four become five as the boys adopt a pretty runaway teen named Della (Wanda Hendrix).

Meanwhile, Chuck also finds himself smack dad in the middle of a range war. Someone’s been steling Higgins’ cattle, and Higgins suspects his neighbor, Martinez.

Review:

Endearing little film that comes close to being something special, filled with light-hearted moments, like Ma Higgins’s belief in little people and Jess Higgins’ scoffing at any such notion.

Part of the fun: McCrea’s efforts to hide five children become more and more difficult that longer he works at the Higgins’ ranch.

Of course, the age difference between Hendrix (then 22) and McCrea (then 45) is a bit difficult to swallow as romance blossoms between them, especially since she’s fleeing a creepy uncle (Ed Begley).

John Russell and Peter Leads play the ranch foremen for Higgins and Martinez, respectively. Let’s just say the feud between the landowners proves unfounded.

Child actor Jimmy Hunt would appear with McCrea again in “Lone Hand” (1953). Orley Lindgren can also be seen in “Wild Stallion” (1952) and “The Savage” (1952), where he has a bit role as the Charlton Heston character when he was a young boy.

Wanda Hendrix as Della with Joel McCrea as Chuck Conner in Saddle Tramp (1950)Directed by:
Hugo Fregonese

Cast:
Joel McCrea … Chuck Conner
Wanda Hendrix … Della
John Russell … Rocky
John McIntire … Jess Higgins
Jeanette Nolan … Ma Higgins
Russell Simpson … Pop
Ed Begley … Mr. Hartnagle
Jimmy Hunt … Robbie Stevens
Orley Lindgren … Tommie Stevens
Gordon Gebert … Johnnie Stevens
Gregory Moffett … Butch Stevens
John Ridgely … Slim Stevens
Antonio Moreno … Martinez
Walter Coy … The Stranger
Joaquin Garay … Pancho
Peter Leads … Springer
Michael Steele … Orvie
Paul Picerni … Denver

Runtime: 90 min.

Joel McCrea as Chuck Conner with John Ridgely as Slim Stevens and three of his sons in Saddle Tramp (1950)Memorable lines:

Chuck Conner, admiring a flock of birds overhead: “Look at them. Free as the air. That’s me. Earth and sky and horse under you. What more could a man want? Take that herd of white faces and look at the trouble the fellar has that owns them. Fences to keep up. Water holes to clean out. And taxes. It’s responsibility kills people off young. Folks are just too grabby, wanting land, wanting houses, wanting money in the bank. Give me a quiet horse and a peaceful stretch of country and no one near you to …”
Then a shot rings out.

Chuck Conner: “Who are those crazy galoots went through here shootin’ at those other crazy galoots runnin’ ahead of them. What’s the trouble?”

Chuck Conner, looking at the horse that threw the Stevens boys’ father: “If I had a gun, I’d put a slug right through you. Maybe you didn’t know what you were gettin’ me into. Or did you?”

Chuck Conner, after his five wards help knock out Rocky: “If I don’t end up in jail, it won’t be because I wasn’t pushed in that direction.”

Chuck Conner, as Della rushes to his rescue: “Nothin’ to worry about now. At least not for a few minutes.”

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