Cast & Crew
Because cattle have been disappearing in the county at an alarming rate, the Red River Cattlemen's Association decides to seek government help in capturing the rustlers. In response to the cattlemen's pleas, the state attorney general sends the The Three Mesquiteers, Stony Brooke, Tucson Smith and Lullaby Joslin, members of his civilian reserve, to investigate. On the way to Red River, the Mesquiteers help Tex Reilly, an old friend who is being chased, and discover that he has been working undercover to infiltrate the rustlers' gang. The rustlers now know Tex's identity, so he and the Mesquiteers decide that he should change places with Stony and go with Lullaby and Tucson. While Tucson, Lullaby and Tex stay at a ranch owned by Pop Mason and his daughter Jane, who is in love with Tex, Stony, pretending to be an outlaw named "Killer Madigan," checks into a hotel at a dude ranch. Stony signs the register "Jack Benson," but is immediately recognized as Madigan by a bellhop who has seen a wanted poster with Stony's picture over the name Killer Madigan. A short time later, when young Tommy Jones and his father go for a ride, they are chased by the rustlers and Mr. Jones is wounded. Tommy goes to the Mason ranch to get the Mesquiteers, but by the time they return, Mr. Jones is dead. Tucson sees a large truck and tire tracks nearby and thinks that they have something to do with the disappearing cattle. Meanwhile, at the dude ranch, Stony meets Evelyn Maxwell and her mother, who "teach" him how to ride. When Tucson and Lullaby arrive to talk with Stony, they act as if they do not know one another. While pretending to get in a fight with Stony, Tucson reveals that he thinks the cattle rustling parties staged by the ranch as entertainment for the guests, are actually part of the real rustler's activities. Stony then goes on one of the rustling parties, pretending to be a greenhorn. Tucson deduces that when the guests at the ranch round up the cattle during their party, the rustlers then take them away in trucks like the ones he saw earlier. That night, Stony, posing as Madigan, asks the rustlers if he can join them, and the boss of the rustlers, Payne, who is also the manager of the hotel, gives him $500 to get rid of the Mesquiteers. The next day, word gets into the newspaper that two of the Mesquiteers have been killed. Working with Jane and Tex, Stony gets the local citizens to help by planning a big funeral for the "dead" Mesquiteers. Their plan is to have it appear as if the entire town is at the funeral, thus leaving the way open for the rustlers to make one last haul of cattle. While the rustlers are stealing the cattle, however, the Mesquiteers will be waiting to trap them at Box Canyon. Although details are supposed to be kept quiet, Mr. Randall, a member of the Cattlemen's Association, tells the town banker, Mr. Hartley, about the plan, and Hartley tells the rustlers, with whom he has been working all along. The rustlers are soon captured when Tucson, who is riding in one of the trucks with Hartley, realizes that the banker is part of the gang, and a new location is found to capture the rustlers.
A news item in Hollywood Reporter in July 1938 mentioned that Republic Pictures had purchased four stories from William Colt MacDonald to be used as part of Republic's Three Mesquiteers series, including one for Red River Range. The film does not credit MacDonald, however, nor do any of the sources consulted, which all credit Luci Ward with the original story. MacDonald created the Mesquiteer characters and it is possible that Republic only bought the rights to the titles of the four stories and did not use them as specific bases for any films in the series. Actor Kirby Grant made his motion picture debut in this film. In his next known film, Three Sons, released in October 1939, Kirby is billed as "Robert Stanton" and was said to be making his motion picture debut as a winner in Jesse Lasky's "Gateway to Hollywood" contest. The actor changed his name back to Kirby Grant after making several more films under the name Robert Stanton. He became familiar to television audiences as the star of the 1950s television series Sky King. Modern sources include Bob McKenzie, Theodore Lorch, Al Taylor, Jack Montgomery and Edward Cassidy in the cast. For additional information on the series, consult the Series Index and see the entry below for The Three Mesquiteers.
Released in United States 1938
Released in United States 1938