Above: Native American Olympic gold medalist Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox/Potawatomi/European), known to sportsfans as "America's greatest athlete," plays the role of Chief Scarface in
"Rustlers of Red Dog," a 4-hour, 12-chapter serial from Universal Pictures starring Johnny Mack Brown. Thorpe had minor roles like this one in numerous films shot in the Santa Clarita Valley when his
athletic days were behind him. The sequences above reflect the entirety of Thorpe's on-screen time in this serial, just a couple of minutes.
Thorpe's character is one of several "Indian chiefs" who are mounting a "general uprising" in a professed effort to stop new settlers from stealing their land and
killing their buffalo. Thorpe's character finds an ally in the criminal gang leader Rocky (Harry Woods) and his henchman Snakey (Fred MacKay), who are also fighting the settlers, but for
a different reason — they want to steal a $50,000 gold shipment.
Above: It's difficult to tell where "Rustlers of Red Dog" is filmed, other than the scenes at Vasquez Rocks. Most of the scenery is nondescript canyons in the
Santa Clarita Valley. (Not shown here, some scenes use the Alabama Hills, but it's probably stock footage.) A wide swath of the Vasquez Rocks area is used, including Texas Canyon. The clip above is a compilation of two protracted gunfights. The first 10½ minutes
span the end of Chapter 8 and the beginning of Chapter 9. When gang leader Rocky escapes the clutches of hero Jack Wood (Johnny Mack Brown), from 9:00 to 10:30, the scene shifts to what
appears to be Placerita Creek in the vicinity of the Oak of the Golden Dream, on what was then a section of the Walker Ranch. The remainder of the clip is the gunfight in Chapter 12.
This clip shows at least the fifth and seventh times in this 12-chapter serial that Jack saves the damsel in distress, Mary Lee (Joyce Compton). Universal billed Brown and his sidekicks Laramie (Raymond Hatton) and Deacon (Walter Miller)
as the "Three Musketeers of the Old West." Filming was completed in 1934; the serial premiered January 21, 1935. This was Johnny Mack Brown in his prime. In the mid-late 1940s, when Brown and Hatton were past their prime, they co-starred in a number of
"buddy pictures" that were mostly filmed at the Monogram Ranch in Placerita Canyon. Miller had died in 1940.
"Rustlers" is directed by Lew Landers. Writers are George H. Plympton,
Nate Gatzerta and
Vin Moore (screenplay) from a story by Nathaniel Eddy. Cinematographers are Richard Fryer and William A. Sickner.
Rounding out the credited cast are William Desmond,
Charles K. French,
Chief Many Treaties,
Virginia Ainsworth and
The Crockett Family (wagon train musicians in Chapter 4). Uncredited cast members are
Silver Tip Baker,
Horace B. Carpenter,
Iron Eyes Cody,
Tom B. Forman,
John Ince (Thomas Ince's brother),
B.J. Wilson and
Chief Yowlachie (archive footage). Stunt performers are
Bill Patton and