The Big Stampede (1932) Poster

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Routine Early Wayne Western!
bsmith55524 December 2006
"The Big Stampede" was the second of six "B" westerns starring John Wayne and his horse "Duke" made by Warner Bros. for the 1932-33 season. As was the case in this series, this film was a re-make of a Ken Maynard silent (in this case, 1927s Land Beyond the Law).

Sam Crew (Noah Beery Sr.) is luring settler's wagon trains (and their cattle) to New Mexico where he rustles the cattle for himself. Governor Lew Wallace (Berton Churchill), who in real life wrote "Ben-Hur", assigns John Steele (Wayne) as a Deputy Sheriff to clean up the problem.

He drifts into town and poses as a shiftless drunk to gain knowledge of the situation. A wagon train led by Cal Brett (Lafe McKee) comes to town and turns to Crew for help in settling in the area. But Crew has other ideas.

When Crew's gunman, Arizona (Paul Hurst) murders Brett, Steele vows to bring in the killer. It just happens that Brett had a young daughter, Ginger (Mae Madison) and a sling shot slinging son Patrick (Sherwood Bailey). Steele naturally takes to the two.

Bandito Sonora Joe (Luis Alberni) and his gang compete with Crew for the settler's cattle. Steele for some unknown reason has enough faith in Sonora Joe to have him throw in with him to bring down Sam Crew. In the final showdown there is a "big stampede" (lifted from the Maynard film) and.........................................

Wayne's inexperience really shows In this film. His acting is mediocre at best but he would gain valuable experience over the next seven years in films like this. There seems to have been a scene or two cut from this film. Wayne's transition from the drunken drifter to heroic sheriff is missing. He just suddenly becomes the upstanding hero without explanation.

This film is boosted somewhat by the casting of Noah Beery Sr. as the snarling villain Crew. Alberni is also good as Sonora Joe, providing the film's comedy relief. Berton Churchill would appear as Gatewood the banker in Wayne's breakthrough film, "Stagecoach (1939).
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Yet another Schlesinger-produced John Wayne B movie.
MartinHafer27 May 2010
Through the 1930s, most of John Wayne's films were B-westerns--much like the films of the like of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers--though (in most cases) without the singing (don't even get me started on the silly 'Singing Sandy' films he made). In general, the films are above average for these sort of movies, though series B-movies were never meant as high art. The writing was extremely simplistic as were the characters, but thanks to Wayne's nice acting and some exceptional stunt-work, most of the films are a lot of fun for lovers of the genre. Now not all of his films of this type were created equal. Some (such as his Three Mesquiteer series) were very enjoyable while others (many of his films done for Leon Schlesinger) were really, really bad. As this is a Schlesinger film, my hopes were not set really high, as the last two I watched ("Ride Him Cowboy" and "Haunted Gold") were just awful--a surprise since the films were distributed by Warner Brothers-Vitaphone Studio--a bigger-name company and higher status company than than those that usually produced cheap B westerns. Is this one any better? I could only hope! The film begins with Wayne meeting with the governor and volunteering to become a marshal in New Mexico and bring its lawlessness under control. This is a very typical sort of plot but is interesting because the governor portrayed was a real-life guy--General Lew Wallace (Berton Churchill). Wallace was a Civil general, governor and author of "Ben Hur" and seeing him as a character surprised me.

Like his other films, his co-star is his horse, 'Duke'. This is a bit ironic, as 'the Duke' was later Wayne's nickname and, in general, this smart horse was the best thing going for these movies! It was so smart and talented, it could have rivaled Roy Rogers' beloved Trigger in intelligence and acting ability! As marshal, Wayne makes an apparently insane move and makes a low-down Mexican bandit-sort, Sonora, his deputy. Clearly, he must have read that he should do this in the script, as it made no sense--any sane lawman would have thought twice or three times before handing a badge to this guy! Yet, as I said, it was in the script, so you know it will work out for the better by the end of the film! And together they take on the chief baddie (Noah Beery). Can you guess who wins in the end?! The film has a better plot than most of the Schlesinger/Wayne films. The bad guy is also better and more memorable than most. As for the stunts, they are once again the highlight of the film. I assumed that it's Yakima Canutt in charge of the great stunt-work, but IMDb did not indicate this--meaning there must have been some other great stunt men doing some of these insanely dangerous and cool stunts OR it was a Canutt job after all but he just isn't credited. Regardless, the work is impressive even today and you wonder how they got anyone crazy enough to do these tricks! Overall, it's a very pleasant little B-film. Compared to other films in this crowded genre, it's very good. It certainly cannot be compared to a typical full-length western, but for what it is it's nice. My score of 7 is relative to other B westerns. What a pleasant surprise! By the way, if the name Schlesinger is familiar, it should be. He's the guy who oversaw production of cartoons for Warner Brothers for several decades. Apparently, I heard he hated cartoons and his job, but he was certainly a lot more successful with them than with B westerns.
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Early Wayne Western Have Similar Traits, And That's Fine
ccthemovieman-119 February 2007
A number of John Wayne's early westerns looked alike, but that's not a criticism because the handful I've seen were all entertaining.

That's one similarity: others included the fact they only were about an hour long, had interesting (albeit strange) dialog, had a pretty lead female (here, Mae Madison) and a very talented horse named "Blue." Of course, the men were all tough guys.

There is a lot of action and interesting scenes packed into this one hour.

My only complaint was that Luis Alberini's character made the Mexicans look unnecessarily stupid.
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JohnHowardReid20 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Copyright 28 September 1932 by Vitagraph Pictures, Inc. Released through Warner Bros. No New York showcase. U.S. release: 8 October 1932. U.K. release: March 1933. 54 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: A bandit (Alberni) aids a new deputy sheriff (Wayne) in cleaning up a gang of rustlers organised by a big land owner (Beery) in New Mexico.

NOTES: A re-make of The Land Beyond the Law (1927) starring Ken Maynard as Steele, Dorothy Dwan as Ginger, Tom Santschi as Crew, Noah Young as the bandit chief, Gibson Gowland as Crew's vicious henchman, Billy Butts as the youngster, and "Tarzan" the horse as himself. Directed by Harry J. Brown, photographed by Sol Polito for Charles R. Rogers Productions.

Re-made again in 1936 under the original title, this time with Dick Foran.

COMMENT: The original Ken Maynard effort must have been one spectacular movie. True, some of the stock footage was undoubtedly lifted from earlier films, but it's still mighty impressive. This Wayne re-make would certainly have knocked the socks off most spectators who must have a wondered how a little "B" western could afford such exceptionally lavish effects.

And it's not that The Big Stampede relies to all that great an extent on stock footage either! Impressively adding to the tautness and suspense of the script are a fine roster of players, led by the personable Wayne, the delightfully villainous Beery and the psycho-comic Hurst. (Love the way the cast is introduced in the credit titles: Wayne chatting to "Duke", Hurst glowering at a laughing Beery, Miss Madison looking uncomfortable whilst Master Bailey stares self-consciously at the camera).

Wright has directed with considerable flair and panache, making the most of the many action sequences (especially the saloon appointment) staged especially for this movie.

For the most part, the stock material is cleverly integrated. It's only the speed of the silent footage that gives the game away - though all the same it's still hard to tell where some Land Beyond shots stop and Big Stampede begins (the gunning down of Lafe McKee, for instance). Realistic sets and locations allow ace cinematographer Ted McCord to present a series of pictures that are always fascinating or appealing.
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Good Fun Thanks to the Cast
Michael_Elliott16 August 2016
The Big Stampede (1932)

*** (out of 4)

Entertaining "B" Western has John Steele (John Wayne) taking over as the sheriff in a small town that has had an issue with local lawmen being murdered. He gets the help of Mexican bandit Sonora Joe (Luis Alberni) and the two try to track down the killer.

THE BIG STAMPEDE is the second of six Westerns that Wayne made while at Warner Bros.. The majority of these films have been forgotten because of what classics he would make throughout the next several decades but those interested in seeing where the legend started should enjoy this for what it is.

Obviously this isn't an Oscar-winner or any sort of ground-breaking film but it works as a small film. The film manages to keep you entertained through the short 54-minute running time thanks in large part to the cast. Wayne actually turns in a pretty decent performance here and especially early on when his character has some sympathy for wanting to take the job being offered. I thought Alberni stole the show in his supporting performance and Noah Beery is also good here. Yeah, Duke, the horse, is here too.

The film contains some nice shoot outs as well as some nice chases, which help keep the thing moving at a nice pace. Fans of Wayne or these early "B" Westerns should be entertained by this.
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Law And Order in New Mexico
bkoganbing10 February 2012
The Big Stampede casts John Wayne as a Deputy Marshal assigned by Governor Lew Wallace to stamp out lawlessness in the territory that President Hayes assigned him to govern. The chief villain of this western is Noah Beery, Sr. who is a John Chisum like cattle baron, but in Beery's case, he's acquired his big spread and large herd by doing a lot of rustling.

In the meantime Wayne falls for new settler Mae Madison who is also raising her younger brother Sherwood Bailey from the Our Gang series. He was the one thing I really did not like about The Big Stampede, he was one annoying little brat forever trying out his slingshot and causing more trouble than anything else.

John Wayne got to work with two players who later would have a much bigger impact on his career in The Big Stampede. Governor Lew Wallace who in his spare time was writing what would turn out to be Ben-Hur is played by Berton Churchill. Churchill as we know was part of that great ensemble cast John Ford put together for Stagecoach playing Gatewood the fatuous banker who was really an embezzler. And Beery's chief henchman is played by Paul Hurst who Wayne would cast in The Angel And The Badman. Later on the Duke would cast a dying Paul Hurst in Big Jim McLain in a small role so Hurst could pay his medical bills.

The most interesting part in the film is played by Luis Alberni as rival bandit Sonora Joe. Another reviewer said that this is highly unrealistic. But in real life around the same time Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday were forming an unusual friendship and in the real New Mexico territory Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid started out as friends before Garrett took on the task of bringing in Billy dead or alive. Alberni has the best lines in the film and he's of real help to Wayne. I guess Alberni just liked the Duke's style in this film.

The Big Stampede holds up pretty well though it well never make the list of the Duke's top ten films.
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Duke On The Duke
frank412228 May 2019
Duke did 6 pictures with his miracle horse Duke and the horse stole some of the best scenes in this one. But The Big Stampede has some great action and great acting. The Governor, played by Berton Churchill sends in Deputy Sheriff Steele (John Wayne) into the New Mexico range lands to end the rustling. He needs big time help from bandito Luis Alberni to fend off the all time great 'heavy' Noah Beery. Of course it doesn't hurt to have stunning blue eyed blonde Ginger Malloy by your side. It's interesting to note that she had to lie about not being able to ride a horse to get the part, but I'm sure John Wayne or the cast didn't mind a bit. An early Duke film that should be seen by all his fans and anyone interested in a great early western.
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"So they're sending in another deputy, eh?"
classicsoncall27 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I happened to catch this film back to back with "Cahill, U.S. Marshal", and you couldn't ask for a better contrast between the John Wayne who appeared in one of his very first movies, and the one who finished out a career in one of his very last Westerns. Wayne was strikingly handsome in these early oaters, and because he appeared rail thin, looked somewhat taller than he did in his films of the late Seventies portraying characters like Cahill, Big Jake and Rooster Cogburn, all notably huskier and gruffer looking.

"The Big Stampede" was one of six movies Wayne appeared in under the 'Four Westerns" banner, an offshoot of the Warners studio. He was paired with a white horse named Duke, a conscious choice because Duke needed to resemble Ken Maynard's horse Tarzan when they sometimes appear in silent film stock footage used by the Four Westerns pictures. I hadn't noticed it before, but Duke bore what looked like an 'A1' mark or brand on his left hindquarter in this picture. I'll have to keep an eye out for it in other films.

As far as the story goes, it's somewhat unusual in that newly deputized sheriff John Steele (Wayne) sees fit to team up with a Mexican bandit named Sonora Joe (Luis Alberni) in order to break up a cattle rustling operation run by outlaw Sam Crew, played by Noah Beery. What makes the situation even more incredible is that earlier, Steele stopped Sonora Joe and his banditos from stealing cattle that was part of the wagon train Steele was riding with.

Apparently, story continuity wasn't one of the primary concerns for these early Westerns. There was an instance where Steele left the wagon train to make his way to Fort Cummings to see if the Army could use some beef cattle. However right after he left, the very next scene shows Steele playing harmonica back in camp with the rest of the cattle men. It could be that the version I watched on Turner Classics was an incomplete print because there were also a distracting number of flaws in the picture about fifteen minutes in.

Still, if you're a John Wayne fan or a follower of these early Westerns, it's a fun flick that blows by in just under an hour. Like many of his first couple dozen films, Wayne's character wins the female lead, in this case Mae Madison, at the end of the picture. This time however, Sonora Joe has to stop Ginger's younger brother Patrick (Sherwood Bailey) from interrupting the romance - "All is fair in love and war, but no sling shot"!

Addendum**** 6-7-2016 - Doing a little research on 'Duke', you can see a pretty good screen capture of the brand noted in my review here at: Apparently it's a combination of the letters AH as one can see from the picture.
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"Who da devil are you?"
utgard1422 April 2014
Marshal John Steele (John Wayne) teams up with Mexican outlaw Sonora Joe (Luis Alberni) to take on villainous Sam Crew (Noah Beery). Paul Hurst plays one of Beery's henchmen. I'm used to seeing him in gangster pictures and other urban movies like that. He does fine here though. John Wayne made six of these B westerns for Leon Schlesinger that were distributed by Warner Bros. He appears with talented stunt horse Duke in each one. They're all watchable but nothing special. This is one of the better ones, thanks in large part to Noah Beery as the heavy. Luis Alberni is also lots of fun as the flamboyant Sonora Joe, even if he is Mexican by way of Madrid.
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j. wayne in N. Beery in western from 1932
ksf-25 October 2019
Big Stampede with John Wayne, in one of his earlier credited roles... as John, deputy, in the cattle driving days. he's out to catch Sam (Noah Beery) and Joe (Luis Alberni) rustling cattle. Co-stars Mae Madison, as the love interest. It's a shortie, at only 55 minutes, but they pack a lot in. early talkie western. early credited role for J. Wayne. and it seems to be about the time New Mexico was looking for state-hood. they keep talking about how they will never get statehood with all the violence and rustling still going on. horses. bad guys. hero. all the great western ingredients. Directed by Tenny Wright, in one of the seven films Wright directed! He and Wayne made this one and Telegraph Trail together. apparently filmed in the hills between Merced and Monterey. Original story by Marion Jackson, who had written a whole bunch of western stories, which were made into films from the 1920s into the 1930s. it's pretty good. Sound and picture are surprisingly good for a film from 1932... either a very good quality print, or maybe its been restored. check it out!
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Artful Horsemanship
Single-Black-Male5 February 2004
The person of the 25 year old John Wayne is beginning to merge with the western genre film. He is developing a following by this with convincing fist fights. He is a household name churning out 10 films per year.
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Warner Bros. warns America that most if not all Rich People . . .
oscaralbert8 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
. . . are thieving crooks with this 1932 offering, THE BIG STAMPEDE. Sam "S.Crew-the-Little-Guy" Crew is New Mexico's richest resident, worth about 18 Trumps (adjusted for inflation). You might wonder what beneficial product Mr. Crew discovered, invented, or manufactured to earn his fabulous wealth. Your answer is: None. He simply hires gun-wielding assassins to filch all the cattle in three states. Is it any surprise that polls show 91% of U.S. gun owners backing America's current Robber Baron, Trump? Or that Trump's main "products" are the 4,000 lawsuits documented by USA TODAY that he's used to shirk 89% of his tax obligations, 62% of his contractors' bills, 74% of his Hotel Workers' overtime pay--all while retaining 95% of the gross on his scams, such as Trump U? Or that his business savvy is worse than his People Skills, so that Russia's KGB schemer Vladimir "Mad Dog" Putin has bailed Trump out of at least $5 billion worth of bankruptcy debt, as the WALL STREET JOURNAL reveals? Warner Bros. decides that S.Crew must be Trumpled to Death in THE BIG STAMPEDE. Perhaps this is the proverbial "word to the wise" one always is hearing about.
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