Blue Steel (1934) starring John Wayne, Eleanor Hunt, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Edward Peil Sr., Yakima Canutt, Lafe McKee, George Cleveland directed by Robert N. Bradbury Movie Review

Blue Steel (1934)   3/53/53/53/53/5

John Wayne as John Carruthers in Blue Steel

Wayne is After Stolen Steel

As a western "Blue Steel" or "Stolen Goods" as it is also known is nothing special, it is a very ordinary B-movie one of several which Robert N. Bradbury both wrote and directed and at just 54 minutes it's not long. But what makes "Blue Steel" of interest is that it is one of John Wayne's movies when he was a handsome young man before he became the major star and basically played variations of himself in all his movies. It's not that Wayne does anything special and to be honest it would be difficult to do anything special with what is a very ordinary story, but watching the tall, slim Wayne deliver an enthusiastic performance makes for entertaining viewing.

When Sheriff Jake (George 'Gabby' Hayes) stakes out an inn in the hope of catching the Polka Dot Bandit (Yakima Canutt) he thinks he strikes lucky when he spots a young man fleeing from the open safe. That young man is John Carruthers (John Wayne - The Lucky Texan) and whilst guilty of standing over the open safe isn't guilty of robbing it or being the Polka Dot Bandit. Having caught up with Carruthers Jake is on the verge of arresting him when Carruthers saves his life. Still suspicious of the young man they discover that wealthy businessman Malgrove (Edward Peil Sr.) is trying to buy up the local ranches for minimal money and is making life difficult by blocking supplies from getting through to town. With the rancher's on the verge of giving up, Carruthers and Sheriff Jake must work together to stop Malgrove from succeeding.

Eleanor Hunt and Edward Peil Sr. in Blue Steel

There is no disguising the fact that the storyline to "Blue Steel" isn't that good, full of holes and predictable from start to finish. The minute we see John Carruthers hide under the stairs in an Inn you know that he is going to end up in trouble whether he caused it or not and when we meet Sheriff Jake Withers who shows up not long after Carruthers you know that he will be the one who thinks that Carruthers is no good. But in western tradition Carruthers is a man who wears a white hat and rides a white horse so we know he can't be trouble as trouble wears black or at least it did for a long time. And then we have the often used cliche that a local wealthy man wants to buy up everyone's ranches on the cheap and so with his band of men make life hard for them, stopping supplies.

To put it simply in the 54 minutes which "Blue Steel" runs for there is little other than one cliche after another. There is one twist but that twist adds nothing to the actual movie and so it is a case of sitting back and watching the drama and action unfold in a very obvious manner as Carruthers goes after the bad guys and Sheriff Jake helps him whilst also suspicious of him being behind a robbery.

Now as such "Blue Steel" doesn't have the best of storylines although what you do expect from a B-movie but it also doesn't have that much action either. There are a handful of very tame gunfights and a minor scuffle strangely played out in almost silence which ends up feeling quite cheesy and seriously orchestrated. The best action comes from when Sheriff Jake ends up falling into a river and Carruthers dives in to save him a scene which is heavily edited but still the most exciting.

But to be honest all of this is what you expect from a B-movie and a western made on the cheap and the acting is the same delivering the cliche performances and characters you expect. From George 'Gabby' Hayes playing old time Sheriff Jake to Eleanor Hunt playing wide eyed damsel in distress Betty it is all cliche and the comedy of a young couple who come in to the inn embarrassed to book a room is simply pitiful. But then the real reason to watch "Blue Steel" comes from it being an early John Wayne movie when he was slim, tall and youthfully handsome, but more importantly before he had gained all those traits which dominated his later performances. This is by no means a good performance from Wayne but he delivers a refreshing dose of enthusiasm and confidence which makes him entertaining.

What this all boils down to is that "Blue Steel" or "Stolen Goods" as it is also known is not a good western and every bit a B-movie made on a small budget. There is nothing that good about it from the storyline through to the action. But it becomes entertaining because of the youthful John Wayne who has such enthusiasm that you don't mind everything which is bad with the movie.