Paradise is almost Purgatory for The Duke
Before John Wayne became a major star following his performance in "Stagecoach" he made a lot of movies, in fact counting bit parts and uncredited performances he was in well over 70 movies before he became a star. Now whilst there are a few hidden gems in amongst Wayne's early roles there is a lot which is simply mediocre and "Paradise Canyon" or "Guns Along the Trail" as it is also known is one of those mediocre ones. Like others from the first part of the 1930's "Paradise Canyon" works its way through a simple storyline with an occasional touch of comedy and a few short bursts of action with plenty of padding to stretch things out to the less than impressive 54 minute running length. But like others from this period of Wayne's career it has some nice stunt work and Wayne's youthful enthusiasm helps to make it interesting.
Government official John Wyatt (John Wayne - The Dawn Rider) is asked to go undercover and try and hunt down a group of counterfeiters who may be part of a travelling medicine show. Having tracked down Doc Carter's medicine show Wyatt finds himself becoming part of the act, showing off his amazing gun skills. And whilst he initially suspects that Doc Carter (Earle Hodgins) maybe involved in the counterfeiting he soon learns that it is the Doc's former partner Curly Joe (Yakima Canutt - Blue Steel) who is the culprit and one who will stop at nothing to protect his little enterprise.
As was the case with Wayne's other b-movies of this period the outcome to "Paradise Canyon" is obvious before you even watch it as these are stories all about Wayne being a western hero. So whilst we may have a storyline which sees Wayne playing Government official John Wyatt on the search for counterfeiters you know that everything which goes on in-between the beginning and end will almost feel like padding. As such whilst we watch Wyatt become part of Doc Carter's medicine show and initially suspecting the counterfeiters to be part of his small team it doesn't take long for him to learn that in fact it is Curly Joe behind it, a former partner of Carter's.
What this all really means is that "Paradise Canyon" runs to a formula from John Wayne turning on the charm as the handsome good guy who also wins the woman through to the big final chase scene where he saves the day. Along the way there are a few minor scuffles, some horse riding antics and gunfire as well as a touch of comedy which really feels quite dull. You could almost say that if you've seen one of these b-movies you've seen them all as whilst the storylines differ what we get given is pretty much the same.
That feeling of being familiar also comes from the performances with John Wayne playing the tall handsome good guy which he tended to do in these movies. And that means that whilst it's nice seeing a different John Wayne from what many remember him for it makes his character 2 dimensional and generic. The same can be said from all the actors who crop up in "Paradise Canyon" with Earle Hodgins being almost preacher like as he tries to flog Doc Carters magical medicine whilst Marion Burns is a generic wide eyed beauty as Linda. The shining light of "Paradise Canyon" is Yakima Canutt whose stunt work is always a joy to watch.
What this all boils down to is that "Paradise Canyon" is not one of the best examples of these early Wayne westerns and to be honest is quite mediocre. With the exception of Yakima Canutt who once again delivers some nice stunt work there is little to distinguish this from those other westerns and whilst a reasonable way to pass an hour there are better early westerns to watch.