What a Fellow
It is so easy to dismiss "The Hawk of Powder River" as just another old western b-movie, heck it even features a singing cowboy which to be honest is one of my pet hates. Yet truth be told whilst there is much to this old movie which is typical it also has some stand out moments and surprisingly one of those are the songs from are singing cowboy. It is the stand out moments, the remorseless villainy of a gang leader and the humour of a sidekick which makes "The Hawk of Powder River" more entertaining than you might imagine.
The Hawk gang has been terrorizing the land with robberies and murder which is why after receiving word of the trouble in Powder River Deputy Marshal Eddie Dean (Eddie Dean) and sidekick Soapy Jones (Roscoe Ates) make there way across country. What no one knows is that the Hawk is in fact a woman Vivian Chambers (Jennifer Holt) who lives with her Uncle who owns a ranch. When her uncle discovers that Vivian is the Hawk her men kill him and spying an opportunity orders the death of her cousin Carole (June Carlson) who is returning from school. But with Eddie showing up none of her evil plans work.
As a whole "The Hawk of Powder River" could be seen as just another old western which trots out a familiar storyline, characters and scenes. And to be honest when it starts it feels just that because whilst having a female gang leader is good it isn't original, nor was having a singing cowboy as a good guy. I could go on as from a barroom brawl to the way Eddie manages to uncover who the gang is is all very familiar.
But the thing is that "The Hawk of Powder River" for all its standard elements actually has some interesting elements especially when you consider when the movie was made. Take Jennifer Holt as Vivian, she is pure evil, there is not a single moment of decency to her and a total callousness which was not just unusual for a bad guy to be so bad but for a female bad guy was seriously unusual. Then there is Eddie Dean as Deputy Eddie Dean now whilst he might look a bit comical the actual character is surprisingly brutal. We see people getting shot in the back and Eddie beating up a man to get evidence, I wouldn't say this is shocking because it all seems so tame now but unusual for what seems such a standard b-movie western.
On the subject of Eddie Dean and my pet hate because I generally dislike singing cowboys unless we are talking a musical which I don't class "The Hawk of Powder River" as. But thanks to Dean's soothing voice and some really entertaining songs, especially the fun "Punchinello" the actual singing cowboy aspect isn't that bad, in fact I will say it I actually enjoyed it. Although I do think that part of the reason for that was down to Roscoe Ates as comedy sidekick Soapy Jones because his humour was scene stealing.
What this all boils down to is that "The Hawk of Powder River" ended up surprisingly entertaining with some interesting elements considering the movies age. Plus we are talking a movie which has now fallen into public domain which means it is free to watch online and at less than hour is an entertaining gap filler.