Wayne's Almost Stumped
U.S. Marshal John Travers (John Wayne - The Shootist) and his sidekick Yak (Yakima Canutt) are on the trail of a gang lead by the mysterious Shadow who have terrorised the town of Little Rock killing several Sheriffs. When John outsmarts the gang and saves the girl, Anita Matlock (Verna Hillie), riding the stage in to town he offers to become the town's new sheriff. Again being smarter than the bad guys he manages to discover they get their orders through a fake safe in the wall of a building in town.
Times have changed and I would imagine if I had been a ten year old back in 1934 I would have been first in line at the picture house to watch "The Star Packer" also known as "He Wore a Star". It is everything I can imagine a young boy would have loved with a handsome hero taking on the bad guys, plenty of western action especially when it comes to the horse riding and even a touch of mystery. Even the characters of the heroic John and his Indian sidekick Yak would have been ideal and whilst I would have thought it was sappy the fact the hero gets the girl would give me something to groan about.
But now some 80 years after "The Star Packer" was made and having long forgotten what being ten was like my opinion of this Lone Star Productions western is vastly different. Even taking into account that this was one of many factory line movies which John Wayne found himself in during the early 30s it is still pretty poor. Compared to other Lone Star westerns it feels cheap with minimal action and even minimaler, if there is such a word, script. In fact the script at times is so minimal that you could almost mistake it for being a silent movie.
But to give credit where it is due and John Wayne gives it his best to make his part entertaining and it is always entertaining to watch George Hayes before he grew his whiskers and forever became Gabby Hayes. Although at the same time watching stuntman Yakima Canutt cast as the unimaginatively titled Yak is one of the movies many groan elements.
What this all boils down to is that like so many of these early John Wayne movies "The Star Packer" isn't great and is more for those who are devoted fans of the genre or of John Wayne himself.