I don't know why, but I have always liked Richard Dix in films--even though many of his films were B-movies and he died relatively young (while filming the Whistler series). While not the greatest actor of his time, there was something likable about the guy and his acting seemed rather effortless. This film did nothing to hurt my predisposition towards him--rather it enhanced it greatly because he played such a gosh-darn swell guy.
The film begins with Dix in the role of a silent cowboy star much like Tom Mix. He was a hero to the kids and immensely popular. Yet, oddly, when the Talkies arrived, the studio tried casting him in contemporary dramas and the simple cowboy had a hard time adjusting. He was simply all wrong for the parts with his southern drawl and the studio "brains" thought that Westerns were dead. Feeling sorry for him being suddenly unable to find work, one director casts him in a gangster flick, but Dix refuses to complete it because the character was an evil coward and nothing like his old screen persona. His old fans meant too much for him to betray their trust.
Later, after the fan mail all but stopped, a kid who Dix had seen in the hospital years earlier arrived unexpectedly--having snuck cross country just to see his screen idol. The problem is that now Dix is broke and his name is nothing in Hollywood. However, not wanting to disappoint the scamp, Dix comes up with a great plan to pretend he still has his old ranch and is friends with all the big stars. This really is a tad hard to believe, but also very heart-warming and satisfying to watch. In particular, the twist at the end was great viewing. Probable? No, but really well worth seeing.
Aside from Dix's apparent effortless performance, another standout in the film was an incredibly radiant Fay Wray. While I must admit that I have NOT been kind to her performances in the past (since in too many films she only gets a chance to scream or faint--her acting opportunities were terrible), here she was great. Not only was she absolutely beautiful but she also did a great job playing in a variety of roles.
Overall, this is an exceptional B-movie. Despite a rather modest budget, it's highly entertaining old fashioned fun. Plus it's really worth seeing just to see the many acting doubles you see during the party scene. Also, in an interesting twist, Victor McLaglen's near-perfect double is actually his brother, Arthur--no wonder they looked so alike!!