Arizona Cyclone is better left on the dusty shelves of yesteryear


Arizona Cyclone (1941)
Rating: 2 of 5.
Directed by Joseph H. Lewis.
Written by Sherman L. Lowe.
Starring: Johnny Mack Brown, Fuzzy Knight, Nell O’Day.

This is the third film I’ve seen from Sherman Lowe, and it is best thus far – substantially better than Pony Post and Bury Me Not on the Open Prairie, though it is still flawed to the brim.

Tom Baxter (Johnny Mack Brown) runs a freight wagon for P-BL, owned by George and Claire Randolph (Nell O’Day), and gets caught up in a rivalry with Quirt Crenshaw (Dick Curtis) who rides for a competing company. Crenshaw undertakes a sabotage campaign to try and bankrupt the P-BL by any means necessary.

Charles Van Enger’s cinematography is solid for its day, though modern viewers will be turned off by the black and white shooting. Music by Milton Rosen and Hans J. Salter is one of the strong points of the film. Sound mixing and film editing are both choppy and inconsistent.

Fuzzy Knight gives the same performance he gives in every film - over the top slapstick comedy. His character is magnetically drawn to the horse trough and can’t seem to walk a straight line without tumbling all over himself.

O’Day is her typical emotionless self, incapable of demonstrating even the slightest hint of sorrow after great personal loss. Johnny Mack Brown is unremarkable.

For no particular reason the film features a few scenes of cowboys giving the kind of flawless vocal performance that would never ever happen in real life.

As is my verdict with the vast majority of the Universal Studios mass-produced early 20th century westerns, Arizona Cyclone is better left on the dusty shelves of yesteryear.