Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie (1941)
Rating: 2 of 5 stars.
Directed by Ray Taylor.
Written by Sherman L. Lowe, Victor McLeod.
Starring Johnny Mack Brown, Fuzzy Knight, Nell O’Day.
Johnny Mack Brown stars as Joe Henderson, out to avenge the murder of his brother, who was gunned down by claim jumpers after striking gold.
Fuzzy Knight is riotous as usual with his signature brand of over-the-top buffoonery. After finding his own gold, he suffers a head injury and loses his grasp on reality, much to the dismay of the three murderous bandits. They find him and his saddlebag full of gold, but can’t extract any information on where he found it.
Bury Me Not is nearly identical to Pony Post, which came out a year prior. Ray Taylor and Sherman Lowe made notable improvements on their previous exploit, though the film is still heavily flawed. The fights are more real and less excessively choreographed, and Knight’s comedic routine is reigned in significantly. The sound mixing, cinematography, and dialogue all received much needed upgrades.
Still, the drama and human element are nonexistent. The whole film takes place immediately following the murder of the protagonist’s brother and his girlfriend’s father. And yet, not a single tear is shed. There is no sorrow, the tone is consistently upbeat, and the quest for vengeance is more of an obligation than anything.
The film is filled with the silly oddities of its day. A campsite full of singing cowboys is fine, but realistically, they probably shouldn’t have Grammy Award-quality vocals. There are traces of subtle racist stereotyping that you have to expect from that era. At one point the sheriff rounds up an entire posse just to deal with an Indian who “got a hold of some firewater and went plumb loco.”
Overall, the movie will play fine for fans of the era, but it won’t survive the annals of history, and your modern viewer will find little to enjoy.