Sunset Trail Movie (1938)

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Direction Lesley Selander
Production Harry Sherman
Scenario Norman Houston
Cinematography Russell Harlan
Music Gerard Carbonara
Editor Robert B. Warwick Jr.
Genre Action, Adventure, Drama
Runtime 69 min
Release Date February 24, 1939
Country United States
Language English


Actor Movie Character
William Boyd Hapalong Cassidy
George “Gabby” Hayes Windy Halliday
Russell Hayden Lucy Jenkins
Charlotte Wynters Ann Marsh
Jan Clayton Dorrie Marsh
Robert Fiske Monte Keller
Kenneth Harlan John Marsh
Anthony Nace Henchman Steve Dorman
Kathryn Sheldon Abigail Snodgrass
Maurice Cass E. Prescott Furbush
Alphonse Ethier Superintendent
Glenn Strange Bouncer
Claudia Smith Mary Rogers


The film begins with ranch owner John Marsh (Kenneth Harlan) and casino owner Monte Keller (Robert Fiske) negotiating on a cattle sale deal. They meet later in the afternoon at Keller’s place to close the cash deal.

After finalizing the deal, John and his family head out of town. Unfortunately, John is killed in an ambush by Keller’s bandits and all the $30,000 dollars are stolen. The widow Ann Marsh (Charlotte Wynters) records her statements with an agent concerning her husband’s death.

An agent advices Ann to open up a guest ranch in Silver City and he even offers his friend Hapalong Cassidy (William Boyd) as her first client. Hopalong will later play a crucial role in investigating her husband’s murder.

Ann and her daughter Dorrie set up the ranch. Hopalong finally arrives with a bunch of other guests. She feels intimidated by Steve Dorman with whom Keller insisted to work for her. Lucky Jenkins and Windy Halliday are also hired at the ranch as part of Hopalong’s plan. Lucky shows interest in Dorrie but turns him down at any approach.

While gambling at Keller’s casino, Hopalong finds a note similar to one of the stolen $30,000. He shares the information with Ann who later confirms they were exact. Hopalong later confronts Steve and shoots him dead in a gunfight. Ann finally finds out who Hopalong is. He later sends Lucky to warn the patrol team of an incoming raid.

Ann pretends to buy into Keller’s idea of a partnership in a disguise plan of robbing Hopalong. Hopalong wins all the $30,000 back and he threatens to kill Keller in case he attempted to come for the money.
Meanwhile, Keller is informed that Hopalong was responsible for Steve’s death. He launches a vicious attack on Hopalong and his men. In their pursuit, they meet a standby patrol team that overpowers them. Hopalong kills Keller in a case of self -defense. He and his sidekicks finally depart the ranch leaving a few hearts broken.


Being the 22nd film in the Hopalong Cassidy series, Sunset Trail was never a disappointment. The producer manages to combine action, humor, drama, and adventure in a way that best suits the film. The plot is well paced and no one can predict what would happen next. Set in an era where Westerns dominated, the producer never shunned away from the genre.

The casting was spot on. Monte Keller is a rich casino owner who foul plays John Marsh. He represents the typical Western bandits. However, one cannot suspect him of any wrongdoing due to his elegance and eloquence.

Hapalong Cassidy takes the show with a suit and trilby different from his iconic black outfit in other movies. He plays a coward at first but all this was to hide his main identity and agenda. He later plays the hero in the end.

Ann and Dorrie represent resilient ladies that overcome all odds to begin a successful ranch. Ann has a unique ability of memorizing the codes in the notes. The sidekicks to both Hopalong and Keller play perfect roles of being subjects to their masters.

The backdrop of cowboy dressing, cattle ranches, bandits, horseback fights, gunfights, and the unique hilly planes epitomizes the genre. Lucky plays the guitar in a rehearsal to entertaining the guests. Dorrie joins in by singing a famous country song.

Acts of humor are evident when Dorrie pours water on Lucky and she tells him that it would cool him off. One of the guest ladies falls in love with Windy Halliday and she even chases him around a hay stack.

The picture quality is poor but that is based on a comparison with the modern films. In contrast to films of that era, it was an upgrade. For anyone willing to watch an interesting Western, you ought to settle with this one. There are no sexual scenes and even the action is regulated. A rating of 7.2 out of 10 says it all.

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