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anonymous maq

Movie Review: the Three Mesquiteers

So, what do you call a post-WWI, pre-WWII tale of Ranchers vs. Homesteaders (with the added twist that the homesteaders are returning WWI veterans)? How about "The Three Mesquiteers"?

Turns out this is the beginning of a whole series of short movies, sort of like the Buck Rogers serials. But in the Not Quite So Old West. In fact, one of the first things that one of the main characters comments on is the fact that, "This is 1919! The wild and wooly days are over!"

Sure they are, Slim.

The movie starts off with Backstory! 1917! Armistice! Veterans hospital! "Look fellas, I got mah new leg!" - one thing I'll give the film credit for: they don't shy away from showing that the veterans have had a rough time of it in Europe. One of them is missing an arm, one's missing a leg. Half the guys have been gassed, and one of them has been driven so far around the bend that he's now an accomplished accordionist.

At any rate, the veterans decide that they're all going to club together and head out to San Juan valley and start up homesteads there. Y'see, the air is just what the doctor recommends. Did I mention that a lot of them got gassed?

Soon their convoy of Army surplus jeeps and motorcycles arrive in a quaint Western town. Some of the cowpokes out there are also veterans. Others are ranchers, and they don't take kindly to the idea that the land they've been using might suddenly be turned into farms. There's the traditional bar fight with piano accompaniment, and the veterans turn in their motor vehicles for horses. Because it's The West, that's why!

Sure enough, the ranchers start messing with the vets, and the whole thing gets into a spiral of retributive violence. It gets so bad that one of the vets is forced to RIDE A HORSE - despite having been gassed! Did I mention the gas? At any rate, he dies of horse, and the whole situation becomes one that can only end in gunplay.

Unfortunately for the ranchers, the homesteaders are all WWI veterans. And they brought home souvenirs. There's nothing like a couple of grenades to bring an abrupt end to an Olde Tyme Wilde West gunfight, and the homesteaders live happily every after.

Except for those who died of riding a horse, of course.

Comments

The returning veteran concept was quite good - I found myself humming a bunch of the tunes from my granddad's old collection of WWI era 78's. The thing is, I think the studio had a stack of old Western Movie scripts that they wanted to shoot. The movie totally jettisoned any connection to modernity the moment that the homesteaders traded in their jeeps and motorcycles for horses and covered wagons, and only brought it back when they realized they'd written themselves into a corner at the end.
Sort of the opposite of Gunbus, where the gunfighters get "drafted" into combat as WWI pilots.