Being a gun for hire is not always what it is cracked up to be, as the one Sundown Saunders is in “Powdersmoke Range”(1935). Maybe it is because Tom Tyler's role demands that he be vicious and unforgiving, acted in a dramatic manner but not too over the top. Sandwiched between “A Rider of the Plains” (1931) and “Stagecoach” (1939), “Powdersmoke Range” remains one of the top three of Tom's performances in a western, from that decade, if only because his role is essential to the plot's development. From the opening scene of the movie where the main players are seated in their acting chairs, to the climactic range war, Tom delivers the best performance in the movie, despite being up against some of the biggest names in B-westerns of the mid-1930's: Harry Carey, Hoot Gibson, Guinn “Big Boy” Williams, and Bob Steele. The first three actors on the list portray the Three Mesquiteers, while Bob is Jeff Ferguson, also known as The Guadalupe Kid, a close friend of the trio. Unlike “Stagecoach” (1939), all five actors including Tom himself have firmly established backgrounds as leading men in silent film. Needless to say, Tom as usual held his own quite well in this star-studded B-western from RKO. It is worth noting that most of scripted interaction he has is with Harry Carey, who portrays Tucson Smith, and the onscreen chemistry between them is what really adds substance to “Powdersmoke Range” with its common western theme of cattle rustlers and gunslinging.
Written by William Colt MacDonald (the screenplay is by Adele Buffington), “Powdersmoke Range” is about a crooked saloon owner who also happens to be a cattle rustler and ranch deed thief named Steve Ogden (Sam Hardy). Ogden confiscates the livestock and deed to the ranch belonging to the Three Mesquiteers and their friend Jeff Ferguson (Bob Steele), also known as he Guadalupe Kid. To make matters worse, the town deputy, Glascow (Adrian Morris) is in cahoots with Ogden. The Three Mesquiteers fight to get their property back, but not without a fight from Sundown Saunders, hired by Ogden to engage Tucson Smith (Carey) in a duel at sundown.
Like a red seal is the setting sun
On the good and the evil men have done,-