Hopalong Cassidy


William Boyd – Hopalong Cassidy:  1895 – 1972:

Born in Ohio in 1895 and raised in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, William Boyd arrived in Hollywood around 1918.  He became a full-fledged leading man during the silent era, and his best work from that period included many films for Cecil B. deMille.

But roles had been tough to find during the early to mid 1930s.  Stories and rumors generally mention: that Boyd looked too old due to his prematurely grey hair; and that Boyd was a womanizer and liked parties and alcohol.

In the mid 1930s, Harry “Pop” Sherman convinced Paramount to release a series of westerns based on the Hopalong Cassidy novels and short stories authored by Clarence E. Mulford.  Forty year old William Boyd was given the lead of Hopalong Cassidy.

The first in the new series, HOP-A-LONG CASSIDY (Paramount, 1935) had Boyd being helped by James Ellison, a handsome fellah and pretty good actor who portrayed Hoppy's saddle pal 'Johnny Nelson'. 

The Cassidy films, particularly the 1935-1941 Paramount releases, are a definite notch or two above the typical B western, and the production quality and higher budgets are immediately apparent.  Plus, the scripting and plots were good, the photography was superb, and about half were filmed at scenic Lone Pine, California.  Additionally, the running times were much longer than the normal 55-60 minute B western  movies.

When the Hopalong Cassidy series ended in the 1950s, Boyd purchased the rights to the Hopalong films and character.  He also formed his own production company to resurrect the Cassidy cinema adventures.

When TV came, the Hopalong movies were edited down to about 54 minutes to fit both film and commercials into a one hour time slot.  For the 1952-53 and 1953-54 seasons, there were 52 half-hour Hoppy adventures.  A dozen were created (condensed) from the later United Artists films with Andy Clyde and Rand Brooks. And 40 brand new “made for TV” half hour Hoppy shows were shown.

In addition to TV, Boyd did circuses, rodeos, personal appearance tours, hospital visits, et al.  He brought the Hoppy series to radio ... he opened up his own Hoppyland theme park ... and merchandising included hats, gunbelts, lunch buckets, clothing and more.  There was also a long running series of comic books.  He was on the covers of magazines such as Life, Look and TV Guide


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1.  The Painted Desert (1931) Bill Boyd and Clark Gable

This is Bill Boyd before he became Hopalong Cassidy.

Western partners Jeff (J. Farrell MacDonald) and Cash (William Farnum) find a baby boy in an otherwise deserted emigrants camp, and clash over which is to be "father". 

They are still bitterly feuding years later when they own adjacent ranches. 

Bill, the foundling whom Cash has raised to young manhood, wants to end the feud and extends an olive branch toward Jeff, who now has a lovely daughter. 

But during a mining venture, the bitterness escalates

Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) deals with a fake Baron and Sue Willard (Jan Clayton) who claims to be Colonel Rufe White's niece of White's Ranch.

3.  Three Men From Texas (1940) - Hopalong Cassidy:

This 31st entry of the 66 films in the Hopalong Cassidy series marks the first of 35 consecutive appearances, in the remaining films of the series, of  comedian Andy Clyde in the role of "California Carlson".  

This film finds local officers in an outlaw-infested town in California helpless to cope with the situation and a citizens committee comes to Texas and appeals to the Texas Rangers for help in organizing the forces of law and order. Captain Andrews of the Rangers offers the assignment to Hopalong Cassidy and Lucky Jenkins (Russell Hayden), but Cassidy, whose period of service in the Rangers is almost over, refuses. The as-usual impetuous Lucky takes the job alone. While on patrol duty, Cassidy is following the trail of a large herd of rustled horses and discovers the hide-out of the Bruce Morgan gang... 

4.  Border Patrol (1943) – Hopalong Cassidy:

Hoppy, California and Johnny are Texas Rangers trying to end a scheme which smuggles Mexicans into the United States to become essentially slaves in a silver mine owned by Orestes Krebs. The three are captured, sentenced to hang, and then escape. They free the slaves and capture the bad guys.

5.  Lumberjack (1944) – Hopalong Cassidy:

Julie's husband has been murdered and land agents want her to sign away her property rights. Hoppy warns against this but she does so anyway. It looks as though she will be unable to deliver the timber called for in her agreement. Hoppy has to make the lumber deal happened and solve the murder.

6a. Hopalong Cassidy Rides Again (1937) part 1 - On a cattle drive Hoppy, camp cook Windy, companion Lucky, and young Artie Peters encounter an eccentric professor. The professor professes to be searching for the evolutionary missing link, but in reality he is a cattle rustler who uses his dynamite to scatter the cattle in order capture some of them. Hoppy and Bar 20 guys ultimately capture the professor.

6b. Hopalong Cassidy Rides Again part 2 

7a. Hopalong Cassidy Silver on the Sage (1939) part 1 - Hoppy goes undercover as a gambler from the East when Bar 20 cattle are stolen by unknown rustlers. Brennan/Talbot are twin brothers (one a casino owner, the other a rancher) and Hoppy believes they provide alibis for each other while one is out committing crimes. Hoppy gets a job in the casino to learn more but is exposed when a gambling gunslinger notices him.

7b. Hopalong Cassidy Silver on the Sage part 2

8a. Hopalong Cassidy - Hidden Gold (1940) part 1 - Hoppy and Lucky confront a gang of outlaws which has been ravaging stagecoaches and gold mines. The final gunfight is at Ed Colby's mine.

8b. Hopalong Cassidy - Hidden Gold part 2  

9.  Doomed Caravan (1941) - Hopalong Cassidy - In old California, as a favor to a mine owner friend, ranch hand Hopalong Cassidy, his sidekick, Lucky Jenkins, and other ranch hands escort a load of gold bullion safely to Crescent City. When they deliver the gold to Jane Travers, owner of the Crescent City Freight Company, she informs "Hoppy" that unidentified outlaws have burned several of her storehouses and have robbed her wagon train shipments. Although she has called for U.S. troopers to guard her next shipment, Hoppy agrees to ride along as extra insurance. Hoppy becomes suspicious of the troopers when they arrive because of their motley uniforms and behavior, and tells Jane that he and his men will not ride along with her after all. 

10.  LEATHER BURNERS (1943) Hopalong Cassidy -  As rustled cattle have mysteriously disappeared, Johnny sends for his friend Hoppy, Hoppy arrives and immediately suspects Dan Slack. Realizing his telegram about Slack was intercepted, he locks up the operator Lafe knowing he can escape. Tailing Lafe he finds a secret entrance to a mine and inside finds the missing cattle. But Slack's men also find him just as the cattle are stampeded through the mine shaft.  [Added]

11.  Rustlers' Valley (1937) Hopalong Cassidy - Hoppy clears Lucky on a charge of bank robbery and foils the plot of a crooked lawyer to rustle a herd of pedigree cattle and take over the valley.  [Added]

12. Call of the Prairie (1936) - Hopalong CassidyHoppy returns to find Johnny (James Ellison) in trouble. Buck Peters has been shot by Porter who made it look like Johnny did it. When Johnny flees he runs into Linda. He takes a liking to her only to learn her father Shanghai (George Hayes) is one of Porter's gang. Going after Shanghai, he gets captured by the gang and Porter now plans to kill him. But Hoppy is nearby and Johnny will get unexpected help from Shanghai.     [Added]

13.  Stagecoach War (1940) Hopalong Cassidy - A stage-line owner is about to lose a lucrative Wells Fargo contract after his driver is shot in a holdup. The crime opens a door for Neal Holt (Harvey Stephens), who is not only a rival stage-line operator, but also the former boyfriend of Jeff's daughter, Shirle.  Hopalong" Cassidy, "Lucky" Jenkins and "Speedy" are driving a herd of Bar-20 mustangs to Bluesky, to be delivered to Jeff Chapman, operator of a stagecoach line. They come upon a stagecoach, which has just been looted of silver bullion by "Smiley" and his singing outlaws. The Bar-20 men give first aid to Jeff, who was shot during the robbery, and "Lucky" drives the stagecoach to town. There, "Lucky" is hard smitten by Jeff's daughter, Shirley, but she is in love with Neal Holt, who also has designs on her father's mail-carrying contract. Holt's foreman, "Twister" Maxwell, secretly works with "Smiley" and his gang, tipping them off on gold and silver shipments. Hold and Cassidy get into an argument over the merits of the Bar-20 mustangs versus Holt's pure-bred Morgans and the end result is a match race, with the stage contract as the stake.   [Added]

14. King of the Range (The Marauders) 1947 - A bad guy has used several murders to drive all the inhabitants out of town in order to give his gang access to the oil which lies under the land.      [Added]

15. Bar 20 Rides Again (1935) - Hoppy is going to the aid fellow rancher Howard Lang. But he's got to catch up with Jimmy Ellison who has a big head start. Ellison's likes Jean Rouverol the rancher's daughter, but she's getting a whirlwind courtship from an elegant English dude George Perdue (Henry Worth) who is secretly behind all the rustling going on and is known as Nevada.  Hoppy poses as a gambler to get on George Perdue’s ranch.  Purdue proves to be one of the more interesting villains in the whole Cassidy series. He's got some rather interesting ideas on good living out in the west and surprisingly for an Englishman he admires Napoleon Bonaparte. His men are even exasperated with his ideas, but he is making them money. That covers a multitude of sins.    [Added]

16.  Heart of the West (1936) - The story source credited to Clarence E. Mulford's "Mesquite Jenkins, Tumbleweed", finds Hopalong Cassidy and his young pal, Johnny Nelson, leaving their Bar 20 home range to answer a letter offering them jobs on the Tumbling-L Ranch of Big John Trumbull near Yucca. Before they arrive in town, they save an old wrangler named Windy from drowning, who has been fired on from ambush as he was delivering a valuable stud bull to the depot. Windy, whose sole trusted weapon is a blacksnake whip, tells them he works for the Three-J Ranch adjoining Trumbull's spread. Hoppy and Johnny soon learn that Trumbull's outfit isn't the kind they want to work for, turn down the job offer, and take work with the Three-J, operated by easterner Jim Jordan and his sister Sally. Jordan is planning on fencing in his grazing land, but Trunbull swears this won't happen because, unknown to the other ranchers, Trumbull's men have been driving rustled cattle through a 

17.  Undercover Man (1942) - Undercover Man has Hopalong Cassidy along with Jay Kirby and Andy Clyde acting as agents to discover just who is behind a series of raids on both sides of the border. It has the Texas Rangers and the Mexican Federales stumped.   [Added] 

18.  Pirates on Horseback (1941) - When miner Ben Pendleton strikes it rich, Ace Gibson has him killed but his men are unable to locate his mine. When California learns his cousin, Ben has been murdered he gets Hoppy and Lucky to help investigate. Hoppy finds the clue left by Ben and finally solves the riddle and locates the mine. But just as they find the gold, Gibson's men arrive and make them prisoners.   [Added] 

19.  Hills of Old Wyoming (1937) - Russell Hayden makes his first (of 27 consecutive) appearances as Cassidy's sidekick/protégé "Lucky" Jenkins. The character's actual name in the many Clarence E. Mulford books that featured him was "Mesquite" Jenkins, and Hayden's role was billed in this film as Mesquite "Lucky" Jenkins, and this film was the first and last mention of Mesquite Jenkins. This initial pairing of the trio of William Boyd, Russell Hayden and George Hayes (who only became known as "Gabby" when he wasn't allowed by Paramount to carry his "Windy" moniker to Republic when he departed the Cassidy series, which makes any pre-1939 cast listing showing a credit listing for a George "Gabby" Hayes a misnomer and in error for those who don't care for revisionist film history) is the one that many western-film and/or Cassidy devotees consider the best of all the trio pairings in the series.  An evil deputy is using Indian half-breeds to rustle cattle. This causes trouble between the cattlemen and Indians. Hoppy, Windy and Lucky see that justice is served.   [Added] 

20.  Trail Dust (1936) - Unscrupulous cattleman Tex Anderson (Stephen Morris) is withholding his cattle from a hungry market in order to drive up prices. The cattle buyers prevail upon some smaller ranchers including Hoppy (William Boyd) to form a drive and bring their cattle to market. Hoppy takes on the job of trail boss and is joined by his two pals Johnny Nelson (Jimmy Ellison) and Windy Halliday (George "Gabby" Hayes). Along the way the pick up the heroine Beth Clark (Gwynne Simpson) who is searching for her father. Unbeknownst to the group is that the evil Tex Williams has hired on in order to sabotage the drive and his cattle to reach the market first.   [Added] 

21.  Silver on the Sage (1939) - Hoppy goes undercover as a gambler from the East when Bar 20 cattle are stolen by unknown rustlers. Brennan/Talbot are twin brothers (one a casino owner, the other a rancher) and Hoppy believes they provide alibis for each other while one is out committing crimes. Hoppy gets a job in the casino to learn more but is exposed when a gambling gunslinger notices him.    [Added] 

22.  Lost Canyon (1942) - Burton is after Clark's ranch. He gets the banker to refuse to renew Clark's note and then sends his men to rustle his cattle. Hoppy is Clark's new foreman and is on to Burton's scheme. But just as he learns of the rustling and is about to go after the gang, the Sheriff arrives and arrests him for hiding Johnny who has been accused of robbery.   [Added] 

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