Aces and Eights
Although slow-moving at times, Aces and Eights is nevertheless a fine little Western and certainly the best of the ten Tim McCoy would make for low-budget (and short-lived) Puritan Pictures. McCoy plays the legendary Wild Bill Hickock in a prologue that depicts how Wild Bill is assassinated during a poker game in which he holds two pair, aces and eights, from that day forward known in the West as the "death hand." Gambler gentleman Tim Madigan (also McCoy) is then introduced as Hickock's successor. After witnessing Madigan accusing a notorious cardshark (John Merton) of cheating, young José Hernandez (Rex Lease), a victim of the crook, pulls his gun and the gambler bites the dust. Madison is accused of the killing and quickly leaves Nevada for California, hotly pursued by the town marshal (Earle Hodgins). En route Tim is reacquainted with José, whose ancestral hacienda is about to be usurped by Ace Morgan (Wheeler Oakman), a notorious gambler in league with nasty saloon proprietor Amos Harden (J. Frank Glendon). To restore the hacienda to José's kind-hearted father (Joseph W. Girard), Tim engages in a high stakes game of poker and wins the Harden saloon. Along the way, Madigan discovers that it was Ace Morgan who killed the gambler back in Nevada and not José. McCoy, who earned a generous 4,000 dollars per picture, delivers his usual solid performance in Aces and Eights, which also benefits by the presence of Hodgins, as the gum-chewing marshal, and Charles Stevens, as a comic opera Mexican captain of police. McCoy filmed three additional Westerns for Puritan before moving on to Victory Pictures.