The Land of Missing Men
The fourth of eight westerns made by diminutive Bob Steele for poverty row's Tiffany Productions, The Land of Missing Men is a sturdy little oater which contains a hair-rising scene where Steele and sidekick Al St. John enter a saloon littered with corpses! The remainder of the film is not quite as gruesome, but is instead a lively affair about a cowboy falsely accused of terrorizing a ranching community. Steele, of course, is innocent of all charges but has to prove it the hard way, by catching the real villain, the town's newly elected sheriff (Edward Dunn). The creepy saloon scene remains the film's center piece, however, what with a tinny player piano droning out the tune "After the Ball" over and over as Steele and St. John examine the bodies and the one man left alive (Emilio Fernandez). The scene precedes a similar but much more famous sequence in John Wayne's Randy Rides Alone (1934) but is actually better staged here. Real-life outlaw Al Jennings plays a retiring lawman in this film, but the real surprise is the appearance of Mexican-born Fernandez, who later became one his country's best known directors.