(Above pressbook cover courtesy of Les Adams)
"Santa Fe Trail" series
In the mid 1940s, Warner Bros. released eight two-reel westerns, roughly 20 minutes in length, and seven starred Robert Shayne who is best remembered for his later role as "Inspector Henderson" on the SUPERMAN TV show. Dennis Moore was the hero in the other short.
Shayne's real name was Robert Shaen Dawe, and he was born in Yonkers, New York in 1900 and passed away from cancer in 1992.
These shorts are most often called the "Santa Fe Trail" series (see pressbook left), but they are also referred to as "Warner Bros. Featurettes" (see B&W pressbook ad below).
Thanks to Les Adams and Boyd Magers for the info on these films ... along with a few other Warners shorts.
The "Santa Fe Trail" series films and their release dates are:
OKLAHOMA OUTLAWS (9/4/43): Mostly footage from 1939's THE OKLAHOMA KID with the primary character names unchanged, with Shayne playing James Cagney's "Ned Kincaid" and Warner Anderson playing Humphrey Bogart's "Whip McCord", etc.
WAGON WHEELS WEST (10/30/43): Footage and story from Dick Foran's 1936 SONG OF THE SADDLE with role names unchanged - Shayne as Foran's Frank Wilson, etc., with about the only new footage being Shayne and Nina Foch in the Dick Foran and Alma Lloyd roles from the original. Charles 'Ming' Middleton is the killer of Shayne's father.
GUN TO GUN (1/8/44): This was the lost/missing Robert Shayne two-reeler. In a quick-look-before-it's-over 20 minutes Robert Shayne vexes the crooked plans of Harry Woods to discredit titles to old Spanish land grants. Tom Tyler is briefly seen as the Sheriff. Possibly the least interesting of Shayne's so-called "Santa Fe Trail" vest pocket westerns.
ROARING GUNS (2/19/44): Most of the footage is from 1938's GOLD IS WHERE YOU FIND IT with Robert Shayne, Virginia Patton and Stephen/Steven Richards (later became Mark Stevens) playing the roles originated by George Brent, Olivia de Havilland and Tim Holt.
TRIAL BY TRIGGER (5/27/44): Footage from VALLEY OF THE GIANTS (1938) with Robert Shayne, Cheryl Walker and Warner Anderson filling the roles originally played by Wayne Morris, Claire Trevor and Charles Bickford. Anderson is stripping the forest of the magnificent redwoods.
LAW OF THE BADLANDS (5/14/45): only 20 minutes long but as well made as Warner Bros. features with more story and action than most B-westerns. Framed and found guilty of the murder of a brother officer, Robert Shayne is commandeered out of the Cavalry. Eight years later, still searching for the renegade (Trevor Bardette) who framed him, Shayne saves a young girl (Angela Greene) from death after the stage they are in is attacked by renegades (Bardette and Norman Willis) posing as Indians. They're found wandering in the desert by Cavalry officer Warren Douglas who, over a 2 year period, falls in love with Greene as she grows to womanhood. Eventually, Shayne finds Bardette on the day of Custer's massacre at the Little Big Horn and, after turning Bardette over to Douglas (and uttering a few surprises), he joins Custer in "victorious defeat". Hang on, it moves rapid fire and includes stock footage from THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON.
FRONTIER DAYS (10/20/45): Technicolor - Robert Shayne and Dorothy Malone in the Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland roles from DODGE CITY (1939). Marshal Robert Shayne meets lady Sheriff Dorothy Malone as she seeks the killer of her father ... the same gang Shayne is after. The only one of these vest-pocket Shayne two-reelers in Technicolor utilizes much footage from DODGE CITY ('39) including the spectacular saloon brawl.
The Dennis Moore short from Warners called WELLS FARGO DAYS (5/1/44) was made by the Cinecolor Company circa 1939 and was originally titled THE MAN FROM TASCOSA and distributed primarily through the Monogram exchanges. To fill out the Shayne series to eight entries, Warners bought it and re-issued it in 1944 as part of their "Santa Fe Trail" series. Therefore, unlike the Shaynes, this Mack V. Wright directed short is all original Cinecolor footage. Includes Louise Stanley as the heroine and Karl Hackett as the crooked gambler.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Harry Woods, Tom Tyler, Anita Camargo, Robert Shayne and Pedro De Cordoba (sometimes spelled Cordova) in the lost/missing Warners short, GUN TO GUN (1944).
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Pedro De Cordoba and Robert Shayne have the drop on Harry Woods in GUN TO GUN (1944).
TREACHERY RIDES THE TRAIL: an issue date of 1949 and a production number of 5805 that would indicate it was released circa late 1943 or early 1944. Most likely taken from Dick Foran's 1936 TREACHERY RIDES THE RANGE.
1935's ROMANCE OF THE WEST with Phil Regan utilized material from 1930's two-strip Technicolor SONG OF THE WEST which starred John Boles.
PONY EXPRESS DAYS (7/13/43) - Technicolor - with George "Superman" Reeves as Bill Cody. No Warner's biggie had Bill Cody as a central character, so it was probably original in story but most likely used big-scenes and action footage from, perhaps, DODGE CITY.
(Got an e-mail from Tom Goethe about the PONY EXPRESS DAYS short: "I just thought that I would mention as part of the 5 disc set of "The Adventures of Superman", season one, they include this short as a special feature on disc 5. It's referred to as a historical short and it says that it was released in 1940 although your write-up says 1943. I watched it and the picture, color and sound are very good considering how old it is. It seemed as though it was filmed more for viewing as a semi-documentary than as an adventure story and it has a voice over narration through out. While I was watching it I thought it was more like the educational short films that were shown to us in history classes when I was in grammar school.")
WEST OF THE ROCKIES (11/29/41) - from Dick Foran's CHEROKEE STRIP with Richard Travis.
ROYAL RODEO - 1939 Technicolor with John Payne - story from Ken Maynard's silent THE ROYAL RIDER, but couldn't use the B&W footage.
SONGS OF THE RANGE - 1944 10-minute short that used Dick Foran and Tommy Bupp from Foran's CHEROKEE STRIP.
LET'S SING A SONG OF THE WEST - 1947 - Also footage from CHEROKEE STRIP.
TRAILING WEST - 1944 Technicolor with Chill Wills. No idea of source footage if any, as plot line doesn't fit anything. May have actually been made from scratch.
THE SUNDAY ROUNDUP - 1936 Technicolor two-reeler has preacher Dick Foran putting on a vaudeville type show to increase his church congregation. Includes a lengthy knife and axe throwing act by Steve Clemente with Glenn Strange at the receiving end. Linda Perry is the female interest and a young Jane Wyman is a saloon singer.
Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Robert Shayne: http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0790171/
Mary Spooner's tribute website on Robert Shayne: http://www.robertshayne.net/
Stephanie Shayne sets the record straight about her father's testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1951 - at the Jim Nolt "The Adventures Continue" website on George Reeves and Superman: http://www.jimnolt.com/editor.htm
Spooky Tom's website has some images of Shayne from THE NEANDERTHAL MAN, INVADERS FROM MARS, more: http://www.spookytoms.com/Robert_Shayne_Tribute.html