|Unkempt, rough and tough looking members of the gang, or lynch mob, or vigilantes, or posse riders, or cow herders. They had minimal or no dialog, not much screen time, and were generally not listed in the film credits. Some would show up as a face in the crowd, portraying townspeople, barflys, deputies, wagon drivers, ranch hands, etc. We tend to recognize some of their faces, but have no clue as to their real names.|
I tend to remember Monte Montague in mid 1930s - early 1940s westerns with Tim Holt and George O'Brien at RKO, Dick Foran at Warners, and Roy Rogers at Republic.
Let's begin several decades earlier as Walter Harry Montague was a busy man during the first thirty years of his life.
There are a few newspaper and trade publication blurbs indicating that a young Monte Montague - at around ten years of age - began working in a circus, and over the years, he became a clown, acrobat and tumbler. He may have also performed on vaudeville as an actor and comedian. We can confirm that he did two stints in the U. S. Army - one enlistment circa 1909-1911 and another from 1918-1919.
He began his Hollywood career around 1921, and during the silent era, he was in westerns with Jack Hoxie, Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, many others. Some biographies also note that he doubled Elmo Lincoln in silents and he also became close friends with Lincoln.
When talkies arrived, Monte made the transition. Les Adams has him identified in about 140 sound films - that number includes 81 westerns and 26 cliffhangers. Most often, he was unbilled/uncredited. Sometimes he wore a mustache and sometimes clean shaven. And sometimes he wore cowboy clothes and sometimes a suit.
The 1930s through early 1940s were his prime henchman/utility player period in B grade oaters and serials.
He appeared in cowboy flicks with Bob Custer, Dick Foran, Smith Ballew, Tim McCoy, and Buck Jones. However, the bulk of his western appearances occur in about twenty RKOs starring Tim Holt and George O'Brien, and at Republic Pictures in a dozen+ with Gene Autry and Roy Rogers and a few of the Don Barry and Three Mesquiteers series. A good example of Montague in westerns is the George O'Brien PRAIRIE LAW (RKO, 1940). Cy Kendall and Paul Overton are the brains behind a scheme involving cattle rustlin', water rights and selling land to nestors. Monte (wearing a mustache) is number three man in the gang, bossing the henchmen and having several good scenes and lines of dialog.
Most of his cliffhanger work occurs during that same 1930 through early 1940s period ... and most were for Universal.
Some conjecture here. During silents, Monte worked at Universal with directors Henry MacRae and Ray Taylor. Am guessing that he became a MacRae and/or Taylor "regular" - basically a dependable actor that could be counted on to handle minor roles such as gang member, bartender, police officer, etc. In the 1930s, MacRae was a production boss in charge of Universal's serials. And Monte often worked for director Ray Taylor. More below on Montague being a "character heavy" and "comedy menace", along with some additional details on his cliffhangers AND FEATURES for Henry MacRae and Ray Taylor:
|Monte Montague's 23 sound serials and a few features with Henry MacRae and/or Ray Taylor|
|Title||Serial or Feature||Ray Taylor function||Henry MacRae function|
|THE ACE OF SCOTLAND YARD (Universal, 1929)||Serial||Director||Producer|
|THE INDIANS ARE COMING (Universal, 1930)||Serial||Directed and produced|
|SPELL OF THE CIRCUS (Universal, 1931)||Serial||Producer|
|FINGER PRINTS (Universal, 1931)||Serial||Director||Producer|
|HEROES OF THE FLAMES (Universal, 1931)||Serial||Producer|
|JUNGLE MYSTERY (Universal, 1932)||Serial||Director||Producer|
|CLANCY OF THE MOUNTED (Universal, 1933)||Serial||Director||Producer|
|PHANTOM OF THE AIR (Universal, 1933)||Serial||Director||Producer|
|GORDON OF GHOST CITY (Universal, 1933)||Serial||Director||Producer|
|PERILS OF PAULINE (Universal, 1933)||Serial||Director||Producer|
|THE VANISHING SHADOW (Universal, 1934)||Serial||Producer|
|THE RED RIDER (Universal, 1934)||Serial||Producer|
|TAILSPIN TOMMY (Universal, 1934)||Serial||Producer|
|THE RUSTLERS OF RED DOG (Universal, 1935)||Serial||Producer|
|STORMY (Universal, 1935)||Feature||Producer|
|OUTLAWED GUNS (Universal, 1935)||Feature||Producer|
|FLASH GORDON (Universal, 1936)||Serial||Co-director||Producer|
|THE ADVENTURES OF FRANK MERRIWELL (Universal, 1936)||Serial||Producer|
|JUNGLE JIM (Universal, 1937)||Serial||Producer|
|WILD WEST DAYS (Universal, 1937)||Serial||Producer|
|DICK TRACY (Republic, 1937)||Serial||Co-director|
|THE PAINTED STALLION (Republic, 1937)||Serial||Co-director|
|THE PHANTOM CREEPS (Universal, 1939)||Serial||Producer|
|THE GREEN HORNET (Universal, 1940)||Serial||Co-director||Producer|
|RAIDERS OF GHOST CITY (Universal, 1944)||Serial||Co-director and co-producer|
|THE DALTONS RIDE AGAIN (Universal, 1945)||Feature||Director|
|THE VIGILANTES RETURN (Universal, 1947)||Feature||Director|
|Footnote: while I've listed "Producer" in the Henry MacRae column, he may have been Associate Producer, Co-Producer, or solo Producer on the films.|
Monte's workload during 1943-1946 is sparse, perhaps due to military service, U.S.O. service, injury or illness. Circa 1947, he's back working, but by this time, he was in his late fifties and only minor bits and an occasional character role were available. Montague's last film was in the mid 1950s.
Monte Montague passed away April 6, 1959 at Behren's Memorial Hospital, Glendale, California from heart/coronary issues.
Although some of the data may be incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Monte Montague: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0598784
Family Search (free), Ancestry.com (subscription), ProQuest obituaries, the California Death Index, and the death certificate provide more on Monte Montague and family:
A Lost/Missing Monty Montague Starring Film
Above is a crop from a September, 1923 newspaper theater ad for a personal appearance by Monte Montague related to a showing of his starring feature and "His Famous Photoplay", THE ONE MAN TRAIL (The other film is OVER THE BORDER (Famous Players-Lasky Corporation/Paramount, 1922).)
There's lots of confusion on this Montague starrer.
'NEATH WESTERN SKIES may have been the working title for TRAIL And ONE MAN TRAIL may also have been the re-issue title for DEFYING THE LAW ... or vice versa.
The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures lists this as a 1926 release by Hollywood Producers Finance Association. Also mentioned: "There is some evidence that this film is a revision of the 1921 Fox film of similar title starring Buck Jones, using long shots from the earlier film to augment this 'quickie'."
The online AFI Catalog of Feature Films has a totally different view. DEFYING THE LAW (alternate title: THE ONE MAN TRAIL) was a Robert J. Horner production circa June, 1922 with Montague and Ena Gregory. And it is unrelated to the 1921 Buck Jones THE ONE MAN TRAIL. You can read more at: http://www.afi.com/members/catalog/DetailView.aspx?s=1&Movie=3670
The CATALOG OF COPYRIGHT ENTRIES, Cumulative Series, Motion Pictures 1912-1939 from the Library of Congress, includes DEFYING THE LAW (see below), but THE ONE MAN TRAIL refers to the 1921 Buck Jones western for Fox.
I've found a half dozen theater ads during during the years 1923-1927 for THE ONE MAN TRAIL starring Monte/Monty Montague. However, I did not find any advertisements for a 1920s film titled DEFYING THE LAW.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from left to right are Monte Montague being subdued by Bob Custer while oldster Richard Carlyle is restrained by a young and thinnish Frank Ellis in Custer's QUICK TRIGGER LEE (Big 4, 1931).
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above from L-to-R are Monte Montague, Smith Ballew, Bud Osborne, and a moustached Gordon Elliott (before his hero days as 'Wild Bill') in ROLL ALONG, COWBOY (20th Century Fox, 1937). While the above lobby card shows the ROLL ALONG, COWBOY with a comma, the opening title in the film is just plain ROLL ALONG COWBOY.
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above is Monte Montague with the drop on singing cowboy Smith Ballew in ROLL ALONG, COWBOY (20th Century Fox, 1937).
(Courtesy of Les Adams)
Above - blacksmith Monte Montague jaws with singin' cowboy Tex Williams in a scene from FARGO PHANTOM (U-I, 1950) which used footage from Bob Baker's PHANTOM STAGE (Universal, 1939). Monte was almost sixty years of age when he did this film.