Another slam bang, one-hour, packed oater collaboration from star Tom Mix, director Lewis Seiler and, of course, Tony the Horse. The story for The Last Trail varies only slightly from the previous year’s Great K & A Train Robbery (both available from Grapevine Video, God love ’em). Hollywood did not argue with success, even in the 1920s.
Tom Mix is introduced as, yup, Tom, who has the fastest gun, the fastest horse, and the fastest smile in the west. Tom has just saved Joe Pacal’s wife from marauding Indians. A grateful Joe (Lee Shumway) tells Tom (as he hugs his wife), “We’ll name the first one after you, Tom!”
Ten years later Tom receives a letter from Joe and learns that Joe’s wife has recently passed away. Plus, Joe is now sheriff and is having a heck of a time with a series of stagecoach robberies. “Can you come and help, Tom? Besides, little Tommy wants to meet ya!”
True to his code, Tom comes, but not in the nick of time. Tom finds Joe driving a stagecoach as he flees from bandits after gold. One of the bad guys shoots Joe. Nita Carrol (Carmelita Geraghty) is a neighbor who has been helping raise little Tommy since Joe’s wife died, and Nita has might purty legs, so we just know she’s set up to be Tom’s love interest. Nita is on the coach with Joe in hot flight when Tom drives off the robbers. Tom safely escorts them into town, telling the townspeople, “I saved your gold, but they got my old pal.”
Joe dies in Tom’s arms, but not before he hands him his badge, charge of little Tommy, and a black book, which gives the names of suspected bad guys. Joe tells Tom, “Looks like the last trail for me” and expires.
With Tom as the new Sheriff, the bad guys are concerned: “Hold-ups ain’t safe with that gun totin’ cyclone on horseback actin’ as Sheriff.” Time for them to come up with dastardly plots to rid themselves of our hero.
Meanwhile, the owners of the stagecoach line are sick and tired of the robberies, so they decide to hold a stagecoach race, with the winner getting their contract as the prize.
Tom is having a time adjusting to fatherhood. Little Tommy hates baths and cough syrup. Tom flings his lasso to catch his fleeing charge, but reels in Nita instead. Tom and Nita engage in an eye batting contest. Then, Tom finds out about the stagecoach race from Kurt Morley (Willam B. Davidson), who is the man behind the robberies and, naturally, also has a thing for Nita. Morley accuses Tom of not living up to his promise to clean up the town. Tom tells the rude Morley, “If there wasn’t a lady present I’d clean up this town’s mangiest coyote right now.”
Morley orders Tom’s death and his gang blow up Tom’s house, so they are surprised to see Tom show up for the stagecoach race the next day, alive and healthy.
The stagecoach race gives Ramon Novarro and Francis X. Bushman a run for their money, with, again, Tom doing all of his own fantastic stunts and no CGI in sight. Tom saves the day, gets the girl, wins the race, and nabs the villains . One should expect no less from the likes of Tom Mix.
To top off a perfect evening, Grapevine Video adds a silent Felix the Cat cartoon, “Sure-Locked Holmes,” which was delightfully surreal enough to make me cave in with the chocolate raisins.