Trail of the Vigilantes was conceived as a straight action picture, but was reshaped during filming into a comedy western in the Destry Rides Again mode. Franchot Tone is the unlikely hero, an undercover agent sent west to halt the activities of rustler Warren William. The object of ridicule thanks to his dudelike ways, Tone makes a couple of powerful friends in the form of saloon brawlers Broderick Crawford and Andy Devine. The film proceeds in a
comic vein for several reels (including setpieces featuring Mischa Auer, who'd also been in Destry) before getting down to business with a lengthy, straight-faced action finale. Trail of the Vigilantes didn't do as well as Destry Rides Again, perhaps because there was no counterpart to Destry's Marlene Dietrich (leading lady Peggy Moran is appealing, but hardly in Dietrich's league).
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