Watered Down Wayne
There be trouble in the west as James Kincaid (Forrest Taylor) has control of the local water supply and either the ranchers pay his exorbitant prices or sell their land to him cheap. But for Kincaid there is one plot of land he really wants, that belonging to Charlie Denton (George 'Gabby' Hayes) and his daughter Fay (Cecilia Parker) as they have dug a well on their land. With everyone having had enough they write to the Governor which is why agent Singin' Sandy Saunders (John Wayne) arrives in the area to help the ranchers in this dispute over water.
A few things stuck out at me as I watched "Riders of Destiny" with the most obvious one being that John Wayne is playing a singing cowboy. Well the Duke maybe playing Singin' Sandy Saunders but that isn't his voice you here when it comes to those songs and it is clear to tell. What is also clear is that whilst some of these 1930's westerns were improved by a musical element this one isn't and those painful ballads which were in fact sung by director Robert N. Bradbury's son Bill end up being an unwelcome distraction.
Another thing which stuck out for me was the fact that once again this was a western which not only featured a corrupt businessman controlling the water supply but a bad guy called Kincaid. The two are as cliche as each other as it seems almost every other western which I have watched from the 1930's features a bad guy called Kincaid and almost as many feature a storyline about ranchers struggling with water supplies.
In truth I didn't expect a great deal from "Riders of Destiny" as I have watched enough of these old westerns to know that cliche storyline, cliche characters and the same actors are what you get. But I had hoped that maybe with this being one of John Wayne's early westerns he would have been able to add some thing more to this movie. But sadly he couldn't and at times he comes across like a young man who doesn't know what he is doing when it comes to acting. That maybe more down to the basic nature of the writing and the static camera work but it is still a let down.
What this all boils down to is that "Riders of Destiny" is a typical 1930's Robert N. Bradbury western rather than what some might hope for from a John Wayne western. In fact with the bad musical element this only just about average.