AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Hair-Trigger Casey
Director: Harry Fraser (Dir)
Release Date:   1936
Production Date:   began 16 Dec 1935
Duration (in mins):   60
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Cast:   Jack Perrin (Captain [Jim] Casey)  
    Betty Mack (Jane Elkins)  
    Edward Cassidy (Karney)  
    Snowflake (Snowflake)  
    Wally Wales (Dave Casey)  
    Phil Dunham (Abner)  
    Robert Walker (Colton)  
    Denny Meadows (Brooks)  
    Victor Wong (Lee Fix)  

Summary: Army Captain Jim Casey is called home to his ranch by border patrolman Colton to investigate strange happenings. On his way out of town, Casey finds his foreman Karney, who was nearly killed by a Chinese man's axe in Chinatown. When Casey arrives at the ranch he learns that his ranch hand, Slim Elkins, was killed the night before, when Karney was mysteriously absent. Casey's brother Dave had gone with Slim that night to investigate possible contraband being moved along the international road bordering the ranch. They had seen a car turn out its lights and shoot at them. Dave shot back and wounded one man, but Slim was killed. Karney then meets with bunkhouse cook Abner, who has been arranging the smuggling. Abner insists they run more contraband that night, even though Dave's "hair-trigger" shooting killed one of the outlaws the previous night. Jim finds a concha near the border and suspects the culprit is Mexican, and Colton reports that someone will be smuggling Chinese across the border that night. Jim then finds a Mexican named Jose in one of his cabins, where he is hiding three Chinese immigrants for which he was paid $150 each. Although Jose claims to be a rancher, Jim is suspicious and he and his men surround the cabin. One of the ranch hands fires a shot and Jose escapes onto the road, where he hides in Jane Elkins' car. Jim finds him and removes his disguise to discover that he is Karney. Jim then recollects the time he saved Karney's life in the war and is disappointed by Karney's ingratitude. Karney's ability to speak Spanish had made him able to implicate innocent Mexicans in the crime. Karney is holding up Jim and his men when the mysterious Chinese man, angry at Karney for taking his people's money, kills him with an axe and escapes. Jim, certain Colton will apprehend the killer, proposes to Jane, and his servant Snowflake plays the wedding march on his harmonica. 

Production Company: Berke-Perrin Productions  
Production Text: Blue Ribbon
Distribution Company: Atlantic Pictures Corp.  
Director: Harry Fraser (Dir)
  William Nolte (Asst dir)
Producer: William Berke (Prod)
Writer: Monroe Talbot ([Wrt] by)
Photography: Robert Cline (Cine)
Film Editor: Arthur A. Brooks (Ed)
Music: Lee Zahler (Mus eff)
Sound: T. T. Triplett (Sd eng)
Country: United States

PCA NO: 1872
Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Western
Subjects (Major): Chinese
  Impersonation and imposture
  Mexican-American border region
  Officers (Military)
  Ranch foremen
Subjects (Minor): Axes
  Border patrols
  Proposals (Marital)
  World War I

Note: This film was reviewed in mid-Feb 1936 and a modern source gives a release date of 1 Mar 1936, although an exact release date has not been found. Although a 1936 copyright statement is listed on the viewed print, the title does not appear in U.S. copyright records. A 4 Dec 1935 HR news item states that Miller Easton was writing the script for this film, although he receives no credit on the screen. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   3 Dec 35   p. 6.
Film Daily   19 Feb 36   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Dec 35   p. 2.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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