Film Review of Law of Vengeance: Shirley Temple Sparkles in Small Part in 1933 Western Drama

by DerdriuMarriner

Can characters played by Esther Ralston, Randolph Scott, and Shirley Temple escape from generations of Southern blood feuds by moving to The Old West?

A fifteen-year-old escapes Germany’s violence of the 1840s-1850s.

He explores non-violent endings to feuds which he marries into.

Will moving west after the War Between the States (April 12, 1861 - April 9, 1865) add to or end his troubles in “Law of Vengeance," also released under alternate title of “To the Last Man”?

"Law of Vengeance" is the first of two movies which Shirley Temple and Randolph Scott made together.

"Susannah of the Mounties," their second film, was made six years later in 1939.

Photo selected by Shirley for the cover of her autobiography, "Child Star"

Shirley Temple, c. 1933
Shirley Temple, c. 1933


The Law of Vengeance gets carried To the Last Man by writer Jack Cunningham; producer Harold Hurley; and director Henry Hathaway. Ben F. Reynolds, and Jack Scott handle cinematography and editing. Filming showcases:

  • Mesa, Arizona;

  • San Bernardino National Forest.

The 70-minute Western adapts Zane Grey’s (January 31, 1872 – October 23, 1939) 1921-published novel. Its distributor was Paramount Productions, Inc. Its USA-release date was September 15, 1933.

The movie begins with widowed soldier Mark Hayden (Egon Brecher) and Jeff Morley (John Forrest “Fuzzy” Knight) homeward-bound 5 days after Generals Ulysses S. Grant (April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) and Robert E. Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870) meet in Appomattox on April 9, 1865. He comes home to:

  • Father-in-law Grandpa Spelvin’s (Harlan Knight) death while eldest grandson Lynn (Jay Ward) retrieves a dead rabbit in Pine Holler;
  • Mother-in-law Granny Spelvin’s (Eugenie Besserer) wrath.

Mark files charges against Chet’s killer (Noah Beery). The sheriff (James Burke) and the judge (Erville Anderson) refuse to have Jed hang for “feuding.”

Jed goes to prison. Mark moves children Ann (Rosita Butler) and Bill (Cullen Johnson) west. Lynn remains until Granny’s death 15 years later. Mark stakes his Grass Valley claim on May 15, 1866

The state penitentiary guard (Dick Rush) lets Jed out in 1880-1881. Jed moves to Nevada -- one-half day’s ride from Mark -- with:

  • Daughter Ellen (Esther Ralston);

  • Ex-inmate Jim Daggs’ (Jack LaRue) $700.

He rustles Mark’s cattle. Mark’s son-in-law, Neil Stanley (Barton MacLane), shoots Jed’s cousin, Pete Garon (John Carradine). Jed’s men wound Neil.

Ellen goes swimming. Jim is between her and her clothes. Lynn’s lassoing a birch opens the sluice gates. Jim retreats. Ellen thanks Lynn by:

  • Recommending camping on the meadows;

  • Serving breakfast bacon.

Lynn gives:

  • Ann’s (Gail Patrick) and Neil’s daughter Mary (Shirley Temple) a dolly and son Taddy (Delmar Watson) boots;

  • Ellen a dress;

  • Mark Grandfather Hayden’s pistol set from Germany.

Bill gives Lynn White Cloud. Jed’s men grab Mark’s cattle and horses. Ellen realizes that Jed’s gift horse is Lynn’s.

Jim calls Lynn Fred’s (Harry Cording) killer. As Molly Hayden (Muriel Kirland) and Jeff start to kill two dark chickens, Jed’s men swarm to:

  • Blast Dolly’s head;

  • Kill Taddy’s dog;

  • Tie Bill’s (Buster Crabbe) corpse to horse and saddle.

Molly (Muriel Kirkland) chides her father-in-law’s letting Colbys kill Haydens. Jed fires as Mark draws his rifle. Jim’s dynamite-provoked landslide kills almost every man. Jim strangles Jed.

The movie ends with:

  • Lynn escaping to Ellen’s despite his injured left arm;

  • Lynn’s gun falling from his loft hideaway;

  • Ellen fighting Jim;

  • Lynn stabbing Jim;

  • Ellen and Lynn wearing wedding clothes.


To the Last Man (alternative title for The Law of Vengeance) ~ Shirley 1st appears (0:20:24); Shirley gives Uncle Lynn kiss in thanks for doll gift (0:34:37); Shirley is outside for tea with her doll, whose head is shot off by one of Colby's men (0:38:14)

Published on YouTube on February 9, 2013 by Western Mania ~ URL:



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.



the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Author Loraine Burdick's collection of Shirley Temple memorabilia is one of the most extensive in the world.

The Shirley Temple Scrapbook

Shirley Temple: publicity pose for "Dora's Dunking Doughnuts"

Short (20 minutes) comedy was released September 1, 1933, two weeks before release of "Law of Vengeance"
Shirley Temple

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/20/2014, DerdriuMarriner
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