Harlem Rides The Range (1939)

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Food:

A Southwestern HelloFresh specialty for our Western movie series: Chickpea Tinga Tacos with Monterey Jack Cheese, Poblano Pepper, & Lime Crema. 

  1. Get a can of chickpeas, poblano, lime, tomato, and shallot. Wash produce. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Half, peel and slice shallot. Chop poblano & tomato. Quarter lime.
  2. Combine 5 teaspoons of vinegar in bowl, and put half of shallot slices in bowl with pinch of salt and a bit of water. Set aside to pickle.
  3. Pat chickpeas with paper towel, season with some Southwest Spice, and add to pan with salt & pepper & drizzle of olive oil. Cook until light crispy then transfer to bowl.
  4. Reuse pan, add olive oil. Add poblano & rest of shallot, with salt & pepper. Re-add chickpeas to pan. Add tomato paste, veggie stock concentrate, more Southwest spice, and 1/4 cup of water.
  5. Mix sour cream and squeezed lime juice with salt & pepper. Add smidge of water and mix. Fill tortillas with mixture from pan, and top with sour cream mix, pickled shallot, Monterey Jack cheese and tomato. All finished!

Western Film Series:

“Harlem Rides The Range” (1939), directed by Richard C. Kahn, a Louisiana born American filmmaker, who is known for filming with an all-Black cast, came out the same year as “Stagecoach,” another Western, but made with a predominantly white cast. “Harlem” stars Herb Jeffries and Lucius Brooks as cowboys Bob Blake and Rusty, who are riding across the countryside seeking adventure, when they come across a ranch where it appears a murder has taken place. They are distraught until they find Jim Dennison (Leonard Christmas), the apparent victim of the crime, and he is still alive, though hiding in fear. Upon leaving, Bob falls in love with an image of Margaret (Artie Young), the ranchers daughter and becomes fixated on his infatuation with her. He also leaves a glove behind, but as this is no Cinderella tale, this trace is bound to cause problems later.

We later discover that the villain goes by Bradley (Clarence Brooks), and he is set on seizing the ranch at all costs, and Bob returns to the scene in order to save his “beloved” Margaret. He finds that his glove has been used by Bradley to frame him for the murder of the ranch foremen, Jim Connors (Tom Southern), and he must fight to clear his name.

It was set on the 40-acre Murray’s Dude Ranch in Apple Valley, California. Originally this location was established “to give urban youth and their families the western experience,” but once hit by the Great Depression, it was sold and became an interracial dude ranch, allowing it to be catered to film stars and ordinary families who were interested in black cowboy culture. Sets for all-black movies, and especially Westerns, were difficult to come by, so the range was a gift for Black filmmakers. The ranch gained renewed popularity and eventually returned to it’s initial mission of helping inner city youth.

It is a fast-paced, fun story with all the usual Western hi-jinks (shootouts and horse riding), but refreshingly keeps the Native American villain story line out of sight. The humor is subtle and lighthearted and grounded in the character goofiness. Further, one of the greatest elements of the film is the songs naturally placed throughout, sung by the lead star, Herb Jeffries and the soundtrack included two numbers under his stage name, “Herb Jeffries and The Four Tones.” They are delightful fireside sing-a-long’s, one called “I’m a Happy Cowboy” where he carols, “A cowboy’s life is the only life for me” and another called “Prairie Flower” where the crew joins him in song. “Harlem Rides The Range” is a really enjoyable viewing, and should be more often included in Western collections.

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