November 8, 2008
As of this writing, the rumors appear to be true — Turner Classic Movies will be showing “The Kid From Broken Gun” in December!
This hard to find film is the last in the Durango Kid series. It’s also the last film that Charles ever made. There has been some confusion on this matter over the years. In fact, Starrett’s New York Times obituary lists “The Rough, Tough West” as being his farewell to the screen. My research indicates that KFBG is indeed the martini, Steve’s final ride.
There have been many memorable farewell moments in the history of film. The comedy duo of Martin & Lewis have a dilly of a final shot in the last film of their long-running series. “Pardners” (1956) ends with the pair on a western street. The words “THE END” appear, and Dean & Jerry pull their six-shooters and shoot the words off the screen. They step up to the camera and tell us that they aren’t finished yet, that they have something to say. The famously bickering pair then assure the audience that the rumors of their split are greatly exaggerated and that they look forward to making many, many more films together.
By the time this film hit the theaters, the duo had been broken up for months.
Finding an appropriate ending for the Durango Kid series seems like a difficult task. For a while now, I’ve been wondering how one marks the conclusion of such an awkward series.
One thing is for sure. It’ll be hard to top the last scene of “The Rough, Tough West.” (In fact, the third to last film.)
Here we see a tableau of several generations of western pioneers: a grandmother, a grizzled old prospector, a weathered ranch hand, a young man, a young woman, and a small boy. They stand near a bale of hay, watching their town burn in the distance.
Young Man: There’s a new town to be built, a new future. Only this time it’s not going to be a one-man job.
Granny: You’re right, Jack. The future of the West is every man’s job. And there’s a place in it for every one.
Small Boy: Buck high, Ranger, or bust.
Hovering near the edge of the frame, somewhat detached from the group, with them and yet alone, stands Steve.
He smiles and nods.
Top that, KFBG!