Saddle The Wind, 1958

March 14, 2017

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ALERT:  Only for the deepest fans of the Durango Kid films!  Do not read if you are not hungry for every tidbit of knowledge regarding this series and its makers!

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Ray Nazarro, pictured above during the writing of Desert Horseman, directed many a Western and many many of Charles Starrett’s Westerns.

He also started his career as a law clerk on the team providing defense for William Hickman in the Marion Parker kidnap and murder case of December of 1927.  He quit shortly after Hickman’s convicion.

“Lightning Guns”

December 21, 2016

After a long time, I look at a “new” Charles Starrett film and it is called…

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I have watched 50 of the 59 Durango Kid films that Charles Starrett made for Columbia Pictures between 1945 – 1952.  “Lightning Guns” was the last film made in 1950. Durango will make 15 more films in the next two years, then hang up his six-shooters forever.

There’s a lot that is familiar to me in this film, but, happily, it does not rely heavily on repurposed footage from previous Durango Kid films.  Fred Sears is back as director.  As my readers, and any astute fan of these films, knows Mr. Sears played many bad guys in earlier Durango Kid films (the mastermind type, not the henchman type) before moving behind the lens.

Familiar.  Shot in Corriganville.  The opening VO is the usual variation on “in the old west there were bad men but some good ones, one of them was the Durango Kid” cue the black figure atop the rising white horse.  And, as always, Charles Starrett’s character is named “Steve.”  This time, it’s “Steve Brandon.”

Also.   Jock Mahoney plays double duty as Starrett’s stunt man and the desirable male lead — this time as the sheriff.  He mostly gets beat up and then shot in this one.

Also. Smiley Burnette is in this.  He *groan* plays a *get this* bathtub salesman.  Oh, the comedy gold from “The West’s #1 Comic,” as Columbia liked to bill him.

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Also familiar.  Steve adopting the Durango Kid persona and disguise serves absolutely no purpose in the narrative.  Again, everything that Durango does could have been accomplished by Steve.  In many cases, Steve could have done a better job, since he had already gained the trust of all of the principles.

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There’s a feud and a fight over water rights and bank robberies and arrests.  Meanwhile, two old pals (I guess?) (it changes every picture) are drinking coffee (Steve) and milk (the unfunny guy in the right half of the frame.)

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I really liked that the final fights were mainly Charles and not stunt double Jock.  And he saves the day.  As Steve!

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Cool!

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POSTSCRIPT:

Jock is listed as Jock O’Mahoney.  I’ve never seen that before.

AND:

This is the coolest image of Smiley I have ever come across.

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“Desirable” – Revisited

December 18, 2016

While watching this tonight, I realized that I had watched it once before, in July of 2008.  I couldn’t remember a jot of it, and I was surprised — until I remember that, last time, I had a 3-month-old girl on my lap taking a rare nap.

It’s a pretty good love story.  Odd take on some conventional beats. Charles plays the rival suitor.   He has 5th billing, and is in a handful of scenes.  Here are nearly all of them.

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Director is Archie Mayo, who Starrett never worked with again, but at least one Other Cowboy star did.  That was Dick Foran, playing with Humphrey Bogart in both 1939’s Black Legion and 1936’s Petrified Forest.

The Mechanic did it!

Number 4 in the Lt. Andy Doyle series!

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Timothy Carey is in this one!

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Lots more going on in CHAIN OF EVIDENCE.  But… Timothy Carey!

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PS.  I see our friend Set Decorator Joseph Kish’s mark on this crooked 22.

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There’s a neat homage in this film to Wild Bill Elliott’s long career as a cowboy star.  Lt. Andy Doyle visits a set.

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CALLING HOMICIDE, the third of five films in Elliott’s last minute career as a homicide detective, has a lot more noir elements than the previous two.  The detective’s VO with some hard-boiled lines.  And visuals like these:

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That’s right, Mr. Joseph Kish!

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…of CALLING HOMICIDE, but Lt. Andy Doyle will be BACK! in CHAIN OF EVIDENCE…

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Welcome back to this premiere Western site where we explore the careers of B-Western stars after they dismounted.  AND discuss the design of these later films sets!

Buckle up, hombres!

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As we’ve discussed about the previous film in this series, DIAL RED ZERO, that film is full of bold choices in the art displayed on the walls.  Comparing the credits of the two films, we find that Art Director David Milton is still on board.  Missing from this second film is Set Decorator Joseph Kish.

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Was the exciting work in the first film to be credited to Mr. Kish?  Let’s look at SUDDEN DANGER.

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I’m voting for YES.  But we shall see, as Kish rejoins Milton in the last 3 installments of this film series, CALLING HOMICIDE, CHAIN OF EVIDENCE and FOOTSTEPS IN THE NIGHT.

Can you stand the suspense….???!

So, in 1955, with 5 pictures left in his contract with Allied Artists, Wild Bill hung up his six-shooters and picked up a gat.  He got himself a nice little detective series as Lt. Andy Flynn.  The first one was called…

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He’s good in this new role.  Very Noir.

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But, hey, let’s hear up for the bold decisions of the set designer.  Check this shit out!

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Peckinpah’s first feature.  What a mess!  But some great character stuff and some intense performances.