April 21, 2008

Courtesy of Les Adams

At this point in my study, a number of questions have emerged, riddles I can’t yet solve. I will continue to search for the answers, but I thought I would take a moment now to name them.

Note: I understand the impulse to merely blame these mysteries on the inattention of filmmakers working on a budget. You know, “these were B-pictures, what do you expect?” And yes, I will be exploring in future entries the attitude of the studio and their seeming indifference to the content/quality of these films.

But, in the name of Narrative, let us contemplate these questions from the vantage point that there is an answer, somewhere, within the body of the work.

First question, quite simply, is this: Who is the Durango Kid? I mean, who is this guy and why does he do what he does? Is he a Texas Ranger who moonlights as a masked avenger (“Return of the Durango Kid”)? Does he work for the Treasury Department (“Bonanza Town”)? Or is he a wandering hero who roams from town to town on his own dime, righting the wrongs that he encounters (in almost every other film I’ve seen)? If the latter, then what is his motivation? What is driving him?

Second question: Who is “Steve”? He seems to have a different job (and a different sur-name) nearly every picture. Superman is always Clark Kent. Batman is always Bruce Wayne. The Durango Kid is a different Steve in every film.

Third question: What is his relationship with his side-kick? With Cannonball, and then with Smiley, this relationship seems to change from film to film. In one film, he will not know the guy, and meet him when he comes to town. In the next, this guy is more like a partner, someone he “sends ahead” to gather information.

A couple other loose ends that keep nagging me:

Where does he hide the white horse?

Why does he always befriend a handsome male stranger?

Why doesn’t he ever get the girl?

Also, something I may revisit soon, is this: The donning of the double identity often contributes nothing to the success of Steve’s mission. He could just have easily accomplished all he does without posing as the Durango Kid. So, I ask, is the Durango Kid identity a benefit, or is it merely a compulsion?

Or is it a curse?



  1. I can answer a couple of those questions, at least as they relate to the comicbook version of the character. There he is always ‘Steve Brand’ and he is a Secret Service agent allowing him to be a Marshall or Texas Ranger, seemingly when he wishes. (This later part taken from the Starrett movie, TEXAS PANHANDLE.

    I guess the Secret Service part could work the same way in the films, but just not be mentioned.

    I don’t think the film makers believed the intended audience cared about continuity very much. Notice that Gene Autry & Roy Rogers, although they were always called by their own names also changed occupations. Their side-kicks also went from being partners to new acquaintance depending on the plot.

  2. stevesomething said

    Thanks for the information, Steve! I have just ordered a Durango Kid comic book. Check back soon and I’ll share my thoughts on it. I appreciate your input!!

  3. carl said

    That is comic book # 17 *The Birth of The Durango Kid * is one of the included stories in the issue. (it is a rare-expensive-hard to find book).

  4. The reason Charles Starrett rode a white horse is the same reason he wore a white hat. He’s the good guy and good guys always wore white hats. Also, the white horse is easy for the film editor to spot when he was cutting the film to put the chase scenes in the right perspective. The good guys chasing the bad guys, not the other way around. Why didn’t he woo the heroine? Starrett did develop a relationship with Iris Meredith in his early pre-Durango films. Why did he establish a “relationship with a handsome stranger.” I don’t know what you’re trying to imply, but this was back in the days when men in movies bonded together for comradeship and not for a “relationship.” Starrett as Steve was usually trying to help a buddy out of a situation or being a good Samaritan trying to bring justice to a wild and wooly town.

  5. stevesomething said

    Gee, Mike, you just take the fun out of everything, don’t ya? The question is not “why does he ride a white horse?” It is “Where does he hide the white horse?”

  6. I will re-interate what I said. Starrett hid Raider usually in a cave, the location of which was usually different from picture to picture. Why nobody ever ran across Raider by accident is not known. We never saw Starrett actually changing his clothes but we could tell by the time frame from when Steve rode into the rocks to when he came out as Durango. Yes, it was a pretty quick change. It was just like we never saw Durango re-load his gun, but obviously he couldn’t keep shooting with only six shots. How come nobody ever found Steve’s old clothes is the same reason nobody ever used the same phonebooth as Clark Kent. Hey, what’s this cape and red shorts doing here.

  7. mike newton said

    One film that you do not review is “Kid From Amarillo” (1951-52) which I have found on Google, but only a Spanish print, where the title was changed, the print was tinted to give it color, and there is a voice over narration during the titles. Of the 65+ titles in the Durango series, this apparently is one of those hard to find entries, much like “The Kid From Broken Gun.” Many of the entries from the l950-51 season apparently were either scrapped or lost to history.

  8. stevesomething said

    Turner Classic Movies has announced that they will be showing “Kid From Amarillo” in the near future. I look forward to seeing this “Kid”.

  9. Anonymous said

    For some reason in my old mind, I always thought the Durango Kid and Lash Larue were one in the same until I lately started watching them again on EncoreWS. Must have been the black outfits.

    Billy Boy

  10. Lou said

    Looks like everyone has forgotten about Steve’s horse – “Socks”, the big chestnut. A good Durango Kid question is “Did Socks and Raider have more than a business relationship?”

  11. Anonymous said

    Loving the Durango movies on UHF station GET TV!!!… Such a nice change from all the FILTH & Sex on television, and in movies these days!!!

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