“South of Death Valley”

May 13, 2008

Courtesy of Les Adams

This is the 1949 film that Charley took a break from shooting to share the recipe of his “bachelor friend who’s a nut on casserole dishes.” (See blog entry “Charles Starrett Recipe.”)

It’s also the first Durango Kid film featuring Clayton Moore in a small part. The future Lone Ranger was in three DK films in 1949, right before he landed his big role. After two years of 52 episodes a year, Moore quit over a pay raise dispute. He went right back to playing villiains to Durango’s hero, in “Cyclone Fury” 1951. The Lone Ranger fans were not impressed with Moore’s replacement, and he was brought back permanent shortly thereafter.

I find it funny that the world’s most famous masked cowboy hero played third fiddle to perhaps the world’s most forgotten masked man.

Here, Moore plays “Bead”, henchman to Fred Sears (back as another villian) who is stirring up trouble between the Cattlemen and the Miners by poisoning the wells. Charley gets framed, escapses, is thought dead, and saves the day.

His name is Steve Downey in this one. He even has it embroidered in his hat. “SD, that’s Steve Downey.” He’s the brother-in-law of the late John Carr and he’s taking over Carr’s mining claim.

Smiley does not know him. Smiley is “The Ever-Lovin’ Marshall” as Tommy Duncan and His Western All Stars sing for us. His lame antics center around a lasso this time. Stuff like he lassos his own leg and says “look, I caught me.” Hi-larious.

Not alot memorable about this one. I do note that this is the third time I’ve seen the same rams-horn ornament on the desk of the bad guy. Significance?

I’ll leave you with this choice line from Smiley: “Mr. Durango, I’ve always heard you were for the underdog, well, believe you me, every dog in Nugget City is on top of me at one time or another.”

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

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One Response to ““South of Death Valley””

  1. Gail Davis had just started her movie career about this time. She had already appeared with Roy Rogers and Rocky Lane at Republic. Over at Columbia, she would become Gene Autry’s chief leading lady in films before going on television as Annie Oakley. Clayton Moore had been at Republic in serials and was working at Columbia where he also was in Autry films.

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