“Trail Of The Rustlers”

May 14, 2008

The film starts with a bang. A couple of exciting action sequences cut together by the Master, our old friend Comrade Borafksy. Two headlines tell it all: “Durango Kid captures Big Slim” and “Big Slim Killed in Jailbreak!”

Cut to: faraway: another town.  Big Slim’s kinfolk read in the papers about the death and decide to lure the Durango Kid into a trap by framing him for all the raids they are pulling on the poor, local homesteaders.

Let’s press PAUSE for a moment, okay?

We don’t see it but what happens next must be the following: Steve hears the news that “the Durango Kid” is murdering all these people. “That’s not true,” he thinks. He decides to investigate. He collects his stuff and heads towards this little town.

Now picture him riding along on on his brown horse Bullet, trailing the white stallion Raider with its fancy embroidered black saddle. He’s carrying two sets of clothes.

Now picture him getting to the outskirts of town, in some deep brush, and dismounting. He sets up his lean-to and hitches Raider to a nearby tree. He might even sneak into town and secret another pair of black clothes in the barn, or spread a few outfits behind rocks or near caves. Maybe he’s got multiple white horses which he hides as well…

Back to the movie: Enter Steve Armitage, riding through the middle of town, easy smile, not a care in the world. There’s his old friend Smiley, the blacksmith, who introduces him to the townfolk as “my friend, Steve.” Smiley does not know that Steve is the Durango Kid. Or about all the hard work involved.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

This 1950 entry in the DK series, is all about the Mini-Durango, this time played by Tommy Ivo.

“The Durango Kid isn’t a killer. He just fights for people who are in trouble. And he’s always on the right side of the law.”

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

This kid loves DK so much, he dresses like him, all in black, and even rides a white horse named Raider Jr.

After the fake Durango Kid kills his father, Mini-DK burns his little outfit.

Later, when he meet Steve Armitage (what kind of hero name is that, “Armitage”?), he tells his sister, “Steve is sort like I always imagine the Durango Kid would be.”

Later, Durango and the little DK talk. Durango reveals his identity to him, in a round about way. Lil’ DK stares at his reborn hero and says, “I knew I was right about him!”

Later, Mini-DK helps Durango save the day and says, “I’m coming with you!” He doesn’t but that’s okay. Durango’s off to another town, and we all know how much effort that entails.

The music is provided by Eddie Cletro and His Roundup Boys.

Question for ya’ll: did any of these bands every play around under these names? I mean, did you see “Tonight: Eddie Cletro and His Roundup Boys” in lights outside the Palomino on a Friday night? Did “Ozie Waters and His Colorado Rangers” appear on Spade Cooley’s “Hoffman Hayride” TV show, or did “Doye O’Dell and The Radio Rangers” open for the King of Western Swing during his historic 18 month engagement at Santa Monica’s Venice Pier Ballroom? Did any fella ever surprise his gal by showing her tickets to the “Red Arnall and The Western Aces” show that night?

I sorta doubt it. Sort of doubt there was ever a town named Rio Peridido in Nevada either.

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2 Responses to ““Trail Of The Rustlers””

  1. Mike Newton said

    Believe or not, these cowboy bands were popular at the time of these films’ release. That’s why they were featured. Ozie Waters even had a local LA televison show in which he featured guest stars like Hoot Gibson. Spade Cooley and Tex Williams, who also appeared in Starrett’s films, were of course popular. Merle Travis, who was later to become a popular C&W star of the Seventies, got his start in a Starrett Durango film because he happened to play on the same theater bill as Smiley Burnette, and Burnette talked him into coming to Hollywood.
    *

  2. Anonymous said

    And many of these acts had one gig; in the Starrett film which they appeared. Many were studio musicians who put together a “band” for just long enough to appear in a few of these films, and then disband.

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