“Laramie Mountains”

May 21, 2008

I’ve read that when they were making these films, they didn’t have titles while on set, only numbers. The films were named later by studio lackeys who watched a final cut. Whoever named this one would have only had to watch the first five minutes, since the words “Laramie” and “Mountains” are never uttered again after the opening narration.

It’s 1952 and this is the fourth-to-last film in the Durango Kid series. (A reminder to my readers: I’m not watching these films in any particular order, other than the order in which I can get a hold of them.)

With the series winding down, the filmmakers had pretty much given up on their already half-hearted concern for any love-interest for Charley. There isn’t even a female in this film.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Instead, we have Jock Mahoney. Jock (here credited as “Jack”) was a stunt man for Errol Flynn, Gregory Peck and Randolph Scott. And for Charles Starrett, in over 50 films. He also did double-duty by acting in 16 of those films. Jock later went on to play Tarzan, Leo in TV’s “Batman”, and many many more roles.

Here he plays Swift Eagle, “a white man found by Injuns as a child and raised as one of ’em.” Which leads me to wonder who did Charley’s stunts when he and Swift Eagle were fighting one another, or, later, fighting side-by-side.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Jock and Smiley have pretty good chemistry together. You get the feeling they might have been friends off camera as well.

Plot involves a gang trying to start an Indian War so that the Army at Fort Tourney will drive Lone Tree’s tribe off land they secretly know is gold-rich. Steve Holden is an Indian Affairs Agent sent to negotiate a peace treaty.

He already knows Smiley (somehow) who is a Sergeant in the Army — he’s a cook. And, since all his action takes place in the kitchen, there is no room for Ringeye, his trusty horse. Instead, his side-kick is Ringeye, his trusty dog. Turns out Ringeye (the dog) is the son of Ringeye (the horse), “adopted of course.” Another winner, Smiley!

Once again, I’m not sure how Steve jumping back and forth into costume as Durango actually helps him accomplish his goals. Seems like a lot of wasted effort.

The finale takes place in another fake looking cave (see also “Streets of Ghost Town”).

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

No guest singers at all. I guess we really are closing in on the end of the series.


One Response to ““Laramie Mountains””

  1. You make reference to the chemistry between Jock Mahoney and Starrett saying that it looks like they were good friends off screen. Actually, Starrett always gave Mahoney credit for the Durango popularity. He said “I’m the guy who does the dialogue for Jock Mahoney.” After a few pictures, Starrett and Burnette got along better, even though they may not have met socially. Starrett always said Burnette worked too hard for a man that heavy and that was the reason for his death. The cave used was actually a studio set, designed to look like a cave. The cave used in Desert Vigilante was an actual cave in Bronson Canyon.

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