“Stranger From Ponca City”
June 1, 2008
“In the old west, the struggling pioneers were frequently at the mercy of outlaw gangs. They held the frontiers in a grip of terror. And the few men who courageously represented the law seemed faced with a hopeless task. Then a mysterious rider known as the Durango Kid became a champion of law and order. He inspired new courage in the settlers and sent terror into the ranks of the renegades. Many of them gathered in Ponca City. The Durango Kid followed.”
Images of Durango shooting people.
Headlines read: “Durango Kid Cleans Up Ponca City” and “Durango Kid Donates Rewards To Church”.
“His mission accomplished there, he again disappeared.”
This opening montage of the 1947 film handily explains the title. But things get “stranger” still. There’s a Twilight Zone opening as Charley rides into Red Mountain, where there is a white line running right through the middle of town, and no one will talk about it. People act like emotionless robots, as demonstrated by their lack of laughter at Smiley’s antics. Turns out there’s a feud and Smiley’s restaurant is right in the middle.
More weirdness. Smiley keeps a fishbowl on the counter and he tries and tries to catch Catfish to sell to customers.
And yet another female real estate agent. This is the second of these I’ve seen in Charley’s films (“Cowboy Star”). I didn’t know the old west had real estate agents. At least not one’s that look like this.
Steve Larkin is in town to buy the old Atkins’ place. The bad guys want to stop him. Why? That’s sort of a mystery.
You know, by all accounts, Charles Starrett was a real nice guy. He said corny nice things about his job, and about the people who he worked with. He once said that stuntman Jock Mahoney “let me do the dialogue scenes.” And that niceness really translates onto the screen. His smile is ready, and it looks genuine most of the time.
I think that’s the thing I like about him most.
Which is why I like films like this one, where he gets to be heroic as Steve, not just as Durango. I like it when Charley gets the credit.
Music is by Texas Jim Lewis and his Lone Star Cowboys. I also think I spotted Harmonica Bill as Smiley’s stir cook.