“Heading West”

June 9, 2008

I guess eventually we will see every variation on the Steve/Smiley relationship. So far: they have met during the film, they are old friends who get re-acquainted, they are partners in the Durango Kid crime-fighting enterprise, they are foes (when Smiley is Sheriff). In this 1946 episode, they are friends and riding partners but Smiley doesn’t know Steve is the Kid.

I’m looking forward to further variations: Smiley is the bad guy. Smiley and Steve are rivals for the same girl. They are lovers. Smiley is Steve’s father (“join the Dark Side, Steve…”). Steve is Smiley’s AA sponsor. They have some secret shared past which they don’t talk about (perhaps involving hard time.) Steve is executor of Smiley’s will. I’d pay good money to see that last.

Plot: Bad guys are robbing stagecoaches and blaming it on the Durango Kid. Steve Randall comes to town to put a stop to this craziness.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

I love how in these films no one ever just steals something. Bad guys are never just robbing stagecoaches for the loot, or killing miners for their gold, or rustling for the cattle. It’s always part of some plan, generally to bankrupt the stagecoach owners, miners or ranchers. This film even underlines it. The head bad guy is paying cash to hired guns to rob gold that they intend to keep.

Durango mostly rides in this one. This is always a mistake. There is a neat trick, however, where Durango drives a driverless wagon by riding behind it and shooting at it.

I don’t want to beat a dead horse (pardon Western metaphor) but once again Steve dons the Durango identity to do things that he could just as well have done as Steve.

Some nice lines from Steve describing the Kid: “From what I understand, the Durango Kid doesn’t bother honest people.” “I think you’ll find his guns are not for sale, Mr. Parker.” “He has a reputation of siding in with the underdog.”

Sounds a lot like you, Steve. Makes a guy wonder…

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Smiley is a magician. Lots of humor with him trying to swallow a sword, swallow a lit candle — I wish he’d swallow a bullet. BRAVO, Maestro, BRAVO!

Hank Penny and his Plantation Boys sing. They are a group of white boys.

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3 Responses to ““Heading West””

  1. I think you’re being a bit hard on ol’ Smiley. I always liked the guy, even though he could be a bit too annoying in some films. Of course, it was in the script that he act that way.

    Personally, I found Pat Buttram more annoying than Smiley, but that’s my opinion.

    Neither of course, could ever measure up to Gabby Hayes as the #1 sidekick.

  2. Tim said

    I’m not familiar with Pat Buttram, but I agree about Gabby Hayes as #1. I like Dub Taylor too.

  3. The scene you refer to with Durango riding after a runaway wagon with no driver, shooting his gun, actually came from an earlier film. Smiley plays a tinker, who mends pots and pans. He gets stopped by the outlaws, who are then routed when Durango shows up. The wagon bolts throwing Smiley in the back, being hit by pots and pans. Durango is shown riding and shooting, when he was actually shooting at the outlaws. This scene comes at the very beginning without reference to the outlaws stopping the wagon. That’s why it looks so strange.

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