“Outlaws of the Panhandle”

July 24, 2008

Courtesy of Les Adams

They made this experimental film in 1941. Get this: Charles is named “Jim”!

Jim Endicott is riding along on his white horse. He comes upon a shootout between some rustlers and some good guys. He magically knows which side to throw in on, and tosses a guy over a cliff.

Jim (I still can’t get used to it) is a man with a plan. He wants to build a railroad to connect Oil Springs with Winchester, and avoid the rustlers. “That’s a job for engineers”, sneers one detractor. “It’s a job for men“, counters Jim.

We now enter into one of the most byzantine and boring plots yet. A plot between a banker and a railroad tycoon to disrupt the work on the rails and bankrupt the ranchers. Seriously, considering all the rich history and imagery of the West, the makers of this film choose to have two guys in suits stand around in offices discussing liens on property and conditions of loan repayments.

Charley is pretty tough in this one. There’s a real good scene where he tells the bad guy to hit the road. “Maybe the next time we meet it won’t be just for conversation.”

But, at the hands of the guys who brought us this sleepy plot, poor Charley has mostly boring things to do. He tries to use “public opinion” and has a stern chat with the newspaper man. “Just remember this, newspaper type isn’t the only thing made of lead.”

There’s an entire (long) scene where he repeatedly stops a saloon brawl from happening. I like saloon brawls. The bigger the better. I like rooting for the good guys to whomp on the bad guys. I don’t like rooting for the good guys to put out fires and keep tempers at check and avoid fights!

The closest we get to seeing the building of that railroad is some hazy stock footage and the Sons of the Pioneers cooking stew for the railworkers.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

You know, Pat Brady can be just about as annoying as Smiley. There’s just not as much of him to hate.

Despite the lame stuff they give Charley to do, he’s really good in this one. He’s confident — the grinning thorn in the bad guy’s side. Some cool moves with a gun and some fancy footwork.

Though I can’t recommend the film, for the above stated reasons, it’s a good performance from our man Charley.

He also fans his gun. No time for the ladies, though.

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