“Riders Of The Badlands”

July 30, 2008

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Charles Starrett plays two roles in this film. One is named Steve. But the other isn’t the Durango Kid. He’s Mac Collins, leader of the notorious Collins Gang.

Steve Langdon has just been transferred to Company E of the Texas Rangers. Lucky Barton (Russell Hayden) is a fellow Ranger on his honeymoon. His wedding wagon gets ambushed by the Collins gang and his new wife is killed.

They lock Good Charley up and Bad Charley hears about it. “They got it figured that you live a double life, chasing bandits and being one.”

I repeat, this is not a Durango Kid film. It’s 1941.

Bad Charley breaks Good Charley out so he can kill him and collect the reward. They shoot the scenes between them with angle/reverse angle and the occasional split screen trick (once, I think.)

Good Charley escapes but a posse catches him and are about to lynch him when Lucky saves him, but only after thinking about it. Remember, he thinks Good Charley killed his wife.

Cut to: some time later — Lucky delivers the convicted Steve to the State Penn to hold until hanging in one week. He only wishes he could pull the trap door when they hang Steve.

Steve says, “Some day, I don’t know where or how, but you’r going to find out I’ve been telling you the truth. And when that day comes, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.”

Lucky is haunted by Steve — literally — a ghost image superimposition. He sets out to clear Steve’s name. He forges papers to spring Steve from the Penn with only hours to go before his hanging.

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Together, they flush out Mac who thinks his doppelganger just hung. “I wonder if I should send myself flowers! Ha ha!”

Finale is, of course, the big fight between the two Charleys (or between two of Charley’s stuntmen.)

Of note, in the film I’ve seen the first and only blood in these pictures. Lucky gets “winged” and there is definitely blood on his shirt.

Interestingly, Bad Charley isn’t all bad. He’s got a teenage daughter and seems like a really loving father.

Cliff Edwards provides the funny and the tunes as “Bones.”

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

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One Response to ““Riders Of The Badlands””

  1. Luciano Decusati said

    I’ve just seen this movie, and I really enjoyed it. Apparently the producers didn’t want Starrett’s alter ego to be ALL bad lest it would tarnish Charlie’s image with the young folks.

    Cliff warbles a nice song “Take me back to my home on the range.”

    One thing I like about C. Starrett is his loyalty. When a big shot once said that guys “like Cliff Edwards are a dime a dozen”, Starret stood by him and didn’t let them drop him off.

    Keep up the good work.

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