Other Cowboy Stars – The Three Mesquiteers

September 21, 2008

In 1935, Charles Starrett made his first western.  After that, he averaged eight a year.  Here’s what else you could expect to see on the silver screen back then.

This Republic series of 51 films between 1936 and 1943.  12 actors played the three roles over the years (including John Wayne).

In 1937, the Three Mesquiteers are played by Robert Livingston as Stoney (the lover), Ray “Crash” Corrigan as Tucson (the fighter), and Max Terhune (the comic.)

I guess Charles Starrett would be closest to the Corrigan character.  Charley is very rarely the lover.  And he’s hardly ever funny.

This is another contemporary western, set in the early 1930s, but you can’t tell in some of the films.  “Call The Mesquiteers” features cars and motorcycles, but “Hit The Saddle” could be set in the 1870s.

Robert Livingston is the baby faced cutey, the lover that’s a sucker for the ladies with an agenda (in “Hit The Saddle” it’s a very young Rita Hayworth.)  He’s also the romantic, he wants to set the wild mustangs free.

Ray “Crash” Corrigan is the more interesting leading man, good with the gun and strong on the law and order side of things.  He becomes Sheriff in “Hit The Saddle.”  He was a former stunt man who played Tarzan.  He also founded Corriganville.  Legend has it that he was taking a break from shooting one of the 3 Ms and rode to the top of a hill and looked down on the valley below.  He decided to buy it for 10k.  Corriganville was born — the setting for many films, and the site of the amusement park (see “Corriganville” blog entry.)

Max Terhune is a talented comic actor.  He later performed with the dummy Elmer Sneezewood.  He’s an interesting comic sidekick.  Unlike a fool like Smiley, he’s not a dumb-shit, he’s a joker.  He does bits and impressions when he’s being funny.  He’s also competent and pretty tough too.  Neat scene where he brings a horse into a bar and makes the rustlers apologize to it — at gunpoint.

Interestingly, there is conflict in these films between the three leads.  Stoney thinks Tucson is getting a big head when he becomes Sheriff.  Tucson thinks Stoney is letting Rita play him for a sap.  This sort of conflict is rare in these b-westerns — good guys generally get along.  And if they don’t, it usually turns out to be an act and all part of their “plan.”

I assume these guys got their name because they live in the town of Mesquite?  I’m asking here.  The newspaper is called the “Mesquite Sentinel”.  That’s my only clue.

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2 Responses to “Other Cowboy Stars – The Three Mesquiteers”

  1. Mun Mun said

    Maybe they use mesquite to flavor their meat on the range. Cute monicker anyway!

  2. Mike Newton said

    I would think that the reason for the title would be obvious. They were three comrades who rode together to fight evil, just like the Three Musketeers. William Colt MacDonald, a pulp magazine writer, created the characters which first appeared in 1934 with Big Boy Williams and Al St. John. That’s right, old Fuzzy. They also appeared in Powdersmoke Range in 1935. Then Republic made them a series. They were to make 54 films, using different actors in the roles, until the series ended in 1943.

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