As part of my ongoing attempt to find a place for Charles Starrett in the history of B-Western stars, I have watched my third Buck Jones film.

“Lazybones” is a product of William Fox’s decision to bring the preeminent German filmmakers to Hollywood in the early twenties.  Frank Borzage, famous for “Seventh Heaven”, “Street Angel” and later “Farewell To Arms”, directs.  Like these films, it is beautifully lit and framed with a tremendous sense of structure.   It’s also as sentimental as all get out.

lazybonesBuck plays Steve Tuttle, “slow as molasses in wintertime”, a good-fer-nothing who adopts a little girl and becomes a man.

It’s a very moving piece and, in another context, I would have a lot to say about this film.

Within the context of this blog, Buck Jones at 34 is a very different actor than Charles Starrett.

First off, he’s incredibly physical.  In “Just Pals”, 1920, he is casually climbing ropes with one hand and jumping over fences in a single hop — a little more showy than in this film.  But his physicality is present in every scene in “Lazybones”.

Also, Buck is given a chance to do many things that Charles never did: like show vulnerability,  cry, age 20 years in a picture, and play a father (of sorts.)  Buck’s wide-eyed joy for life reminds me a bit of Charles in “Return of Casey Jones” and “Lady And Gent”.

I don’t feel like I’ve seen Buck J. in his prime, as a Western star.  “Just Pals” is another sentimental small town drama and “Arizona Bound” (1941) is towards the end of his career where he’s clearly struggling through the horse stunts.

CHARLES SINGS!

June 17, 2009

A reader writes to inform me that Charles’ singing in 1938 “Start Cheering” was dubbed by one Robert Paige.

Robert Paige 2

This actor/singer started life as John Arthur Paige in Indianapolis in 1910, became David Carlyle for his early radio career, and spent the bulk of his film career as Robert Paige while at Columbia, Warner, Paramount and Universal.

Wikipedia has some great info on the fella, as does this entry at IMDB.

Thank you to Scott MacGillivray for the information.